Catching Up With Weyrlings

Igen Weyr - Lake Shore
It is sometimes hard to tell where the bowl ends and the lake shore begins. Fine grains of gold, tan and orange hued sand layer much as the bowl walls in the distance beyond. The sand only gives way to thin patches of grass where the tall fence of the feeding grounds intersects the lake to the south and the smooth curve of the bowl wall rises on the opposite shore. At that intersection one can make out a small building and colorful fabrics where the Weyr's residents go to relax. The shallow lake waters shimmer invitingly, day and night, lapping at the fine grain sands. Engineered pipes are hidden beneath the bowl landscape and feed the lake as well as the grasses of the feeding grounds to keep the water levels from dropping past a certain point which is marked by a waist high obelisk.

It's been an exhausting few months — a haze of waking, eating, feeding, cleaning — interspersed with the occasional lesson that may or may not be sinking into the tired weyrling's brain. Today, it's been mostly about bathing and oiling — to judge by the grouping of well-oiled weyrling dragons that sleep on the lake shore in the heated afternoon air. One such, however, is not asleep — Jizunoth's head is lifted, watching with half-lidded eyes as his lifemate jogs around the lake. He's got an even pace, something he's used to enough that Z'ki's on autopilot. If it's some form of punishment, there's nary a Weyrlingmaster in sight to enforce it.

Risali knows all about those Look-At-Me-Hate-Myself-Willingly woes; it comes with the territory of having a dragon that seems to think you're an unstoppable badass (though, let's be honest, Risali is a force of nature in her own way), and that massive queen is appearing from between now without regard to who she hits when she broadcasts bass and drum with ecstatic enthusiasm. BadumbadumBADUMBADUM. « WAHEEEEEEEEY! » It's that throbthrobthrob of your neighbor having the volume up too loud - loud enough to rattle the windows and be heard despite retreating to the opposite-most room in your dwelling. She banks, those enormous sails catching the heat of wind as it pushes her up and resists her body's aerodynamicist build until slightly gnarled talons are extending for a landing and the gold finds her way onto the beach with a half-stumble, catch of her bulk that kicks up too much sand and definitely rattles Risali. "It… was better," the goldrider breathes from up high, grey eyes sweeping the sands of the beach and - surprise - she doesn't have to go hunting for Z'ki today because there he is. Risali's making her way down her lifemate, stripping herself free of riding jacket, and gloves; she presses goggles into her helmet and pushes them all into a pouch strapped to Leirith's straps, and then she's tying up her hair as she takes off in a jog down the beach. So maybe she pushes for more than just a jog, but it's only so that she can keep up; and she does catch up to Z'ki, coming up alongside him with a brilliant little smile and a huff of air that sounds suspiciously like, "Having fun?" Except Risali's not exactly acclimated to Igen's climate, so her body is certainly not as fine tuned in the desert heat. "Faranth, how can you breathe?"

The weyrling dragons are most definitely asleep, since there's no assailing of the newly arrived gold, along with a throng of questions. Except that there is something from one of the motion-less weyrlings — an equally loud, authoritative, « Shhhhhhhhh. » The culprit remains motionless, however. Z'ki, meanwhile, continues running a few more steps before Risali's presence alongside him registers enough that he slows. The normally observant guard frowns, before slowing to a walk in deference to her presence. "Ma'am," he says, by way of greeting, even throwing a sharp salute in there for good measure. The word is just as much a query as it is a greeting, hands on his hips as he seems to consider her presence.

