A Toast To Friendship

Ista Weyr - Wall of Names

This area was hidden for many a turn, lost to knowledge as no more riders lost their lives to thread and other deaths on duty became farther between. The ground entrance was in the main tube, mostly concealed by fallen rock until recently. The air entrance had been overgrown with vines until it was recently cleared to reveal the area's original intent…

A floor of hard-packed clay has been formed, here, a flat surface large enough for a half a dozen bronze dragons to land upon, all at once. Breathtakingly precipitous cliff-faces, several dragonlenths high, surround three sides of the flat surface, large chasms falling far below to the sounds of waves crashing along the beach. The far side of the precipice forms a cliff-face of its own, a huge, wide expanse of black stone laid flat - and filled with small carved words: the names of riders and their lifemates past and present that had passed between in the line of duty. Each grouping of names is marked by the pass in which they died.

An air of solemnity hangs here, the stillness underscored by lack of any sign of human habitation for many turns. The miners who found this ledge have commented that perhaps it is haunted as some say they can hear the whispers of riders long gone carried on the winds. Whether it is a trick of nature, wind whistling through the rocks and crevices, many will not comment. This solemn feeling often causes mostmost people save for the most brash to speak in hushed voices without ever realizing it.

It's a quiet A'dar and his lifemate Zeituth that are sitting atop one of the countless ledges in this hushed area. If the two are speaking, it's mentally. However, it's not as tranquil a scene as one might initially think. The astute will note that A'dar's expression is pinched in a frown that he has rarely gone without for almost a turn. And Zeituth's eyes swirl with gray and light blue. Clearly there is more here than first meets the eye.

There's the slow, steady tap tap of footsteps as someone approaches the ledge, the person muttering, "..didn't think to ask, shoulda though. Shardit all.." and the voice sighs, accompanied by the quiet croon of a firelizard. Cenlia is.. lost. She's also grumbling at her flits. All five of them. Though at present only little midnight-blue Rogue is perched on her shoulder, the other four following behind her without much concern. The gardener girl is dressed in her usual garden attire, loose pants and shirt, and good sturdy boots, though her toolbelt had been swapped for a rather large bag which she carries slung over one shoulder. Her steps and her words halt, however, as she finally comes within sight of the dragon and… his rider. And that wall. It's debatable which one of those has her eyes widening suddenly, but after a moment she does say hesitantly, as if she's unsure of if it's actually him, "A'dar?" After two turns in a weyr, even the holdbred farmcrafter can tell a dragon's not in a good mood with those color eyes, and the girl furrows her brow slightly, though she doesn't move any closer yet.

The distracted expression on A'dar's face suddenly disappears as he hears his name called, and he stands, to see where the voice came from. "…Cenlia?" he calls down from the ledge. Zeituth stands as well, and crouches so that A'dar can mount his back. The two fly down, and as Zeituth comes close to the ground, A'dar actually slides from the blue's back, falling the short distance to the ground. Zeituth lands a moment later, giving a greeting to Cenlia that sounds more like a mew or whimper than his usual croon or rumble.
"…Hello there…it's been a while, hasn't it…?" A'dar greets. He sounds pleasant enough…but doesn't smile. His voice is different; it's lower, deeper. He's all grown up now…no longer a child. But the light in his eyes is gone.

Cenlia stays where she is, just watching the pair approach, and admittedly looking a little impressed at A'dar's sliding-falling landing there. She does manage a smile though, and a, "Hey," for both rider and dragon, Zeituth getting a curious look for the noise he makes, before she's glancing back at A'dar and stepping toward the two with a, "Yeah, 's been awhile. Been lookin' everywhere for ya-" and then she stares. At him. There's no hiding the startled expression on her face as she gets a closer look at him, the girl blurting out a quieter, "Shards, what happened to you?" before she can stop herself. And then she clamps her mouth shut. Subtlety? She has it not. She can probably guess, from the rumors, and her face is likely painfully readable as she does a mental backpedal of sorts.

"Life happened," A'dar replies, giving the closest thing to a smile that he's offered up to this point. However, it's more of a smirk, wry and sarcastic. He doesn't want to burden other people with his troubles. After all…life is life, and his refusal to ruin other people's lives to make a comfortable existence for himself is a decision he'll just have to deal with. "To explain the scars…I'm in Ocean Sapphire…and we recently raided the Renegades' camp."

