Two Hands

Xanadu Weyr - Thea's Weyr

This clearing is sheltered by a thick canopy of trees, which seems supported at its centre by an immense, wild-growing fellis tree. Hanging from one of its high branches is a swing, made up of two ropes and a seat of softwood and leather. The grass is tall here and interrupted in places by clusters of white and blue alyssum. Alyssum covers the indentation of the wallow, remaining hardy despite being continually crushed. The constant sound of herdbeast in their pens can be heard close-by, though its source is invisible through the foliage.

The cottage itself is made of white softwood, like birch, though creeping vines cover all four of its walls from the outside and even encircle the brown-shuttered windows and matching door.

As the daylight on Pern begins giving ground to night, the Weyr that the young Queen reclines in becomes bathed in evening fire. The wind gives a quiet sigh at the sight, gusting once through the trees, and it is only then that a quiet voice calls, "Thea?"

The clearing is empty save for the gold dragon, the cottage door remains closed and silent, the windows are dark. Seryth appears to be simply relaxing, for her head is up, rather than stretched out on the ground. Her neck curves over her back, her head swivels to peer towards the call. Blue-eyes blink serenely and she chuffs once in greeting.

Tenebrous melts into the clearing, his hood pulled low. Thea's desire for secrecy has apparently not left him. "Hello," he says simply, nodding once to the Gold. "She's not here," he murmurs to himself and then looks at Seryth directly. "She's very nice," he offers softly. "Never yelled at me or thought bad things…" He pads further into the clearing, towards the Queen's resting place. "Master Fraille says I'm overwhelming myself, you know," he adds. "I didn't tell her about coming here, but I think she knows. She knows me." Then he looks down at his shoes. "I have to leave," he mumbles. "I've been called away."

Seryth's head moves as she tracks his progress through the clearing, her neck arched high overhead, but her muzzle pointed down towards the young man. As he draws closer, her head lowers slowly and she gives a questioning churr, her muzzle glides closer, the massive head tilts, angling her jawline up slightly.

Tenebrous looks up slowly into the dragon's eyes. "Rubicon's healers are being overwhelmed," he offers by way of explanation. "The Masters have each given clearance for a few apprentices and Journeymen to go and relieve them." His voice gets hushed at the last part, filling with a little pride. "Master Fraille says I'm the only one with enough experience with the forest areas to know how to get around. Find the right medicines." A little smile touches his lips, but it's also sad. "She said that things were happening now that she couldn't stop. Couldn't control."

Seryth edges that jaw closer to the young man. A hint. She blinks at him with the one eye he can see. The sad tone has her crooning comfortingly. Drops dance upon a still pool, a laughing sound in the gentle words, « You are troubled. » It is not a question, the patter of sound dances through her next words, « Mine says that control over life is but an illusion. » Her head glides forward a few more inches.

Tenebrous closes his eyes when those words start to drift into his mind, focusing on them completely. "Yours… Thea." He smiles a little more. "She may be right." Then he inhales, his chest catching a little. "I have dreams sometimes. Like I was supposed to be something else, but turned out this way instead. I listen, and I hear words that I don't understand." He takes another few breaths to steady himself.

Seryth blinks. If a dragon could pout, she would be doing it. No scritches forth-coming today apparently. She withdraws her jaw, her neck retracts the head until her muzzle once more facing the young man. There is an approving rumble for his connection to her Rider's name. Her voice breathes, a fog swirling the words into his mind once more, « Tell me one of your dreams? » The gentle question sends echoes through his mind, as a stone thrown into a still pool will cause ripples that expand, « Words… what are the sounds they make? »

Tenebrous opens his eyes slowly. "I don't know if I can put it into words," he mumbles, pacing a little closer to the dragon's head. "I don't look at what's in a room, but rather, how to get out of it. I don't look at who someone is, but rather what they are. What they could be…" One of his hands drifts to his throat. "I've heard Master Fraille speaking with the Mind Healers…" Almost unconsciously, he looks around the clearing, doing exactly what he said. Checking for ways out. "Broken. Fragmented…abnormal."