AHAHAHA! Tiny tot dragon, did you really think you could authoritatively shush this queen? She is undaunted, she is unperturbed, she will not be silenced as she races after that equally loud shushing in her mind and projects a no-less-quiet, « MINION! WE HAVE OURSELVES A BADASS OVER HERE! » It's a compliment, really, one that comes with the sugary-high hints of spun sugar and funnel cake - like maybe there's depth somewhere in all of that too-loud bass and drums that's effervescent and sunbright, that's eager to meet this dragon who dares to shush her because the world doesn't have enough bravery and devilishly clever commanders in it. « And if I do not shhhhhhh. What will you do? Will you eat me? » She's laughing, but it's not mocking. It's enthusiastic; she wants to know the answer to this very important question, and there's no an ounce of offense to be found in the trendils of mind that she bestows. Unlike Risali, who is definitely looking offended by that salute, and punches Z'ki in the arm for even daring to attempt it with her. "No. Do you see a knot, Z'ki? There's no knot. There's no knot for a reason and it's because I don't want to be saluted, and I don't want to hear, 'Weyrwoman!', and I don't want people to pretend like they're nice and chummy just because I'm a queenrider. Stop it." Grey eyes are definitely narrowed, and when Z'ki slows, she slows to match his pace until they're both walking and she's swallowing down air. "Oh, thank Faranth. I was pretty sure I was going to die." A beat, and then she's tilting her head to look up that the weyrling alongside her as brows raise in a question that's voiced seconds later (hushed, serious): "Are you okay, sir? How are you taking to it? I know it can be a lot."

A sense of dismissiveness comes from the owner of that shhhing voice. He's no minion, and she's far too noisy for his liking, and it's definitely time to let not-sleeping queens lie. Z'ki gives a grunt in response to that punch, muscles tensed — not with the intention of returning the gesture, so much as stopping himself from doing so by habit. There's a press of lips, as he says, "As I recall, you were a weyrling once yourself, ma'am. Surely you had the same lectures as we have had about saluting — unless you really are of a mind to get me in trouble?" He lifts a brow in inquiry, slowing and stopping now. He glances left, across the lake to where the weyrling dragons are purportedly sleeping, then back. His brow furrows at the latter, hesitation obvious. "It's fine, ma'am. Lovely." It's a rote answer, indeed, but well-practiced enough to suggest it's one he's trotted out more than once over the last few months.

SUCH DISMISSIVENESS! Any other dragon might take offense and bristle at the owner of that dismissive sense of being, but not Leirith; the not-so-little queen merely responds with a sense of overwhelming joy. She's vivacious, she does not cower despite the fact that her presence is disliked, and she finds humor in all of that authority and displeasure. « Minion. This one is so badass that it does not even deign to speak with me. » And yes, she's laughing again without a hint of cruelty or mockery - perhaps a heightened sense of curiosity. Minion, for the record, is Risali, who is probably responding mentally to Leirith or just ignoring the queen outright (because Leirith has no daunts). "I was," Risali responds slowly, ceasing the attempt to keep up with a stride much larger than her own as Z'ki comes to a halt and her own hands find her hips. Risali tilts her head to look up at Z'ki, chest laboring in an effort to restore oxygen to starving cells, and finally she speaks again. "And the bubbly wasn't enough of a clue?" About how much trouble she wants him in, she means. Risali's teasing of course; she doesn't actually want to get him in trouble, which is why she's probably amending with a muted smile and, "We're not in a formal setting, Z'ki. I'm not even wearing my knot." Shoulder-bump. "For a reason." A beat, as she stares at the guard for his generic answer to her question, and then Risali breathes out an even softer, "Okay, Z'ki. Do you want to talk about it?"

Just because he's not talking, doesn't mean the dragon isn't listening. Perhaps it's some sort of strategic retreat or something, since, after a few moment's silence, the masculine voice returns, echoing hers at an equal level of volume: « IF YOU WAKE THE OTHERS, THEY ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. » Running a hand over hair — barely longer than it usually is despite not currently being a guard — Z'ki takes a moment to wipe sweat from his brow, stepping over towards the lake's edge and bending to splash some water on his face. "I don't think the distinctions would matter to the Weyrlingmaster, ma'am." Z'ki persists, as stubborn as ever! There's more splashing of water, before he stands, shaking out his hands and letting them and his face begin to dry in the hot Igen weather. "No. Yes. Not yet," comes the final response, the abrupt changing of his mind unusual for the guard, but then — he's different now. He's no longer Zevuki. He glances at her again, face granite for a moment, before he sharply waves towards a bench set out in some shade for just such a purpose, with a good view of the lake, walking slowly in that direction. "He's not at all what I expected," he admits, as he walks, saying it quietly.

