They Ought to Worry

Xanadu Weyr - Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.

The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the rock edifice where, high above on Xanadu's Star Stones, the ever-present watchdragon sits on the lonely peak. Directly south is the hatching arena, the large round complex taking up a large portion of the perimeter, a line of trees visible beyond it. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the infirmary is a human-sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Wandering Wherry Tavern. Tucked neatly under the arch, to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Petals and Pots Garden Shop'. Southwest lies cliffs where windows for the administrative offices have been cut. Underneath them are the entrances to the crafters complex and the resident's cavern while north and west along the cliff's base, a broad path leads to the feeding grounds. Due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr - the meadow, the forest beyond.

When bad things happen, it's sometimes hard to figure out the correct way to process them. Most assuredly, the initial reaction to the too recent screams of a dragon in the middle of the night is panic. A jolt to the heart that startles one out of bed. A mass confusion of foggy headed bodies tense with the fear of the unknown. And then, everything else happened fast. To the sands. To the fiery heat that rivaled anything felt in the forges. Panicked and angry dragons. Hurried movements. Hastily carried eggs. Near dropped eggs. And then the aftermath of not knowing. ka-el found getting back to sleep impossible to do, and thus stayed up with countless others, listening to worried murmurs and wild (or not so wild) speculations. And now, with hours passed and a day nearly gone by, there's still the unknown. What happens now? Are the eggs ok? The dragons? What happened with the sands? What does this mean for candidates? Kale does not know who to direct his worry towards. The dragons? Their riders? Himself? The weyr as a whole? Should he even be worried about anything? If those eggs really are lost, what difference does it really make? And so he aimlessly walks, for once mindless of the settled snow as he exits the arena, for the skies remain clear as the sun sinks closer to the horizon. Alloy has yet to return, having disappeared sometime in the chaos, and this he turns his mind towards that, hands stuffed in his pockets and brows furrowed.

In the din and panic at first, it was hard even to keep track of those who started from the bunk next to yours. In the speculation after, though… Soriana wasn't there. She wasn't even there when morning classes came - not that there were really classes. Geography drills, of areas already covered in past weeks and the teachers were nearly as absent-minded as the students, barely even noticing the errors and not commenting at all when some of their students weren't paying attention, were talking quietly or even sleeping, heads on their desks. Sori wasn't there, and her bed was still in the disarray of hurried waking - plus an extra lump, of small gold and, eventually, brown with wings draped over her. A gobbet of stolen meat, staining the sheets as the barracks slowly go from hot to cool as the winter's chill overpowers the residual warmth of the sands. Nor for her assigned chores of the afternoon - though she was hardly the only one skipping out on those. Nevertheless, she wasn't there. This may well be the first sign of her all day, shuffling out from the hatching arena with Haruhi cradled in her arms. The demanding little queen is, for once, silent.

Definitely, there is not a lack of things to worry about nowadays. Not for anyone who has called the barracks home for the past month or so. And unquestionably not for anyone who calls the bronze, brown, or either one of the golds family. It's not a good day, most definitely. Kale's eyes lift from the snow and instead turn to the skies above, scanning slowly from one point of the horizon to the other. But things seem uncharacteristically quiet. A louder silence than the deafening roars from the night before. A frosty breath is exhaled slowly through barely parted lips, and he changes directions, his listless walk turning in the general direction of the woods. But from the corner of his eyes he spies movement. Not a flying or scurrying kind that he's seeking, but a more humanesque one. A human that he hasn't seen all day. His brows rise fractionally as he pauses, eyeing Soriana with a look that shifts towards concern. Direction changes again, this time towards her and her young gold. "How's your mother? How's Yumeth?" No hello, idle chitchat, or even a smile of greeting. This is not a good day for him. It's definitely not one for her.

For all that Haruhi isn't fussing, Soriana is still petting her soothingly. It's one of those gestures that's meant to calm the one giving it as much as the one receiving. Sori stops at the words, looking at Kale. "Worried," she answers with no more preliminaries. It's an answer true for both gold and rider, and others besides. "I…" All her words fail her, all the dragon-related facts she might ordinarily spout. Dragons live in the now, but that doesn't mean they don't remember - or that the now in that annex isn't deeply wrong to the queens. It's just too much to make sense of now, and Sori's face shows the tiredness, the worry, the vast inapproachability of it. Veer away, say other things. "They've got a cot in for my mom. She was going to try to sleep." That's what she said as Sori left, anyhow. Who knows if it's actually true?