Seryth's muzzle inches forward until she can gently nudge the young man's chest as he begins searching for a way out. She rumbles, the sound meant to be comforting. A distant thunder enters his mind in a muted growl that announces a far-off storm, « Mine has told me that escape is not always possible. One must face… what is to come before the fog clears. She walked in a fog once… » A picture of murky black nothingness, heavy, oppressive is there. It lightens gradually to a golden haze, then to sharp clarity. At the mention of Master Fraille's name, a soundless lightening flashes in her words, « Mine does NOT like that one! »

A quiet step behind Tenebrous coming down the path announces the approach of someone. Seryth croons a welcome. Thea pauses at the edge of the clearing, taking in the sight of Tenebrous holding his throat. She simply waits for him to notice her, not wanting to alarm him.

Tenebrous nods slowly. "Sometimes, you have to look beyond what's on the surface." At the nudge to his chest, his hands rise up, cupping the queen's muzzle and gently kneading in a few places. "A beast of fire and fang and claw? Or a queen…" When Thea's footstep reaches his ears, he turns his head to face her. "Hello, Thea," he calls quietly.

Thea steps forward when Tenebrous speaks, her voice light, "Hello Tenebrous." There's a bemused smile on her face as she takes in the sight of the pair and a quiet chuckle, "She says she cannot breathe fire as the other dragons, but she knows some humans who seem to be able to do it." She slants a look at the queen, "Silly. Angry yelling is nothing like spouting flame." Her gaze returns to the young man, "Seryth says you are going away?"

Tenebrous nods once, his hands still slowly working over the queen's maw. "I'm sure you've heard. Rubicon has called for aid from the Halers Hall. Master Fraille believes I am the only one suited to go that has any skill with plant life." A pause. "Your dragon deserves more credit," he offers. "The voice's flame is no less destructive, and its damage can be…longer lasting."

Thea shakes her head, "I didn't make it to the Infirmary today for report." She watches the young man's face carefully, "Are you… agreeable to leaving?" The real question might be did anyone care to ask -him- that before deciding. She can only nod in agreement to his statement, "That true I suppose." She draws a breath, "I'm fortunate not to have been the target of such in my life." Her eyes narrow just a bit, "You've…. changed. Or you appear to have."

Tenebrous mms. "The eye of the storm. Nothing more." Unfortunate. "Am I agreeable? It never occurred to me. They need help at Rubicon and if my teachers are to be believed, I stand uniquely qualified to offer some of that help." Then his hands slide away from Seryth's face. "But that's not what you want to know." He looks between the two women in the room. "No, Thea," he says quietly. "She did not ask me. She didn't need to."

Thea hmms at this, nodding. "I see." She doesn't say what it is she sees, however. "Of course she doesn't need to. She's your Master. There is a need, you are a Healer. I just wondered if your input had been asked." She nods, something confirmed. His comment draws a curious look, "No? What is it I really want to know then?" Her half-smile has a hint of apprehension in it as she awaits his answer.

Tenebrous murmurs, "You want to know how much I'm moving under my own volition, and how much of what I do is handed down by Master Fraille." A pause. "She didn't ask me if I wanted to go because she knew I'd want to. And she was right." He glances back at Seryth, addressing her directly. "Neither of our kind make very good first impressions, do they."

Seryth churrs, a musical sort of croon, blinking her eyes serenely. She's having no problems with the healer. Thea tilts her head, considering the answer then nods, "You are more perceptive than folks give you credit for." She doesn't sound surprised by this. His comment to Seryth earns a raised brow, "I don't know about dragons, but sometimes their Riders make horrible first impressions," Her face reflects some inner grievance, a slight frown forms before it clears in a smile for him, "Healers are fine folks, really. I just do not care for the way Master Fraille gets on." She shrugs one slim shoulder, not wanting to disparage her to him, "Actually what I'd like to know is if you would like a ride there."

Tenebrous blinks. "A ride? I was just planning on running through the woods…Rubicon is not so far away. Besides, I have no skill at riding the runnerbeasts that I see the hunters use."

Thea shudders, "Faranth take the beasts! I wasn't talking about runners." The word runners comes out with evident distaste. She smiles, amused, "It isn't far? It's across the river and all the way to the mouth where it empties into the Southern Sea. That may not seem far to you, but I thought maybe you might enjoy-" She pauses uncertain whether to offer, then decides, "No, I meant would you like to ride on Seryth to get there?"