"Life?" Cenlia sounds almost skeptical there, eyebrows going up, "Shards, an' I thought I'd find you somewhere makin' clocks." Straightforward as ever, though the gardener girl seems to have gotten over the initial surprise, eyeing A'dar for a moment the same way she might eye the shrubbery. At his explanation of renegades, the girl actually blanches, muttering a flat, "Oh." Right. "Heard about that," she mumbles, eyebrows coming together momentarily, and then she looks away, but the frown on her face is only temporary as she's swinging the large bag off her shoulder and saying, "'M glad yer alright." She looks back at him, hesitating a moment before asking, "You ain't busy, are ya?"

A'dar looks uncomfortable as Cenlia mentions that she'd heard about it. But it's quickly covered up, though he closes his eyes as she blanches. "Yes. The rumors are true. I took a life," he states flatly. He raises his eyes then, and looks straight at Cenlia. His gaze is flat, unflinching. However, as she mentions him being 'all right', he offers a quiet snort of laughter…laughter that's completely devoid of amusement. And then her question. "…No, I'm not. Not at this moment. I'm still off-duty; the healers are concerned I'm not ready to go back to work yet."

Unfortunately, Cenlia didn't hear /all/ the rumors. She stares at A'dar again, startled. Took a life? "What?" it's uttered without thinking. She meets his gaze, her own eyes going a little wider, completely unguarded for the moment, though the way she looks at him, it's as if she's… well, seeing someone she didn't expect. Surprise, and perhaps a little dismay. But what did she expect, really? Everybody changes. The girl wrinkles her nose at him, or perhaps at that snort of laughter, venturing an, "/Are/ ya alright?" Again, she eyes him, though she herself doesn't look too comfortable under his gaze. The bag is still held in her hands, though as she looks away again suddenly, it's only to glance at Zeituth a moment, then back at A'dar. As if considering something.

Indeed, the A'dar that Impressed at Xanadu, the one who started the clocktower, the one who made the watches…he's not here anymore. The man that looks back at Cenlia is nothing like the young man from so long ago. "…As all right as I can be," he replies. It's a sure bet there's more to it than just the raid; it seems hard to believe that he could change so sharply, so quickly. "How about you…is Xanadu treating you well…?" he inquires. The conversational air of the question may seem somewhat odd after what was just said….

Cenlia nods at his answer, seemingly having decided as she kneels down and begins undoing the ties around the top of the bag. The gardener girl is not always the most observant person, but she can spot a subject change when she sees one. Although the subject has her grimacing slightly and answering with a shrug and a muttered, "Yeah, well 'nough." The bluerider's not the only one that's changed, although Cenlia is suddenly preoccupied rummaging in the bag. She glances up at A'dar with a lopsided grin, "Been looking all over Ista for ya, figured it weren't worth it t' keep wandering by the clocktower." Yes, she's actually been doing that. Often. Or at least often enough to have decided it wasn't worth it. "Said I'd get ya that Benden wine," and she carefully pulls out a paper-wrapped, oblong package, mumbling a, "Good, still cold," as she sets it down beside her. The girl looks up toward the wall then, eyeing it curiously as she asks, "What is this place, anyways?"

A'dar offers something like a smile then, and Zeituth's eyes swirl towards something more happy…though they do not completely lose the shades of sadness. A'dar sits down near Cenlia as the girl kneels, though he still leaves a respectable distance between them. Zeituth flumps down as well, stirring up a few clouds of dust, which A'dar waves away with a tiny smile. But at least it's a smile.
He too notices a change of subject when he sees one, and simply lets the subject of her time at Xanadu drop rather than pursuing it. "I do still go by the clock tower," A'dar replies. "But not as often as I used to. Just about once a month…enough to make sure it's still in working order." He smirks slightly when he realizes what the package is. "Thank you…I'm grateful," he replies honestly.
However when she questions about what this place is, he offers a sigh, the ghosts of a smile fading quickly. "This is where the names of riders in times long past were engraved. Riders and dragons who lost their lives in the line of duty." He points up. "See? It even tells during what Pass they died. I think this was mainly for riders who fought Thread…."

Cenlia continues to pull out packages from the bag, though it seems it was half-empty to begin with. There's a clink as she unwraps two of a set of six wine glasses, tinted just slightly blue. Not mastercraft quality by any means, but not cheap either! What is she doing with those? The others she re-wraps and places back in the bag, setting the two glasses down between herself and the bluerider and saying, "Musta kept missin' ya, I guess." At the explanation of what this place is, she pauses in her rummaging, gaze following to where he points. The girl's eyes travel the length of the wall, as she mumbles, "Shards.." and gets back to her feet, leaving her things sitting there as she approaches the wall and just looks it over. The girl is chewing the inside of her cheek, silent a moment before she says, "'S a lotta names."