Worried. A nagging, constant feeling that usually only has only one distinct solution to rid yourself of it. For him, Alloy's return. For her. Her mother and Yumeth's clutch safe and healthy and hatching. Both things which are out of their hands and can only continue to hope for while trying to keep minds away from every possible negative possibility, which always seem more powerful and manifest more often than the happy positive ones. Worrying … sucks. Kale's mouth downturns as he watches her, understanding the weariness he notes on her face. The overall lackluster spirit. "Do they have a cot for you too?" He moves nearer to her, moving a gloved hand to place on her arm and gently squeeze, raising it after to tuck away unruly strands of windblown hair. "Where are y'headed? I'll go with you. If y'just need to walk, I'll walk with you," he says, head just slightly angling to one side as brows rise.

"No. I'm not gonna ask, either. One of the dragonhealers gives me these dirty looks whenever he sees me, I'm not givin' him an excuse." A flare of defiance in her tone, because at least this small battle is one she can actually fight… not that it's escalated to outright battle yet. The flash of anger's gone as quickly as it appeared, and her eyes flick to Kale's hand on her arm almost as if she's surprised to see it there before looking up to him again. "I… don't know. I just…" She starts moving again, slowly. "They keep checking the eggs. There's a temperature readout, and there's this test with air, and… Yumeth doesn't like it. Every time they do it…" Sori shakes her head, trailing off.

Kale nods his head once in answer to her in regards to her cot and the less than amicable dragonhealer. Geeze! You'd think they'd be a bit more understanding, given the situation! But Kale can only assume they have their hands full with two injured clutches and likely aren't in the best of moods either. As she walks, he does too, eyes drifting from her to glance towards the forges. But if he's hoping to pick up anything radiating from that direction, he's largely disappointed. Attention is returned to Soriana, hands drifting back to his pockets now. "M'sure your mother's letting her know that they're only tryin' to help, eh? I mean, I know that's probably not much comfort to 'er, but…" The statement is ended with a shake of his head, not really having much else to end it with. Any conversation or question regarding Yumeth, her mother, or the eggs would be treading fragile territory. But, alas, it is a topic of importance. "..When will they know if the eggs are alright? Have they said anything?"

Soriana simply nods. Of course Sorrin's reassuring Yumeth. Of course it's simultaneously crucial and doesn't do any good. She sighs, continuing on in silence for a while - she doesn't exactly have anywhere to go, just getting away for a bit. She probably should go to the caverns, to get some hot food and some fresh meat for Haruhi to go with what Toral's been scavenging all day. She doesn't want to; there are other people there. Questions, and not everyone will be as sensitive about them as Kale. …and even Kale asks the questions she doesn't want to think about. She's silent for a moment before she answers, but she does answer. "They don't know." She kicks a stray clump of snow. "When they're talking to my mom, they're all about thinking positive and how she has to hope, has to encourage Yumeth… but then they talk when they don't think anyone's listening, and they sound like big words and bad news."

He doesn't break the silence when it stretches. Sometimes talking isn't what's needed at all. At times, merely being with someone is enough. Not enough to cause bad feelings and worries to magically disappear, but enough to make one feel as if they aren't alone in the situation. That it isn't theirs to bear alone. The dragonhealers sound like human healers in serious situations. Encouraging, yet two faced, for that other face is the truth that they don't want to be known. Bad News. "I'm sorry," he says, knowing very well that sorry isn't what she or anyone else needs. The techcrafters will say the same. They're sorry. Something went wrong with their hurried design, and they are so very sorry for it. But when has sorry ever fixed anything, really? Kale is not good at consoling. He's good at making people laugh. To make sad people grin and feel better. But that's with superficial sadness. I failed a test sadness. I had a fight with a friend sadness. This sort of sadness is on a whole different level, and humor isn't the fix for it. His eyes drift in the direction of the beach and linger. Something. Anything.. Nothing. "What you're feelin', I'd bear it for you if I could," he says, looking at her again. "I know I can't, but jus' know y'don't have to bear it alone." A soft smile, barely there, touches his lips.

The apology from Kale gets a shrug, and Soriana's silent again for a time. This is… waiting. It was waiting before, but then… it was waiting for something wonderful. The morning of a turnday or a Gather. Now? It's waiting to find out just how bad things are. It's not Soriana's tragedy, not really. It's not her mind that's bound to Yumeth's - but the golden dragon is a part of her earliest memories. Turns out, there's plenty of tragedy to go around. As Kale speaks again, Sori looks to him. "You can't," she agrees, her voice flat… but a moment later, she shifts Haruhi in her arms and reaches out one hand, seeking for his to take gloved fingers. Her voice is soft, and if she doesn't manage a smile, there is at least an emotion there past the deadness of worry, beyond the moments of anger. "I'm glad you're here."