Tenebrous looks between Thea and Seryth hesitantly. "I…don't know how to fly a dragon, Thea," he stammers before blinking once again and looking back at her. "You want to give me a ride? What's about here? Can the Weyr spare you for that long?"

Thea hmms at this, turning to Seryth with an impish grin, "What do you think Seryth? Can they spare me for an hour?" The queen simply mrrs in her throat. If a dragon could rolls its eyes… Thea turns back to Tenebrous, her lips twitching, eyes dancing with humor, "I can be spared, and you needn't know how to fly a dragon to ride one." She gives him a curious look, "How is it you've lived here most of your life and have never been a'dragonback?"

Tenebrous laughs a bit weakly. "No one's ever asked, Thea. My life is in the forest, and my sky is the trees. Where could a dragon take me in that world?"

Thea shakes her head, "Well no they cannot fly in the forest, true." Her eyes have an unreadable look as she watches his answers grow shorter and his nervousness seem to increase. She ponders for a moment then, reassuringly, "It's alright, Tenebrous. You can say no. We won't be offended." She shrugs, "It is nice being up above the trees, seeing the land below, feeling the wind in your face… " Her tone is coaxing, "There's nothing else like it." She doesn't press him. "Think about it. Happy to take you."

Tenebrous weaves his fingers together, tension obviously mounting on his features. He glances over at Seryth, his face a little drawn. "There's no way out, up there," he murmurs to her.

Seryth turns her head to better eye the young man, a whuff of warm air gently through her nostrils eddies about the pair on the ground. Her voice blows as the wind in autumn that holds the promise of frost, « There is always a way out, up higher, down and …» A picture of utter black nothingness, cold beyond the point of pain, a complete void of feeling and sensation, Complete disconnect. The picture is but a brief three heartbeats, before a shift to normalcy once again, « It is a way -through- » Her mindvoice floats as snow on a windless morning with sun gilding it to a glitter on its way to the ground, « Cold, but a sure way out, always there no matter where you are. » The contact in his mind leaves with a sigh as a wind that dies away.

Thea is a part of this communication. She holds her breath, watching his reaction to this. "You'd be safe, Tenebrous, we wouldn't go *Between* unless you needed a fast way out."

Tenebrous shakes his head a little. In a rare moment of introspection, he murmurs, "It's possible I have trust issues." Then he looks between the two women again. "Yeah. If it's you two, yeah. I'd appreciate the lift…"

Thea continues to watch impassively after Tenebrous speaks. There is a brief flare of surprise in the ice green of her eyes as he speaks of trust; it might not be seen if he's looking away. She flickers a quick look at Seryth before that curious head tilt back at Tenebrous. "Seryth says she will allow you to tell her when you need a way out, but I'll warn you, *Between* can be unsettling the first time through. It would be better to land in a clearing or on the river itself." She's silent for a time as she watches him, mulling something over, shakes her head deciding not to say whatever is on her mind, instead, "You can let me know the day you are ready to head over so I can let them know I'll be out of the Weyr?"

Tenebrous rubs the back of his neck and shakes his head. "It's not about *us* getting away, Thea." He begins pacing nervously again before forcibly stopping himself in front of Seryth. "Were they right? The mind healers?"

Thea blinks at this, trying to keep confusion from her face and failing, "Who then?" It's a reluctant question; she doesn't want to press too far. Seryth merely rumbles comfortingly lowering her head to the ground, but keeps her eyes on the young man. "She doesn't understand, Tenebrous," Thea murmurs, "She doesn't know what a mindhealer is, really but right about what?"

"Broken," he breaths. "Fragmented…" That breathing speeds up a little. "Fraille understands," he intones, his eyes unfocusing a little. "Fraille understands," he says a little louder, turning to face Thea. "Fair skin and…and brown hair, and green eyes…" He rubs one side of his face. "Glasses of water and statues, but none of it matters," he stammers, his voice getting louder, more frantic. "All that's ever left in the dark are your hands, Thea, and you've got two of them!" Then he slaps one hand over his mouth, his eyes horrified.