A'dar remains sitting as Cenlia stands. "It is indeed…" he murmurs quietly. "Lots of people died fighting Thread while it was falling. Any wonder people back then weren't interested in technology? I mean…how could you get interested in inventing things when the next moment you wake up could be your last….?" He sighs, turning his gaze to the wall. "Nobody ever comes here…that's why I live near here."

Cenlia just shakes her head, mumbling another, "Shards," as she turns and walks back to the bag, sitting down crosslegged and then tilting her head to eye A'dar a moment. "Sounds shardin' awful," she probably means the part about thread. The girl lifts the oblong package and unwraps it carefully, muttering, in a much more subdued voice than before, "'M glad there ain't no more thread. Eledri was tellin' me, all the stuff at Landing.. all the stuff that people had before. It's all," she shakes her head, unable to come up with the words, though her tone coveys something like awe. "Wish I knew how it all worked," and that's the closest the girl will ever come to admiring Eled.

A'dar nods to her statement, remaining quiet as she talks about the things at Landing. "Hmm…I don't have much technology knowledge myself," he admits. "I think things are fine the way they are. Clockwork can make up for almost anything. Though it can't make electric lights run." He offers a smirk. "Yes…it was awful." Measured pause. "I've heard that…this place is haunted….." He lets the statement hang a bit before he adds, "Though I myself have never seen anything like a ghost all the times I've come here." From the way he talks, he's been here quite a few times.

"Ain't clockwork technology too?" Cenlia asks. It all mostly goes over her head, really. To the gardener, laptops and watches are both complicated. And neat. She snorts at the mention of ghosts, glancing around and muttering, "'S prolly just old aunties tales." There's a wry smile as she comments, "Heard enough of those back home. We got apple trees that the old aunties said were planted one year exactly after the lastfall. To celebrate. Supposed to be haunted or something. I been 'round there enough nights to know, only thing haunting them apple trees was m' cousins tumbling some girls." Smirk. Cenlia finally finishes unwrapping the oblong package, taking care not to jostle it. Stuffing the paper back inside the bag, she holds the wine bottle at an angle away from both the wall, and rider and dragon. The bottle is labelled as Benden Red, the /really/ good stuff. There is no way on Pern Cenlia could have afforded this herself, though she seems fully intent on opening it as she pulls out a corkscrew and expertly pops the cork. Spilling not a drop. The gardener girl does grin then, saying to A'dar, "I figure I missed yer turnday and then some. But anyway, even if it's late," and she pours the wine into the glasses.

A'dar actually gives a soft chuckle as Cenlia mentions the 'haunted' apple trees. "I suppose it would explain the moaning, wouldn't it?" he ventures. He gives a nod as she mentions his turnday. "I've…actually lost track," he admits. "I don't bother counting the passing of time anymore. Days, sevendays, months, turns…it's all the same. Just longer periods of time passing." Pause. "I do appreciate the sentiment, though." He doesn't comment on the price of the wine. If Cenlia got it herself, good; if not, it's none of his concern, really.

Cenlia grins a bit more, "Shards, moaning weren't the half of it," and she shakes her head, setting the wine bottle down and lifting one glass for herself, leaving the other for him. She raises an eyebrow at A'dar, "What, ya dun't celebrate yer turnday? Ain't no fun in that. Last turnday I-" and then she frowns suddenly, "-did stuff." Yeah, stuff. But she's quickly continuing, "Figure I still owe ya one," and the lopsided grin is back, "for that time ya helped me clean out the trundlebugs. Still ain't got m' flits trained proper, though," and the girl makes a face, giving the firelizards a look. Rogue is still on her shoulder, but the other four are thankfully just lying around sunning themselves.

A'dar waits until after she's chosen her glass, then picks up the other one, tilting it in a salute before taking a sip of it. His smirk remains as she mentions she did…'stuff' for her turnday. But he doesn't press the issue. If she wants to talk about it, fine. If not, that's fine, too. Cenlia mentions her firelizard, A'dar nods. "It takes some time, particularly if they don't want to listen. In general…just make sure they understand that your will is stronger, and you make the rules. That's mostly all it is. But above all…don't give up."

Cenlia tilts her own glass and then takes a sip, savoring the flavor of the wine. This stuff, she definitely doesn't gulp. She nods about the firelizards, tilting her head to peer at them, and then says wryly, "That one," pointing at brown Trouble, "still steals underpants. Though the last guy's he snatched prolly deserved it." The girl snorts, adding, "Almost ran into a clutch on the beach earlier, an' I had food too. Shards, 'm glad I didn't stay longer. Might've ended up with another one of 'em," and she gives the flits a final look, though they seem entirely unimpressed. She does grin though, turning back to A'dar, "Ain't ever give up. If I did, might find Thea tryin' to ship me home fer that too." And she makes a face.