His fingers curl about hers, covered hand gently holding hers. "I'm glad, too." Glad to have found her. To have her with him. To keep him occupied. To keep her occupied. He's glad for Haruhi, who is safe. The absence of Toral is worrisome, though he dare not ask his whereabouts for fear that they may be as unknown as his bronze's, and thus add more fuel to the fire of dismal feelings. His grip on her hand tightens slightly as he glances ahead to the light of the caverns, then to the expanse of meadow. "Let's go somewhere we haven't been before," he says, glancing her way. "At least, not together. Y'shouldn't go back to the annex for a bit. Let your mother rest, an' Yumeth too. Let the dragonhealer think he's gotten rid've you, then ruin his day by showin' up later," said with a margin of a grin. "Will you come with me?"

Soriana keeps her hand held with Kale's, Haruhi nestled in the crook of the other arm. It's only a little awkward, and she's glad for his presence, glad for the touch in a way that makes her willing to deal with quite a bit of awkwardness in order to keep it. She glances back to the annex - picturing what lies inside there, and considering. There's the eggs, the dragons, her mother. Sori may not be a child anymore, but it's still strange to find something her mother can't fix. Here it is, though; all Sori can do is not add any more to it. Just staying out of the way… and she can do that out here just as well as in there. If something else happens… well, there's nothing she'll be able to do about it, whether she's there or not. She nods, letting Kale persuade her with all his little reasons. "All right. Let's go." She looks to him to lead the way, glad for his company and willing to let herself be distracted… for a time.

Xanadu Weyr - Clock Tower
Deep in the foliage at the side of the landing field, a small path gives way to a rather large clearing. Within the center of this patch of bareness amongst the trees and other plants of the jungle stands a square clocktower, rising up through the canopy of trees. The structure is made of a dark gray stone, and each corner is framed by a thick wooden beam. Beside the clocktower, a large lake has been dug. It's obviously an artificial lake, as it's shaped too perfectly oblong-shaped.
The tall, towering structure rises up easily past the leafy growth of the forest, three sections of bare gray stone walls stacked atop each other, each one slightly smaller than the one it's built on top of. Each one of these "sections" is joined with more of the same dark wood that frames the corners of the tower. The wood forms a framing around the top and bottom of each section. Near the top of the structure, right under one of the clock's faces, there's a ledge with railings. This ledge is big enough for a dragon to land upon.
There are no windows in the tower, merely one slit in the middle of each one of the four walls that make up each section. They look like they could be used to mount an attack from the inside. There's only one door in the place, it seems—a dark wooden door that matches the beams that frame the clocktower. It seems to be the only entrance to the tower.
//A loud ticking sound permeates the air from above, not so loud that it's painful, but enough that it's heard well. It's not overly loud, but it's loud enough to be heard. The clock at the top of the structure keeps near-perfect time; it strikes the hour, every hour…one strike at one, two strikes at two, etc. But at noon and midnight, it strikes eight times, a melody from old Earth, before striking the hour.

Getting away may only be a temporary fix for the both of them. A brief reprieve away from curious looks, curious questions, words of apology, and prying gossipers. For Kale, escaping his own mind, which oddly feels … lonely. But a temporary thing may be better than no relief at all, and her acceptance of his offer strengthens that marginal smile by a fraction. He nods and with his hand still holding hers, moves away from the lights of the caverns. Away from the thick worry that radiates from the annex. Away from the familiarity of the forges. Leaving behind thoughts of Alloy. He guides her through the clearing and to the forest, allowing silence to stretch, other than one offer to carry Haruhi. But it's not an awkward silence. Those bloating things that become elephants that arise when neither can think of anything to say to entertain the other. It's just silence, accented with the crunching of snow beneath boots and a breeze that wisps through naked branches above. He continues on, veering off a beaten path and heading onto one unseen and less traveled. His destination becomes increasingly clear by the tall tower that seems to grow taller the closer they get to it. A rhythmic ticking, low and soft at this level, can be heard from high above. The clock tower seems a lonely presence here. Hardly visited by those who don't tend to its upkeep. A monolith that keeps watch over the weyr.

Soriana shakes her head to the offer, but it's with a little, almost apologetic twist of her lips. "I've… sort of neglected her, today." Time to make up for it now, though as they continue on, the baby firelizard seems to be falling asleep. She's clearly been fed, at least, and if the gold is quieter than usual… well, Kale can doubtless guess at reasons for that with ease, what with his own bronze still missing. Their breath is puffs of steam in the air, and they continue on, hand in hand, to the clock tower. Soriana tilts her head, gaze traveling up along the tower, then back down to Kale. Tick. Tock. Why not? The snow around the base is practically untrampled. They're not likely to be disturbed. Good enough.

