A leap of Faith

Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest Waterfall

How could I have possibly missed this? Anyone who frequently travels the deep woods between Xanadu Weyr and the mountains to the west might ask themselves that question upon stumbling onto this place for the first time. A waterfall, easily a hundred feet tall, dominates the immediate area, commanding attention. Like something from a storybook, it stands before you, flanked on either side by sentinel trees and mountain brush mired in stone-spotted soil. Water cascades over a beaten rock face at its peak, flowing down in a white-capped torrent to crash into a small, crystal clear pond below.

The bottom of the pond itself appears to be mostly smoothed out rocks, possibly carried over the falls some time ago, and a light dusting of silt. The sides of the pond are steep, offering a good three foot drop to the glassy surface itself and it appears to be quite deep in certain places. The occasional harmless-looking fish flickers through the water, being careful to avoid the more turbulent impact zone of the falls themselves. Someone appears to have moved several flat stones over to the lowest portion of the pond's shoreline, fashioning a makeshift set of stairs down to the pond itself and making a convenient exit for anyone who might want to swim.

Seryth hears from Tenebrous as he somewhat sadly laments, "I should have done this a long time ago…" Though he doesn't specify what THIS is."

It makes almost poetic sense that this would be the place of Tenebrous' refuge, so fantastic is this place. The day is warm for fall and the sun shines highly in the sky as Thea and Seryth land…but no one appears to be present.

It's a worried-looking Thea who slides off of Seryth, giving the place a long, careful look around, "You're sure Flop came down here? I don't see anyone." The queen rumbles affirmative, then plaintively warbles for the young man, then gives her Rider a look that plainly says, Might that help? Thea steps towards the falls, cups her hands to her mouth and calls only loud enough to be heard above the sound of the roaring water. "Tenebrous?" She listens intently, eyes watching the underbrush, the branches of the trees for movement. Any movement.

She is rewarded for her efforts. There, at the very height of the falls, a form stands upon the rocks, long coat whipping in the higher winds above the falls' protective barrier. A brief flicker of motion causes the figure to jerk once…and then fall. It almost looks fake, his descent, looking so slow form a distance, and yet happening so fast. The body is limp, and the winds toss it out from the rushing tide of water. His body pinwheels once from the force, and then blasts into the surface of the pond's deeper section with what appears to be crushing force, the massive spray obscuring him from view…

There really isn't all that much time to react. Thea remains rooted to the spot with a blank stare as what appears to be Tenebrous drops from the top of the falls. Her eyes follow his course down in amazed stupefaction until that splendid body-slam into the water. She's just too dazed to do anything else but gape at the pond.

The surface of the lake is a study in chaos for the first few seconds, seconds that feel like an eternity…but then Tenebrous slowly bobs to the surface, face up, eyes closed, and with something approaching serenity on his features. Thoughts of a strange kind of contentment, of a small victory radiate out from him…thoughts of isolated peace.

At the same moment Seryth tells her he is alright, a stunned, white-faced Thea just sits with a flump right there where she's standing upon the grass. Seryth's foreleg is just behind her and it's a good thing, because if it weren't she likely would not have the energy to remain sitting upright. She leans back against it and simply watches him float. He couldn't have missed the huge gold dragon below as he took the fall, so she knows he knows they are there. She'll wait.

"I know you're there," comes the quiet call from the pond. "I could feel you in my mind…I can still feel you in my mind." There's quiet splashing as Tenebrous' body floats closer, his clothing stuck to him in some patches and spread out around him in others in the water. Then he goes silent, letting his mind range out. Alone? Or is *she* here?

There is only silence to that comment for a long period of time before wind tugs at his mind, the kind that can howl through the skeletal trees just before winter. This one, though, is but a whisper, « She is here. You frightened her badly. » The current in her words is one of stern, quiet disapproval, « That was not nice. » Her presence remains there, as it has been since she took him *Between* and there is the distinct sense that, while she is not angry, she is annoyed. Thea, for her part, remains silent and immobile.

Tenebrous sighs, the sound almost unnoticed amidst the rush of the water in the area. «But it was necessary. Sometimes we bleed to know we're alive.» There's more of that splashing, and then Tenebrous vanishes from sight, obscured by the shoreline. You said she left. …Shy happiness… But she came back. Then, as if by magic, Tenebrous levitates out of the water, standing straight up. First, his face comes into view, those strange blue eyes focused on Thea's face, and then his neck. The wounds are healing slowly, but they heal…whether or not they scar has yet to be seen. His face is suspiciously clean shaven, save for a little scratch along one cheek. Then the rest of him raises into view, his torso, his hips and legs, until he steps up onto the shore itself, water cascading down off of his hide coat and hair. "You came back," he says quietly, this time out loud.

Thea remains right where she is, her legs folded to one side, arms limp by her side, the clear green of her wide eyes take in the healing wounds, the scratch and his expression as they watch him emerge from the pool. She merely nods mutely to his statement and it seems she will not speak until she manages to find her voice and reply through pale lips, "Yes, I did." She draws a shaky breath, "And you can thank Faranth I didn't have Master Fraille with me to see you take that plunge. She would not have survived it."

Tenebrous murmurs, "She does not know about this place." A pause. "And she's terrified of heights. Though, I admit, none of those things crossed my mind on the way down, when I saw Seryth…" He absently strips his long coat from his shoulders and lays it on the grass. That done, he turns to face Thea again, his features blank. "She told me you'd…gone."

Thea moves her head to blink up at him. She nods, "I had no choice. D'son sent me away. I didn't want to go." She frowns, adding, "Master Fraille told me she would watch you, but you disappeared, not that I blame you for that, but…" She shakes her head, her face showing the worry she's been carrying, "We were frantic to find you. Flop helped…" She turns her head to peer about, "She was here…"

Tenebrous nods slowly. "If she's here, I know where she is…she has a favorite spot, if you will. It's out of the way." He draws closer yet, his face a little sad. "I'm sorry that you worried, Thea…" He rubs one side of his face again, the side with the scratch, and winces absently. "I'm not used to…worrying people."