A'dar smirks. "Mine don't cause much trouble now. Of course…Aloy never really did. Oihana's been a little better behaved lately, though…and I've gotten her to do some things for me, running messages and whatnot." A spark of something flares in his eyes as she mentions Thea, and the smirk abruptly fades, a scowl replacing it for a moment. "…Somehow that doesn't surprise me," he mutters.

"Guess you got an actual use for yours," Cenlia says, shaking her head a bit, "Mine're just…" and Rogue takes this moment to scurry down her arm to try to stick his nose in her wineglass, "…cute." The firelizard doesn't make it though, as Cen pokes him gently in the side with an, "Oy," which only earns a little 'gwerr' out of the flit. And then he's scurrying back to her shoulder to sneak under her runnertail. Cenlia raises an eyebrow when she notices the scowl, giving A'dar a curious look, but her own opinion of the goldrider is fairly mixed. The girl only snorts, muttering, "She's gone all stuffy. Her and everybody else," grumblegrumble. But Cenlia isn't really one to be bitter, adding with a shrug, "Set things straight, though. Got her some cupcakes." And now she's the one smirking. Just a little. And taking another sip of wine.

"I guess Impressing gold will do that to one," A'dar comments. However, he says nothing else about Thea. Whatever problems she has, are her problems. Though despite himself, he gives a bit of a smile as the firelizard skitters back under Cenlia's hair. "That's why I left Xanadu so long ago," he replies. "The place had changed. Everyone that used to be my friend, wasn't anymore. They'd changed…grown. And left me in the dust as I stayed the same…."

Cenlia snorts, nodding in agreement and making a face. But at what A'dar says next, about why he left… all the cheer goes out of Cenlia's expression. The smirk is wiped away by a frown, eyebrows coming together as she looks off to some spot in the distance. "Yeah, seems like," she mutters unhappily, chewing absently on her lower lip. And then she looks sharply back at him, saying quietly, "Not /everybody/, y'know."

"It seemed so," A'dar replied. "But…if you mean yourself…I do appreciate it." He smiles, takes another sip of the wine in his glass. "It was just…hard to cope. So I went to Western. Got mixed up with an archivist there that I very much liked. But I had to leave Western too. He…wasn't happy about it. I came to Ista then…joined up with the Ocean Sapphire wing…." He trails off then, not wanting to relate the situation with the Renegades. He hadn't spoken to anyone about it, not even MindHealers. Only Zeituth knew.

Cenlia snorts, smile returning just a little before she's sipping her own glass of wine. And then the girl shakes er head, "Well, if yer ever in Xanadu and got the time, I got homebrew brandy inna still. Good stuff." Because hey, boozing is /fun/. Mostly. She does raise her eyebrows as he relates moving around, "How come you had to leave Western?" Tact? What tact? It's probably not the wine though, even as she takes another sip and asks hesitantly, "You.. ain't gonna leave here too, are ya?" She noticed the trailing off, yes. But she's not had nearly enough to drink to start prying about that, not yet.

A'dar smirks to the noting of the brandy. "Hmm…I just might take you up on that," he replies honestly. Perhaps not an invitation he'd have taken in the past…but he's no longer that straight-laced boy. However, at the question of why he left Western comes, again the smirk falls from his face, a frown overshadowing it. He answers the question honestly. "I left because L'ton moved to Western." But he doesn't mention exactly what problems he has with the bronzerider.

Cenlia grins at A'dar about the brandy. Though the girl quirks an eyebrow at the mention of the bronzerider. "Who's L'ton?" she furrows her brow, adding on, "Think I met him once.. dun't remember though," she thinks a moment longer, but fails to come up with anything. But the girl has enough tact to at least note the bluerider's change in expression and change the subject, saying with a shrug, "So how come you joined Ocean Sapphire wing - that's search and rescue, right? Thought you'd be building a clocktower over here or something." It's a lame subject change. But at least she tries.

"He's a bronzerider that used to live at Ista," A'dar replies. "…Saige gave birth to his child shortly after her lifemate's second flight." This statement may say all that really needs to be said about the man. If Cenlia knows about his feelings for Saige, that is. A'dar seems grateful for the subject change. However, he shakes his head. "No…the one at Xanadu is enough for Pern. It can be seen for a good distance all around. Besides…I haven't had time. Been keeping busy."

There's a baffled look on Cenlia's face at the reply about L'ton; apparently, she /doesn't/ know about A'dar and Saige. Though, from her expression, it's likely she can guess, brow furrowed a moment before she just lets it drop. Instead, the girl takes another sip of wine, then tilts her head, pondering a few seconds before she says, "'S too bad," about the clocktower, "It's pretty neat. 'M brother's been wanting to look inside forever. Not like he knows anything about clocks." And she grins a bit, "But ain't anything like it anywhere, 's far as I know." Not that Cenlia is very worldly, anyway. "So your weyr here full of clocks?" she asks, likely assuming that's how he's been keeping busy.