Thea remains immobile as Tenebrous begins speaking, and though she blinks at the outburst, she keeps an iron grip on her face and her body. None of this in making sense to her and she'll be honest enough to say so, "Tenebrous. I don't understand? But if none of it matters why are you so upset?" Her voice is deliberately calm, soothing. She lifts her hands slightly to him palm up for him to see. "Yes, everyone has two hands and if that's a crime, then I am guilty of it." She meets his horrified eyes without qualm, her hands still there, "Are you having nightmares, do you think?" A thought occurs to her and again she must master her face, her voice, "What does Fraille understand?"

Tenebrous keeps that hand over his mouth, but there's no point in him speaking. A rusty woman's voice utters, "Everything. Or maybe enough, in this case." Fraille looms in the twilight, ominous despite her hunched form, staff planted in the ground. "I warned you, weyrwoman," Fraille says softly. "And I suppose I can't hold it against you for trying to be kind to the boy. But you're stumbling around with a match in a room full of fumes, and for his sake, you have to stop."

Seryth is a serene dragon normally but she is in tune with her Rider's emotions. While Thea merely looks over her shoulder at the woman, The gold rises to her feet and growls at the woman, a low-pitched rumble of warning. Thea turns her head back to the gold, "I don't think she's going to try that Seryth." She doesn't turn back to Fraille, she doesn't argue. She just sighs and shakes her head, "Just please go Fraille." Her voice sounds nothing but tired as she says it. The look she gives Tenebrous is nearly unreadable but concern vies with confusion, as she utters a low, "No matter what she says to you, I would never hurt you." And she just stands waiting for them both to leave. Assuming, perhaps that when Fraille leaves, so will Tenebrous.

Fraille chuckles, but there's no mirth in it. "Fetch me some meadowrod, Tenebrous, and more lavender, please. I seem to have misplaced a vial of the soaking agent from my study kit." She never even looks at him, her eyes for Thea only. In response, Tenebrous simply ghosts away, his actions almost automatic, melting into shadows as he reaches the treeline.

"It takes two hands, when you're a petite thing like yourself. Two hands, to strangle a child. Tenebrous knows this all too well, Weyrwoman. He has learned his lesson, and before he sees your pretty brown hair or your curves, he'll see your hands, and he'll know where they are at all times. You should understand that before you ask him to challenge sixteen turns of nightmares."

Seryth roars, echoes from other dragons reverberate across the Weyr through the twilight. She is before Fraille with but two leaps, stopping only when she is a matter of inches from the woman. Her growling and lashing tail clearly telling of her ire, all her teeth bared. Thea doesn't bother turning around, she simply waits for the noise to die down before saying, "I have no interest whatsoever in whether he sees my hair or curves, Fraille." Her weyr, Fraille is the intruder here in her sanctuary; the title Master is dropped. "If you're implying I would hurt him, you are wrong. If that's not it, why don't you set me straight?" She keeps her back to the woman. "If you're not going to make any sense, then just go now. Please!"

The look that Fraille fixes Seryth with could be called both withering and understanding at the same time. "The feline's out of the bag, my dear. You don't eat people, not even when you should…and I think you'd understand exactly if you were in my shoes. Your mistress is a big girl." She leans a little around Seryth's massive bulk, not moving forward. "You were four turns old when it happened, you know. The two of you are, technically, the same age, though you'd never know it by talking…" She turns back to Seryth. "Go ahead, big girl. Take a look in here, and tell me you wouldn't be a little grumpy too." She taps the side of her head. "Better yet, go find that old Brown, Malchisibeth, and ask him about the half dead boy he and his rider helped carry back to me. Ask him about how the boy's face looked, and how he got that way…"

Maybe not eat, but remove bodily from her Rider's weyr? The queen does not back off and it is perhaps fortunate for the ancient Fraille that she is too fragile to be nudged on her way that Thea restrains Seryth from doing so. Thea remains right where she is as she grits, "She cannot read your mind and even if she could, it would probably make little sense anyway." She is silent for a few moments, breathing heavily, calming herself, "Someone tried to strangle him." Not a question. "Are you going to tell me or not? Someone who looked like me?" Making the only connections she can with nothing but pieces to draw conclusions from.