« WAHEEEEY! If I wake the other fierce little badasses, THEN WE WILL PLAY A GAME! » So much for that strategic retreat and possibly an effort to give the gold dragon some humility. It's not that Leirith's trying to be annoying, she is just full of life; she is sun-bright, and cheerful to a fault, finding the good in everything and creating humor sometimes even when it is not the correct response to any given situation. She even laughs at herself. « Do you not like to play? How will you show the herdbeasts that you are fierce if you do not practice? If you come, I will let you hide under my wing, and I will share the places I have been - and you will go - with you! » That's a good offer, right? She's even lifting up a wingsail in invitation. Badumbadumbadum. It's a sound that mimics the beat of Risali's heart against her ribs as she catches her breath and watches Z'ki when he speaks, when he moves, when he splashes his face with water and then waffles uncharacteristically on a response. "It's okay. When we're in a formal setting, you can salute me all you want, sir. I'll even salute you back and give you my dirtiest look if you forget." That's a compromise, right? Said around a crooked smile that falters as grey eyes glance towards the motioned bench and Risali moves in tandem with the weyrling towards it. The goldrider is silent while Z'ki speaks, attentive to his words despite the fact that he says so few as if she's trying to hear more than what he's saying; as if she might find some hidden meaning between the proverbial lines that he doesn't want to say. She can't, of course, but she tries. "I… didn't expect Leirith to be… Leirith, either." A hushed, short-lived laugh, a beat as grey eyes jump to the guard's face and she continues on quiet tones with, "But this isn't about me. What were you expecting?"

« I don't need to hide! » Indignation, despite the fact that he's kind of actually doing that right now. « And I don't play. I'm not a child! » Spoken like every child ever, except with a hint of bite and back off threaded within it. Z'ki goes silent, then grimaces. "What is she saying to him?" is asked of Risali, and while he's making an effort, there might be a hint of accusation that he tries to hide. It's hard not to be naturally overprotective. He doesn't sit, or at least, maybe he's waiting for her to sit before he does, instead standing next to the bench, hands clasped behind his back. "I don't think I was expecting any of this," the former guard finally admits. "Mostly I… I think I never realized how strong a personality they have of themselves. He's… sometimes he's harder on me than any Captain I ever had. And other times, he's just…" his expression changes — briefly something soft and fond and familiar to any rider — before it shifts back into his typical, carefully neutral expression.

« Of course you do not! You are a badass! » Leirith responds, laughing when he says that he is not a child with so much indignation. She doesn't cower from the bite; the gold doesn't even back off; she simply beats back with her own effervescence and unyielding temperament. « And you are never too old or too young for play. I chase Garouth through the forests and on the beach. Zekath runs with me through the meadows and jumps with me from the cliffs. » Badumboom, badumboom. « MINION! THIS ONE DOES NOT PLAY! I FEAR IT IS BROKEN. » It's hard to tell what causes Risali to wince: Z'ki's accusation-laced question, or Leirith's blatant disregard for manners (even if there's nothing malicious nor disposed to cruelty in the manner the queen speaks. The world has faults. She has faults. It's what makes everything so… interesting. "He's not sharing with you what she says?" Risali asks, genuinely curious - and perhaps a little surprised, given that Risali is privy to every conversation Leirith has because the queen clearly hates her. "Ah - she's… inviting him to play, and offering to share her images of the weyrs with him. When she was newly hatched, she was blind. Garouth would let her sit under his wing, and he would share his eyesight with her. I don't think she remembers - well, now she does - but I think there's a lingering sense of…" An exhale. "…comfort in it. Comfort that she wants to share. Beauty that she wants to share." Risali's not sure if it makes sense; she never was good with words, and her brows furrow as they reach the bench and she settles to one side of it. She's tiny, so it leaves plenty of room for Z'ki to settle without having to fear her encroaching on his space, especially when she pulls booted feet up before her, curls thighs to her chest, wraps arms around her legs, and rests her chin on top of her knees. But it's her turn to listen, and she does, with grey eyes fixed on the water and shifting back to the weyrling's face when he's finished sharing. There's another soft smile, because she gets it, and a moment before Risali responds with a soft, "They are very much alive." A soft laugh that's gone as quickly as it's come. "But I bet you wouldn't go back to having all that quiet in your head again, would you?" Because she sure as shells wouldn't.