A'dar nods to her question. "I brought them all to my weyr here." He points up, to a ledge not too far from here, and a hole in the cliff face there. "It's there." He lets his hand drop, and looks back to her. He smirks a little. "Kire, that StarCrafter apprentice, is looking to have an observatory built in Xanadu," he notes. "So the clock tower won't be a hugely important thing for long. It was borne of sadness and pain, like everything else in my life." He pauses as Zeituth lifts his head and gives a rumble. Looking to the blue, A'dar smirks. "No, Zei…I never said that," he murmurs quietly. Clearly he's letting Cenlia hear it, too. "It's been hard since we met…but I wouldn't go back and change it. It would have happened anyway…and without you, I probably wouldn't have survived it. At least we have each other…."

"Weyr full of clocks," Cenlia grins, "'s pretty neat." She looks up to where he points, but at the mention of Kire, Cenlia raises an eyebrow, "Yeah, think he told me about about that once," but she shrugs, "Eled said there's an observatory in Landing." She pauses a moment, blinking at A'dar, and opening her mouth to say something, but failing to come up with anything. So she takes a last sip of the wine in her glass, reaching for the bottle to refill it. When she sets the bottle back down, though, she doesn't take another sip but instead looks at A'dar. And then at Zeituth. Brows drawing together, she just watches the dragon and rider, eyeing both of them for a while. She /looks/ as if she wants to ask, but at the same time looks a little uncomfortable. What does one say to all that, anyway? Well, Cenlia apparently finds something to say, "Shards A'dar… what's happened to ya?" She asks him straight out, now looking honestly concerned. And more than a little sobered.

A'dar chuckles. It's a mirthless sound, wry and hard-edged. "Like I said…life happened," he replies. He gives a wry smile then, and drains his glass as well. After that, he pauses, and then looks to her again. "Do you want to know all of it?" he inquires. "Everything? I'll tell you if you want. I haven't told anyone else. Not everything, anyway…."

"Life," Cenlia repeats flatly, eyes on A'dar, the girl's brows still drawn together. Drinking and joking aside, Cenlia's drifted apart from enough of her friends to be bothered by it; there's no hesitation at all as she says simply, "Wouldn've asked if I didn't." She puts her own glass down, still regarding the bluerider with a worried frown.

A'dar sighs and puts down his empty glass, thinking how best to begin. "It's a long story, I warn you," he breathes. Then he pauses, and thinks a moment more. "That first flight of Saige's…she thought she might have been pregnant shortly after. I didn't think she was…but we went to check, anyway. She wasn't, thankfully. Shortly before Ulae's second flight, she expressed that she was frightened of flights. Frightened that she had not control over who she'd end up with. I offered her sanctuary in my weyr, but despite that, when Ulae's next flight happened, somehow Saige ended up with L'ton. I refuse to believe she couldn't find her way to my weyr." Here his expression grows hard. "She ended up pregnant with his child. I couldn't bear to think of another of his…brood growing inside her. Inside someone I cared so much about. Never heard from Saige after that. Dhonzayth caught one of the golds and sired Xanadu's next clutch, and I left Xanadu, not wanting to come across him in case he was there sitting with the queen's eggs…HIS queen's eggs."
Here he pauses, and shakes his head. "I went to Western, hoping to escape L'ton…and while I was there, I met an archivist there. Very nice fellow." Here his expression dulls again, and he looks as though he's hurting inside. "A'di was his name. We got along well…and eventually we ended up…staying together. But L'ton came to Western, and became a wingleader. I couldn't bear the thought of possibly meeting him…so I left Western. I tried to keep things together with A'di, but…a long distance relationship didn't work well…and eventually I told him I wasn't coming back to Western. He…didn't take it well. I haven't seen him since."
Another pause, and A'dar's eyes close as he relates the final bit. "I moved to Ista, hoping that there was some reason L'ton had left, that it would keep him away from Ista. I was already hurting…so I wanted work to keep me busy. I asked to join Ocean Sapphire. Not long after I joined, we captured a Renegade boy. Apparently the idea was to pretend to release him, but follow him to the camp. We did…and raided it. Merrick almost killed a Healer…and I had to defend him. I fought Merrick…and Merrick lost. I came away with new scars from the incident. He paid the ultimate price…."