Thea blinks back at Tenebrous soberly, "It's…It's okay now that I know you're alright." Her eyes are keen on his as she confirms, "You -are- all right aren't you?" She allows him time to decide if he is before adding, "I am so sorry we took you *Between*. Never should have done that. I just wasn't thinking." Emotions of sorrow, self-blame and chagrin flicker over her face, "Can you ever forgive me for that?"

Tenebrous leans in at the end of Thea's last statement, not hurried, and kisses her. It's not hard or firm or heated. It's simply there, and giving, and strangely understanding. It lasts only a brief moment, just short of lingering before he pulls away, looking into her eyes. "I'm not Ok, Thea. But it's not y our fault. What happened wasn't your fault, do you understand?" His gaze is intense, and one hand reaches up in a soothing gesture to brush some of her hair out of her face. "This is not your fault."

Thea does her absolute best not to stiffen and shy away from that kiss and she manages to keep herself in check, although her face gives her away, for there is dismayed surprise written all over it. She blinks at him for a moment, absolutely nonplussed. Her voice is gentle, but firm, "Do not do that again, please, Tenebrous." A lop-sided smile pulls at her mouth as she explains, "We're friends, yeah?" She waits for him to nod or something. "Kisses, well… they're for people who are more than friends. And mine… they belong to someone else." Her eyes plead for understanding before she adds, "Maybe not our fault, but we made it worse by *Betweening* with you."

Tenebrous hmphs in a quiet gust of laughter. "So much for new things," he offers. "I saw someone do that to one of the apprentices at the hall and it seemed to make things better." He stands abruptly. "And yeah, you probably made it worse." he starts back towards the pond before shooting Seryth a look full of amusement. "You could have told me not to do that."

Seryth merely rumbles amusement at that. Thea, she just shakes her head with a half-smile, "You have missed a lot, I think, growing up in the forests. Copying behaviors without understanding them, well-" She chuckles, "Try asking some questions about what you're seeing first? Someone else might've smacked you upside the head." She stands as Tenebrous walks towards the pond, calling after, "Dragons don't really understand kissing and I doubt she knew your intent beforehand."

Tenebrous snorts, not turning around. "I think they understand more than they let on. That one, at least…" He shoots Seryth another smile. Then, somewhat abruptly, he calls, "Flop!" There's a small puff of mist near the waterfall itself, and then Flop appears out of nowhere, flapping her way over to Tenebrous' outstretched arm. "You brought them here, did you?"

A haze of misty rain enters the young man's mind, « She is right, I really cannot read your pre-thoughts. I can know all of hers because she is mine, we are one. You and I… are not.» The words are merely imparted fact, nothing more, falling into his mind as drops lit through with sunlight, « My words come into your mind because you listen. Your words come to mine, but your intent is not always clear. » Her presence withdraws as steam curls off rock warmed by Rukbat. Thea simply waits for Tenebrous to do whatever he's going to do with Flop, "I need to let Master Fraille that you are here. She… deserves to know. Unless… you want to come back with me and tell her yourself?"

"No," comes the curt reply. "You can tell her if you wish. I know that Flop will confirm the story in her own little way." He looks back over his shoulder at Thea for a moment, his face a mixture of emotions. I remember why I was envious, he thinks. Then he turns back to Flop and murmurs, "Go home." Flop makes a little noise, obviously not happy, but flutters off towards the trees.

Thea almost steps after him, but the look on his face stops her and she merely nods. Instead she swings up Seryth's side, calling down to him, "Will you be here, then? Or will you fade away and we won't know where you are?" Seryth lifts her wings, her neck snaking out towards the young man with a whuff of farewell. Thea's busy unstrapping a bundle from the queen's harness. "Almost forgot." The bundle is let loose to tumble to the ground, "Foodstuffs, clothes and some things Master Fraille put in there."

Tenebrous watches Flop fly out of the area before turning to watch Thea mount up. "Leaving again," he says quietly, though it's clear that he's talking about Thea now. "Are we, Thea?" He bends down to pick up the pack after pacing over to it. He rolls it over in his hands, murmuring, "Friends?" He looks back up at her.

Thea looks down at him, "I am your friend, Tenebrous. I have been for a long time," she says it warmly. "Whether you are mine, is up to you to decide." She leans over to better meet his eyes with a smile that crinkles the corners of hers, "Not leaving. Going back to the Weyr. It is my home… and Seryth's." She gestures with one hand to the surrounding forests, "This is beautiful, but we can't stay here." She sits up, "Can we come back and visit?"

Tenebrous gestures off to the south. "Don't forget your dragon…getting here on foot is asking to break your neck unless you're…well, Me." He sets the pack down on the ground, and quietly moves over to Seryth's muzzle. One hand scratches each side on the bottom of her jaw. "You should have more faith in yourself," he murmurs. Still broken…but at least I know where the pieces are now Thanks to you.

Seryth hums at the scratching, giving a nudge for good measure before gently lifting her head and stepping back. Her spring into the air is coupled wit a few strong wingbeats that lift her above the canopy. She hovers there long enough for Thea's voice to reach him, "I never forget my dragon." There's a bit of a laugh in the words, then the gold tilts on a wingtip and glides back towards the Weyr. Her voice echoes in his mind, clear and strong even though she is out of sight. It is a gentle farewell, the last rains of summer to nourish the dry spell to come, « Now it is up to you to put them together, if you so choose. » Her presence fades gradually, but surely, leaving him with… himself.

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