Master Fraille snorts. "Someone didn't try. They did, and while they did it, they nearly beat him to death as well. And when they were done, they threw him from a moving wagon at speed and left him for the insects. He's lucky they didn't break his neck…" A pause, while she shifts position, voice rough. "They closed both of his eyes, bruised one of his kidneys and any number of other internal organs." She looks back up at Seryth. "So you see, your highness…at the end of the day, someone he trusted tried to kill him. And I'm pretty sure they did, but when they threw him from the wagon, he hit a tree on the way down, and it jolted his heart back to beating."

"So you've taught him to never trust again, is that it? So he'll be safe. Wonderful! That's a real help." Thea shakes her head, "And you don't want him to trust me?" Careful here. She's not going to jump too far in making assumptions.

Master Fraille sighs. "Do you always run your mouth before your brain? Sit and breathe for two seconds before you speak, just for the next few minutes or so. This'll be easier. And the answer is no, I didn't teach him that. A man named Lekhin taught him that, and his lieutenant, Torg, helped. Not that the wee ones around this place didn't do their part as well. You want to blame me for something? Blame me for the stability he's got now, the functional role in the Weyr that he has. His craft. Then you'll be in the neighborhood of the truth."

Thea ignores the verbal abuse, the irritation for the time being, "I asked to clarify. This has been confusing to put it mildly." She listens but her head is shaking back and forth. "I'd hardly think calling him crazy, telling him he has a crush on me or mentioning mindhealers to him would contribute to his stability, Fraille." She draws a breath, "Why didn't you tell me this the other night in the office? Would have helped me get to that neighborhood a lot faster." She pauses, "You don't want me to befriend him?"

Master Fraille waves a hand. "I'd love for everyone on the damn continent to befriend him, Rider, that's not the point. How are you supposed to make friends with people when all you can think about, first and foremost, is if they're going to try and kill you again? He's not stupid, girl. As a matter of fact, I suspect that he's a great deal smarter than I am." She shifts her staff from one hand to another. "And I certainly didn't plan on him having such good damn ears… He wasn't supposed to hear most of what you just said."

"I never thought he was stupid." Thea is at a loss as she hears the rest of it, her head tilts, "You have two hands, how is it that he trusts you?" There's some sarcasm in her tone at that before she adds, "Well he did hear you and it bothers him." She turns around at last, "And if you're asking how he's supposed to make friends, I can't tell you, but it certainly isn't ever going to happen if you follow him around preventing it!" A brow raises, "Surely you've thought about what will happen to him after you are gone? You won't be there forever to isolate him!"

Master Fraille mmms. "My two hands spent the next two turns putting him back together. It set in eventually. Or it set in enough that he let me start touching him without screaming." She adjusts her stance again, grimacing. "I can't help the fact that he heard things. I can't help …" she sighs. "I can't help a lot of things anymore, Weyrwoman. Not where he's concerned…" She glances between Thea and her dragon before murmuring, "I don't follow him around trying to keep him from making friends. The mind-healers warned me that if he ever got too close to his trauma that his mind might…fragment worse than it already had."

Thea tilts her head, "It might. Or it might… allow him to face his past, work through it and put it to rest. Confront his fears… be free." She's calm, breathing normally when she repeats her question reasonably, "What is going to happen to him when you are gone?" Seryth's growling has stopped, her teeth no longer bared, but she still remains right in front of Fraille, the tip of her tail twitches. The junior asks one more question, "If you care about him, isn't it worth the risk to allow him to make the choice? He came here tonight freely. He asked me… He wanted to know…" She cannot go on.

Master Fraille spreads her hands. "I have no idea what will happen to him when I am gone. I know that he'll be cared for. Looked out for." A pause. "She owes me that much, at least," she growls. "And as far as facing his past is concerned, you got a taste of that tonight. He thinks what happened was his fault, you know."

Thea shrugs, "Most victims do." She falls silent for a few moments, her eyes grow distant as she murmurs, "I thought it was my fault too, when my Kav left…" Fraille has been here long enough to have heard at least some of the whispers. "But I couldn't escape and Seryth wouldn't take me *Between* so I…" Her eyes lift back to Fraille's, "I had to work through it." He's… he's in a place where he can escape, but it finds him. I know what it is like - I've been there in the dark that he mentioned." Suddenly something clicks into place. "Not trying to fix him, but if he's trying to find a way out - and I think he is - I'm not going to turn my back on him without offering him a hand. I won't force it, it has to be his decision." She's finished talking, but resolute as she eyes the woman, "Was there anything else?"