Cenlia listens. She is likely the last person on Pern anyone would think to want listening to their personal woes. She's not the touchey-feely, compassionate type. There's no pity in her expression, and through all of that, there is certainly some bafflement. But she doesn't interrupt. A'dar is her /friend/. And it matters, to her at least, that something, or a lot of things, are bothering him. Though perhaps the gardener girl didn't fully realize the magnitude of what had happened to him when she'd asked. So she remains quiet. There is a blink of surprise as she finally realizes what happened between him and Saige. And sympathy in her expression, at least, about A'di. At some point, Cenlia draws her knees up, crossing her arms over her knees, but still regarding A'dar. At that last part… she goes very very pale. She'd /heard/ there was a raid… but the details have her swallowing and looking groundsward, perhaps more than a bit shocked. She opens her mouth, looking back up at A'dar, but is utterly at a loss for what to say. She can't even offer understanding, not now, not that she's heard the whole thing.

A'dar finally quiets, letting her mull over what he's said. Somehow he feels better for at least having gotten it off his chest…for having told /someone/ anyway, even if Cenlia doesn't at first glance appear to be the best person for the job. At least it's all finally out now. A long moment later, he gives a soft snort of laughter. "Big pile of runner-poo I've gotten myself into, eh?" he finally says, breaking the silence. A chuckle…and then he sighs. "But…that's what I mean. Life happened. The inevitability of life, of things going wrong. The inevitability that everything is going to turn bad and there's nothing anyone can do about it…."

Cenlia is quiet for a moment longer, just looking at A'dar. And then she shakes her head slowly, saying almost in a whisper, "Shards, A'dar, that's.." what? What can she possibly say? Her eyelids lower as she looks somewhere in the middle distance between them, frowning still. She might not like to admit it, but not everything can be solved with booze or a shovel. But then she's looking at him again, muttering in a flat voice, "Life?" Her eyes narrow somewhat, "I'll tell ya what's runner turds… sittin' back an' giving up." She's no mindhealer. She doesn't /have/ to be. "If things go wrong, ya /make/ 'em right again." And it's possible, just possible, she's not actually talking about him, though she looks directly at his face, to meet his eyes if she can, "Even if ya gotta go halfway 'round Pern t' do it. Life ain't worth livin' otherwise, if you don't /try/." No, she definitely isn't talking about him, the vehemence in her voice carrying an edge to it. There is a /reason/ she's in Ista. And a reason that bag she was carrying was half empty already.

A'dar actually gives a smile, however small. If she's found her motivation, that's good. But…he knows there's a time when one simply MUST give up, or bring more suffering onto one. He regards her with that small, almost mysterious smile, meeting her gaze squarely. Then he asks a simple question.

"Are you living?"

She had said that life wasn't worth living if one didn't try. Who said he himself is truly living? If he is, it's only for Zeituth. The blue is his whole life now…his lifemate and his duty in the Ocean Sapphire wing.

Motivation? Beyond booze? Cenlia blinks at the question, but doesn't look away, muttering wryly, "Should hope so. Ain't died yet. Though been drunk enough lately t' wish I were." Cenlia probably meant living literally, and she really doesn't believe in ghosts. She can't read his mind, however, so she doesn't ask about him, instead reaching for the wine bottle and refilling his glass. What she does say is, "Dunno 'bout you, but I think this wine needs drinkin' before it gets warm." She doesn't have a shovel, and while she might offer to show the business end of it to a certain bronzerider, she does have booze here and now. Though.. if she ever actually runs into the bronzer, it's likely she might just go find a shovel, on A'dar's behalf. Cenlia's not the most mature person, no.

A'dar smirks. "…A good idea," he agrees, picking up the refilled glass. "No sense it letting good wine go to waste. Besides…we can both forget our troubles for a while…." That smirk becomes a bit more pronounced as he takes a sip of his refilled glass. This sip is a little bigger than the last, true…but he doesn't gulp. It's good wine, he knows, and it's not meant to be guzzled like tea.

Vintner's Pocketwatch
This is a tiny pocketwatch, small enough to fit in a woman's pocket. The case of the pocketwatch is made of silver metal and engraved with vines and small bunches of grapes along the vines that curve along the outsides. However, at the top where the vines intersect is either an apricot or a peach, it's hard to tell. In the middle of the case is the name "Cenlia". The chain is mostly normal, but there are tiny silver charms worked in the shape of bunches of grapes.
When the watch is opened, it displays a beautiful golden face. Each number is black, an old Terran Roman numeral ("IV" instead of "IIII" for the numeral four) with a single green vine wrapped about it. From each vine hangs an example of a different fruit that can be made into a spirit. The minute and hour hands resemble thin slivers of metal, also with grape vines wrapped about them. The face of the watch bears the words "A toast to your friendship."