Kale pauses outside of the only entrance that seems visible from the tower. A simple door, nothing fancy. Above them, slotted windows can be seen reaching higher and higher, a few found within each tier of the building. He tests the door. Unlocked, as usual. Why lock a place that seems so forgotten? "Three flights up," he says with a half smirk her way. Three flights up the spiraling staircase is nowhere near the top, so she'll be spared the what could be deafening sound of the hour's chime when that time comes (plus a rather good workout of who knows how many steps), if they're still about. The ticking at that level is enough to drive anyone insane if listened for too long. "Up for it?"

Three flights? As challenges go, this one is on the weak side. Still, the pure principle of a challenge is enough to draw forth a bit of a smile. "'m not carrying you," she says. Even just the walk was enough to restore some of her spirit - not that she's forgotten the worry, but… there really isn't anything she can do. It's good to get away. It's even good to climb stairs - at least with those, she'll get somewhere, defeating the steps one at a time. So… she starts climbing! Up and up, as the ticking of the clock grows louder. Haruhi lifts that sleepy head, listening to the sounds.

Some day he'll race her to the top (and win mightily!), but not today. The door is pulled shut behind him, keeping the illusion of "nobody's here" despite the pair of footprints that would lead anyone curious enough right to them, and follows her up. Her hand has been released, and her jibing remark inspires a roll of his eyes. "If I fell y'would. You wouldn't have the heart to leave me behind after I brought ya all this way. Plus, you owe me. Remember when I…did you a favor?" Yes, nice and generic. He's sure he did her a favor at some point. One that would need to be repayed! Up, up, up they go, slowly climbing the twist of a cyclone. Eventually, they do reach that third floor, and it may become less of a wonder as to why he wanted to stop here. The space is a workshop with shelves upon shelves of clocks and timepieces, mostly all disassembled in some way. Gears and hands of varying sizes are spread on one table, while another has a few unfinished faces. A half opened draw displays various clockwork motors, and tools are neatly organized upon a wall shelf and hanging from nails. A stool is set near the main worktable, while off in the opposite side of the room is a study area of sorts, complete with a bookshelf stocked with relevant reads, two cushioned seats, and a throw rug that's more than a bit worn with age. "Welcome to the clock shop," Kale says with a growing smirk. "Where time is /always/ of the essence."

Soriana just shakes her head to Kale's retorts. No quick rejoinders from her, not right now… but the curve of the stair reveals a glimpse or three of most of a smile as they climb along. Once there at the workshop, she looks around curiously… and rolls her eyes at Kale's introduction to the room. "More like the essence is of time." That said, she crosses the room to inspect the gears and other clockwork bits. "Neat," is her considered opinion, and she picks up one of the clock hands to inspect before carefully putting it back down where it came from. Haruhi tilts her head, expressing an interest of her own in the shiny objects, and Soriana steps away before the gold can cause trouble, crossing to that study area and looking along the titles of those books. Not that they mean much to her. One mechanical tome is much like another when you don't know the subject. Big words!

Kale does not shadow her as she gets acquainted with the surroundings. So much to see and all! He hangs back while she roams, moving towards the worktable to glance at one of the various unfinished projects. Not quite fixed watches. Blueprints for some half thought out invention. "I like it here," he muses, pushing closed that half opened drawer. "Had a sevenday and a half of clockwork courses. Asked for another sevenday once it was done. Mostly because've this place," he admits, pushing away from the table now to join her. "He has his classes here, when he's around. They aren't ever very big," he smirks, pulling of his winter cap before flopping onto one of those seats. "But, I like the sound. Hearin' the seconds go by. Time.. doesn't change. All these pieces measure it the same way. A watch, a clock, a pocket piece. Doesn't matter. Time's time." Gloves are pulled off as he speaks, and he extends a hand to her in unspoken invitation to join him.

Soriana tilts her head back to look at the ceiling, to where that steady tick of the clock comes from. "It reminds me of… something. I'm not sure what." She purses her lips, considering, then shakes her head as she lowers it again. The regular, steady sound has a calming effect at an unconscious level, and there's a trace of a smile as she crosses the room to Kale. Not on her lips, exactly, but just in the slight relaxation of some muscles, the little lift of others. She pushes the other seat closer before she takes it, settling Haruhi on her lap and leaning sideways to touch her head to Kale's shoulder as the golden firelizard is soothed to sleep once more. "So clocks're smithcraft, huh?" she says. Smithcraft. Not techcraft, which at the moment is a volatile-emotioned subject she hasn't worked through. Safe (hah!), stable (hah!) smithcraft.