Master Fraille shakes her head slowly. "No. I don't suppose there is." A pause. "If it matters, you've made more of a dent than anyone else I've seen. He's got a little shrine built in his room at the Hall. That note you held onto, and a little silver statue." She wrinkles her nose. "He's got a drinking glass there too, filled with half-stagnant water. Not sure what that's about." She shakes her head again. Then, "Wait. Earlier, you were gonna say something. He came here wanting to know…what, exactly?"

Thea's been through a wide range of emotions this evening, they all seem to flicker across her face once again as Fraille speaks. The woman's admission that she's made a dent takes her by complete surprise. She blinks a few times. "Dunno that I was trying to do that. Was really just being me." The mention of the collection has her shaking her head, "That's interesting. I have no clue why he's done that. He said something about the water being clean here…" She shrugs, "He offered me his glass. I just felt… I should show him some trust if I wanted him to trust me, so I drank some." The last question has her wary suddenly. She pauses, her eyes slide to Seryth, thoughtfully, before she pins Fraille with a curious stare, "He wanted to know if the mindhealers were right. But he didn't ask me. He asked Seryth." She pauses for a beat, "What did the mindhealers say that he's wondering is true or not?"

Master Fraille ahhs quietly to the comment about the glass and then grimaces a little about the Mind Healer comment. "Dragons don't lie," she calls. "I keep hoping he'll spend enough time around one that the truth of things will start to sink in. He hasn't even found a darn fire lizard of his own yet, but Flop's a decent surrogate." She ehs a little. "As for the mind-healers…" She spreads her hands again. "There's something wrong with his mind, Rider. None of us know if it's emotional or psychological. I'm holding out for the former. It's like there are pieces of what he should have been floating around in there somewhere. Every once in awhile, he'll have a good day and they'll all line up. You start to get a glimpse of the man that might have been…but then it's gone again."

Thea shakes her head, "Dragons don't lie, but they have to understand the question. Seryth didn't. And then they have to want to answer it. Not all do." She shakes her head sorrowfully, "And I don't think she can tell him what's wrong in is mind. Most dragons to not even bespeak people who are not theirs." She considers, "They have to be very interested or like the person to spend much time at all talking to them." She stops right there, "But don't you see? The fact that he even asked her the question tells me it's not psychological. Crazy people don't usually do that."

Master Fraille 's laugh isn't exactly whole hearted. "We don't know what crazy people usually do. That's one of the qualifiers." She glances at the massive tree in the middle of the Weyr and comments, "Nice specimen. I think I've only ever seen one other tree in the entire area that's bigger, and isn't a skybroom." Then she turns, seeming to be done with the conversation, and calls, "Keep the kids away from it or you'll have a whole lawn full of cross-eyed daisies that drool in the morning…"

"Please!" As Master Fraille turns away, Thea calls after her, "Don't tell them about it! Don't tell the healers. Tenebrous says it's potent, too potent and deadly, but it is special to me. I… I couldn't bear if they cut it down!"

Master Fraille laughs a little, not bothering to turn around. "Let's be very clear about how much of a flit's fart I give about your tree. The boy's right. No healer in his right mind would go anywhere near it, and there's a whole forest of trees to cut down if the wood crafters get trigger happy. Unbind thy panties, Weyrwoman."

"I'm thinking they'd cut it down to keep the kids away from it, not for the wood! But I'd be willing to bet marks you already knew that." Thea's been goaded to her limit so the words come out less than respectful. She steps after Fraille, "So… Tenebous. Can he still come see Seryth, then? And talk to me if he wants? Without you appearing to chase him off?"

Master Fraille does stop for that, looking over her shoulder at Thea. "You know what's what…for the most part. He's probably safer here than anywhere else on the damn continent…" Then she grins. "Besides. If you do break him, I'll know where to hunt you down. So yeah, visit away!" With a coarse laugh, she starts off again, but you can clearly hear her talking to herself. "But for the love of all things holy, keep your clothes on…children always carryin' about with their pants around their ankles…He's probably never even SEEN a pair of…" and her voice drifts off into the night.

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