Cenlia picks up her own glass to take a sip, and then snorts, "You'll regret it later, if it gets that far," meaning the forgetting their troubles bit. And then she grumbles, "I ain't got troubles, 'least. Just got lots of stupid things I done." And there's a grimace for that as she takes another sip of wine. "So when's your next turnday, anyhow?" And she fishes in a pocket for a moment, producing a small silvery object and smiling a little, "Figure I oughta get you a real gift," and she looks at A'dar and says, "Dunno if I ever got to thank you proper for this," holding up the pocketwatch.

A'dar thinks a moment. Really thinks. Seems he's forgotten, as he furrows his brown trying to remember how long it will be. "Hmm…little more than five months, I think. I'll be…eighteen turns?" He shrugs. "Sounds about right." As she holds up the watch, he actually smiles. "It was a gift to you, for /your/ turnday. Repayment isn't required for gifts."

"Eighteen? Shards, yer gettin' old," she teases a little, taking a sip of wine and then saying thoughtfully, "Guess five months is enough time." For what? Who knows. She does roll her eyes, though, "I know that. And thanks," she smiles, "And for /your/ turnday, 'm gonna get you something decent. Bettern' a set of wine glasses." She opens the watch, lopsided grin on her face as she quotes, "A toast to your friendship," then closes the watch, slipping it back into her pocket and raising a glass. And then she takes a longer sip, before she says more quietly, "Lost enough friends. Don't need t' lose another one." There's a pointed look at A'dar, then. Everybody changes, but apparently the bluerider hasn't changed enough to make her want to give up and go back to Xanadu. Even if she doesn't understand everything that's happened to him, the look on her face is sincere. She stands by her friends.

A'dar nods. "Here, here," he agrees, raising his glass in return as she does, and takes a sip of the wine. A smirk, then, as he considers her mention of a turnday present. "It's hardly worth marking now…at least, mine is," he notes. "It just reminds me of the wasted time…of the growing lateness of the turns as they pass." His smile becomes more muted, but does not fade. "Again…here, here. We've both lost enough in our lives, I think…people included…."

Cenlia snorts, suggesting with a crooked smile, "Then stop wasting time?" The girl is practical, if nothing else, taking another sip of wine and then nodding. She does mutter, however, "Here here," at that last part, and takes another sip of wine.

A'dar smiles, and sits in companionable silence with Cenlia for a while longer, sipping at the wine occasionally. "…It's been a while since I've not felt like I was wasting time just existing," he admits. He's beginning to get a little more relaxed, and it's visible not only in his demeanor, but in Zeituth's — the blue's eyes move more towards something resembling happy.

Cenlia is happy to sit around sipping wine any day, especially when it's Benden Red. She raises an eyebrow at A'dar's words, tilting her head to ask, "Why not go do something, then? Ain't like you can't do stuff," and wrinkles her nose, the wine having an effect on her as well as she suddenly grins a bit, suggesting, "Should plant a garden." Hey, it involves shovels. She thinks a moment, and then tacks on, "Or go party. 'S what B'miel always does. Gets good and drunk, too. 'Cept lately.." and she frowns, shaking her head and then shrugging, "Can't waste time when yer doin' something, can ya?"

"You're right…though I'm afraid I have no ability to grow things," A'dar replies. "Plants die in my presence." He chuckles. Perhaps he's a little tipsy, too. "Bah…should get back into making clocks. I haven't built one in a while…." Sighing, he takes another sip of his wine. "Too much going on, haven't had any inspiration, and haven't felt much like doing anything tedious like that…."

Cenlia grins lopsidedly, "Ista's got a garden don't it? Could just help out. Shards, almost wish I was stayin' here. This place reminds me of South Boll," and she looks around, "Same sorta climate, bet I could grow the same things. No snow here." But the Xanadu gardener sighs, sipping more wine and then nodding, "Should make a clock, then." She ponders for a while, finally asking curiously, "What /have/ ya been doing?" Besides the battling renegades, apparently.

"Too hot here," A'dar replies. "I'm still not used to the climate, myself. But it's worth it in the end…." He sighs. "Other than the Ocean Sapphire drills? Not much. But it's been keeping me busy." Pause. "Oh yes. Be careful. Veski and his Renegades escaped from the prison cells. Killed a lot of people in the process. He's on the loose now." The almost conversational way he says this is…almost humorous….

"'S why ya got the beach," Cenlia replies about it being too hot. She raises an eyebrow about the drills, but says wryly, "Think ya need a hobby." When he starts talking about renegades, though, she pales a bit, "Heard 'bout that…" and yet she still came to Ista, "How'd they escape?" And if she looks around just then, it could be because of anything, really.