"I don' know what it reminds me of, but it makes my mind settle when I'm here." And a settled mind both of them could use, at least for a moment before turmoil and trouble bombards them again. As her head comes to his shoulder, his arm lifts to rest upon the back of her seat, fingers idly touching, grazing, flicking her hair. "Smith, aye. I didn't realize it either til I was told I'd be studyin' here a bit. First lesson I ever had?" he says, a trace of a smirk now on his lips. "I come in here an' old master Motche…an' I swear he has to be about a thousand turns. Anyhow, he's here an' maybe three other apprentices. We sit right here an' he comes over, lookin' like he's got the greatest secret've the world. He stands there," his free hand is gestured to the area in front of the bookcase, "an' goes: When I was a boy, our clock stopped workin'. So, my da an' I took it to the clockmaster an' he asked what the problem was. I told'm 'Our clock doesn' ticktock anymore. It only says tick, tick, tick.' The clockmaster takes our clock, looks it directly in its face an' says, 'I have ways of makin' you tock!'" Kale pauses, then laughs. "No lie. It was the funniest thing I ever heard."

Soriana's eyes go to the indicated spot, though of course there's no ancient master there. Still, as she listens to Kale's story, she can halfway picture him standing there, telling one of those inspirational stories for the beginning of a course of study- wait. It takes a moment for it to sink in. All that… was just the setup for a horrible joke? She turns her head up to look at him, with a combination of dubious and, oh hey, a smirk. Yeah, it's a terrible joke, but… sometimes that's just what you need. "I think," she says as she settles her head again, "-all the stuff about smiths building stuff is lies. It's actually a branch of the harpers, teaching comedy."

"S'where I get my wit from, don't you know?" remarks Kale. "But ah, shh…s'a craft secret. All that bangin' around y'hear in the forges? It's just noise we have the first turn apprentices do. The real action happens in a back room. Comedy all day an' night. One liners. Stories. Knock knocks. You name it. Before we leave, we roll around in ash an' coals a bit, jus' to keep appearances up. It's why I come out lookin' such a mess all the time. But again….shhhh. It's a secret that's been kept since the dawn've time, I'm told. You're the only non-smither who knows it. If you tell anyone. There'll be … consequences." He grins a little, a muted version of his usual look, for the talk of forges, as silly as it is, stirs thoughts of his absent bronze, which he strives to push away. His head tips to rest lightly against hers.

The smile from Soriana is also muted, but it's there. Maybe things will all work out for the best after all. Yumeth is worried, sure. The eggs are… hurt, but perhaps that's all it is. Sometimes those injuries the healers get serious about end up okay in the end. A few scars, that's all. Here, in the comfort of the clocktower with Kale's company, she can almost believe that, even if she can't exactly forget. "Oh, yeah. Got to keep up appearances. Otherwise…" something. Here's the place where she'd make a comment about how dragons are actually something or other, but she doesn't have the heart for it tonight. She can't just leave the conversation alone, though. So, after a silent moment, she recoils back on smithering… sort of. "Now, metal things… those come from the bakers, actually. They just tweak the cake recipes."

"You have it all figured out, Soriana. We obviously have t'be a bit sneaker about how we do things, else the whole conspiracy'll fall apart." The fingers that toy with the strands of her hair gradually settle, and Kall falls quiet. Of all the disassembled and broken clocks, there is at least one that still ticks. Fixed perhaps. Ready to be returned to a patient owner. That and the deeper tones of the clocktowers high face reign dominant for a while, counting the seconds away in unison. Things will take at turn for the better. They have to. If they don't, what will happen? His head lifts from hers now, and he turns his neck a little to look at her without disrupting her resting spot on his shoulder. "I'll take y'back, when you're ready. I don' have anywhere I have to be," he says before leaning in enough to press a kiss to her hair. "So we can stay here as long as y'want."

Little clock, big clock, tick and tock. For all that there's a constant reminder of time passing here, things seem a great deal less urgent, less rushed than they did back in the annex. Less hurry up and wait. "All right," says Soriana, and then she's quiet for a moment, though the kiss makes her smile softly. "We'll go back later." No when is given, nor reasons for waiting said aloud. They don't need to be. She reaches her hand over to rest lightly on his leg. "Thanks," she says softly, and rests like that for long moments - even drifts to the edges of sleep, for it's been a very long day and now at last she feels as if she can rest. A chair in the clocktower is hardly suited to prolonged naps, though, and it's the relaxation that's more important than the sleep itself. Finally, she's ready to depart, back through the crunching snow on another cold and quiet Xanadu night.

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