There's a huff of a response; hard to tell if it's pleased with being termed a 'badass' or not. Maybe so, given the voice continues, blandly — almost like Z'ki when he's trying hard to keep a neutral response — « The dragons you frolic with are clearly unworthy. » Not that he knows who they are, but Igen dragons are better, by default. "Just that she is… loud," one could suspect he's censoring the words, "And is trying to make him play." There's a twitch of lips, if brief, as he considers her words. Only once Risali settles on the bench does he follow suit, slowly, hand passing over his forehead again. "It's hard for me to remember what it was like before," he admits, slowly. "It's strange how quickly it being so different feels so… normal."

SHOTS FIRED! But Leirith still does not bristle; the queen examines the bland delivery of those words and she meets it with more of that draconic laughter - some of which manifests as a gaping maw as the queen tilts her head to the side and air escapes her in quick bursts. Dragons can't laugh, but she mimics it well enough. « They are great hunters, and they are badass. Not all of the dragons are badass - some are bullies, and some should be protected. » A beat, and a sly hint to her tone as Leirith asks, « And are you worthy? How can you be worthy if you do not practice how to hunt? » More amusement - she's never in short supply of that. Risali? She… ducks her mouth into her knees for a moment as she settles on a facial expression, and lifts her head with a hint of laughter tugging at the corners of her lips. "Loud is… one way to describe her. She's very… bubbly." « Minion! You disappoint me. » "And a badass," Risali offers on a dry tone. « Better. > But nevermind the dragons; Risali's attention is back on Z'ki as he makes admittances that leave the goldrider shifting on the bench and looking out towards her own lifemate. "I remember that it was lonely, even if I didn't realize it at the time." A breath, and those grey eyes close as if Risali is allowing herself to remember those first few days, weeks, months of being a weyrling. "But I think the worst part was the sleep deprivation." A faint smile, and those eyes blink open again. "I'm glad you found him. Or maybe he found you." Or maybe they found each other.

There's a veritable hrmph of a response. « I am Igen born and bred, » comes the haughty reply, like that ought to be evidence enough. Certainly he doesn't offer any floral words in support — seeming to consider that that's sufficient. There's a perhaps surprising tug at the corner of Z'ki's lips — not so much in response to her words as the exchange he observes between rider and dragon. "Jizunoth says he is a bigger badass, but he'll wait until Leirith realizes it, because she's sure to, one day." There's an amused fondness to the words, a softer side that is unusual for the usually stern once-guard. "Yes, that's been… difficult," he admits, reluctantly. The latter comment earns a smile, genuine, but goes unremarked on, possibly because he's in agreement but he isn't sure which it is, either. There's movement over by the lake — the other weyrling dragons are waking up, and weyrlings are appearing, one by one, along with the Weyrlingmaster. A fleeting grimace passes across Z'ki's expression, before he rises. "I should…" with a gesture towards the lake.

And Leirith? She meets Jizunoth's haughtiness with more of that sun-bright laughter - and an agreement. « So you are! » Risali? She relays Z'ki's words to Leirith, or Leirith simply hears them because of that curious connection dragons share with their lifemates. Either way, Risali is offering an equally amused (and fond), "Leirith assures him that he'll never be bigger." SHE MADE A FUNNY. Because she's a queen, get it? And she's on the larger side of the gold spectrum, even. She is not built pretty, nor dainty. She's mustard yellow with imperfect headknobs that sit at drastically opposite angles. She is construction equipment, and huge. Still, aside from her own smile, Risali doesn't comment on how difficult that lack of sleep may be. She doesn't have to. Times for lessons begin with a stir in baby dragons, and Risali dips her head as she brings up her hand to salute Z'ki with a cheeky smile. "Goodluck, sir. Xanadu's duties." Totally teasing him. And then she's pushing to her own feet, moving towards Leirith who seems for the first time disappointed. WHAT DO YOU MEAN SHE CAN'T STAY AND WATCH? OBJECTION! But Risali is donning her riding gear, climbing Leirith, and they make that daunting jump back between.

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