"Quite true…may try going swimming again sometime," A'dar replies softly, almost more to himself. Zeituth seems to perk up at hearing this. Swimming! They haven't been in a while, and the blue misses it. A'dar offers a smile, not seeming too concerned about the possibility of Renegades running around. "I don't know myself," he answers. "I know they ended up killing a bunch of guards on the way out, though. Too bad I wasn't down there…might have made a difference…."

"Wish I could swim," Cenlia mumbles, making a face, "X'hil was gonna teach me, but it'll prolly be a hundred turns before that happens." She does notice the blue dragon though, grinning and saying, "Should go swimming though." And nodding. But she wrinkles her nose again about the guards, muttering, "Shards, that's awful," and then looking at A'dar, "Might've. Whole thing sounds sharding awful t' me." She frowns a bit to herself, and then sips more wine.

"You should come to Ista more often…" A'dar notes. "Perhaps Zei and I could teach you." If the blue was a canine, he'd be wagging his tail right about then. Having an excuse to get A'dar in the water would increase the chances that he'd actually go. A'dar smirks a little. "I have a feeling it would just have ended in me getting killed, though, if I'd been there…many of those guards were better men than I…and they still died. Most never saw it coming…."

Cenlia takes a sip of wine, nodding and saying, "Will be. 'Round Ista I mean." And then she grins, "You teach me to swim, an' I'll show ya how t' grow stuff." And then there's the slightest pause, "So long as there ain't no runners anywhere." And she makes a face. Another sip of wine, and then the gardener girl snorts, saying flatly, "Then 'm glad ya weren't down there." And she might shudder, just a little, though it's hard for her to remain nervous with alcohol nearby. She reaches for the bottle and tops up her glass, setting it down again and taking another sip of wine.

A'dar chuckles. "Might be worth it, if you wear something tiny and flattering when you swim," he comments. Faranth, he's really changed…before he Impressed, he wouldn't be caught dead saying something like that. He wouldn't have even known what it meant! He too takes a sip of his wine, and as she tops off her glass and sets the bottle down, inquires, "May I?" Should she seem all right with the idea, he'll top off his glass as well.

Cenlia blinks at A'dar, obviously not having expected to hear anything like that from /him/. Changed indeed! Though the gardener girl smirks just a bit, "You ain't ever seen me on the beach, have ya?" And then waving a hand vaguely at the bottle, she mutters, "Yea, sure." She does roll her eyes a bit, though, taking another sip of wine. Yep, she's blaming the alcohol. Faranth knows, she's heard worse things from people she's been drinking with. "Might wanna go easy on the wine," she does add finally, after a moment, though her eyes go up to where he pointed to his weyr earlier, the girl saying, "Unless you can get back home by foot, 'cause there's no way you should be flyin' drunk." And she might, just suddenly, look inexplicably guilty for some reason.

A'dar gives a wink to Cenlia's surprised blink. Though as she mentions flying drunk, he shakes his head. "I've done it before," he notes. His voice isn't slurring, so maybe he's not drunk after all. Hard to tell, what with how he's changed. "Kire and I got drunk at Xanadu and I managed to get back to my weyr. Though…I think that was when I Was still living there…so perhaps I walked. I honestly don't remember."

Cenlia rolls her eyes again, just shaking her head at A'dar. She does re-stopper the wine bottle, at least, before she snorts and says, "Every time S'tan gets drunk, him and Gonth go flyin' round drunk. An' eventually, Gonth gets tired of him and dunks him in the lake." Smirk. "You and Kire? Sounds like fun," she smirks again, although the girl then just snickers, "At least ya didn't wake up somewhere with no clothes on? Tends t' happen around Xanadu when riders get drunk." Although, admittedly, this is as much due to Cenlia as the booze.

A'dar shakes his head. "No…he and I parted company," he replies. "Besides, last I heard, he had two lovers…and both were female. I doubt he's interested." He gives a smirk. "Smart dragon. Though he might drown one of these days if Gonth isn't careful…just warn him to dunk S'tan in the shallow end…." A sigh. "I should get back…I need to get some real rest. It's been a while since I've slept properly…." Pause, and he stands, then looks to her. "Cenlia…thank you," he says, softly. "I'm glad I got to see you again…."

Cenlia's brows go up at the news about Kire, though she doesn't comment. About S'tan, she grins, "He's always got his brother 't come pull him outta the water." She nods, though, draining her glass and putting both it the wine bottle back in the bag. And then she holds the bag out to A'dar, smiling at him and saying, "Wine'll help with sleep, at least," and then adding, "Next time, I'll bring brandycakes. I'll see you around, A'dar," and then she's turning to leave, flits in tow.

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