Xanadu Weyr - Secret Garden Refuge

How has this gem stood empty so long? Constructed of hand-chiseled whitestone, this cottage is unique in that it appears to have been here from before the time Xanadu was founded, its stones bearing a resemblance to the ruins in the old forest. Large windows, flanked by raw wooden shutters faded to a silvery-grey, have thick-leaded diamond panes that allow the meadow's light inside. Pink climbing roses scale the front wall, the porcelain blossoms scenting the air with their delicate fragrance and providing shade over the three shallow stone steps leading to a portico in which an arch-topped door is set.

The space within the cottage - sitting room, kitchenette, sleeping and bathing room - is simple: stone floors are covered in vast rugs in pale, pastel shades and the walls have been painted white. Some spaces have built-in storage: cupboards in the sitting room; counters and a cooling/heating unit for food in the kitchenette. The sitting room has a double-wide, deeply-inset window that make the sunny room perfect for housing potted plants, Isyriath's portion opening off of one side. Comfortable couches in pale pink line two of the walls, standing opposite each other, a long, low table set between them in the centre of the room. On the wall, above one of the couches, hangs a painting of meadow, in which both the cottage and Marel herself feature, the picture signed with a capital M. To the rear of the cottage, the bedroom has French doors that open onto a private retreat formed by a three-walled, flag-stoned courtyard of the same material that makes up the cottage walls. In the centre lies a flower garden, neat rows of tulips and rose bushes planted in fresh soil, a non-functional stone fountain serving as decoration alone, for now.

It's been a whirlwind month since Seryth's flight changed the leadership at Xanadu Weyr. While fairly smooth on the surface of things, the transition has not been without its…we'll call them challenges. All of the administration wing - any of Nova and Quasar wing who were in the back corridor likely heard the angry tones coming from the Weyrleader's office at the end of the first staff meeting and there's an undercurrent of brooding tension amongst some of them since the second day. The Weyrwoman's focus has been on helping Ka'el learn the ropes of Weyr and wing management, attending meetings with the wingleaders, patiently answering his questions as he's asked in addition to doing her own work. She's had the list of wingriders on administrative duty, has known Marel is on it but not why; she's assumed with the wing rotation, that's how it's working for Quasar. She gets a daily infirmary report with the basics of illnesses and injuries, but in the interest of client-healer confidentiality, no names. So as yet, Thea isn't aware of the wound that has kept Marel from the skies. Her forays into the other parts of the administration wing have not found her encountering her daughter and oddly, Marel hasn't poked her head into her mother's office either. Today, with things finally easing up a little, Thea has time to make her way to the garden cottage in search of her elusive daughter and so knocks upon the door briskly as evening approaches.

Marel's journey to the door is a slow one, pain worse in the evenings as the weariness of the day drags on and the will to ignore it diminishes throughout the morning and afternoon's work, leaving the brownrider pale and shadow-eyed by the time that her duties have been completed, even if she's more often than not granted the grace to complete her paperwork at home. She looks presentable, her hair tied up in a knot that leaves only a few wispy curls free around her face, yet she doesn't seem ready for company all the same, a heaviness there that keeps the light from her eyes, and she must be expecting that knock at the door to be from someone not her mother, since when she opens it a mere foot, she's already promising, "It's done and I'll have it in the right tray by—" But wait, that's her mother, not a wingmate. Somehow, she manages to pale even further and steps back, inadvertently letting the door swing open as she leans her weight all the more against the crutch she's using to support herself.

The smile waiting to greet Marel fades to blank confusion as Thea stares, the words of apology for taking so long to visit, of greeting, of love all stick in her throat as her ice green eyes take in the wan appearance, the crutch, the lackluster light of eyes so like her own. Both ankles, what she can see under that skirt hem, look fine as do the feet. An inarticulate sound rises in her throat, choked back because she knows, oh how she knows that this independent daughter of hers does not like fusses being made over her. So she draws a steadying breath and instead of launching into a demand to know what happened, returns her attention to Marel's paled face and manages a fairly steady, "May I come in?" Oh, the question is still there, the wanting to know what and she will ask if not told. But not right this moment, standing outside where any passersby can overhear.

Though Marel is hardly about to slam the door in Thea's face, it's clear enough that the desire to avoid potential questioning is something instinctive that she has to swallow down and push aside, as she stays right where she is, barring the door, for longer than she usually might. Finally, she gives a single nod and takes an awkward half-step back, trying to turn at the same time, which is evidently something that she still hasn't quite got the hang of, because, as she tries to turn, she staggers to the side in an inelegant fashion that throws her weight through her injured leg. Pain, exhaustion or just the sheer indignity of the whole thing is enough for her to let out a strangled, frustrated cry and a rare curse as she tries to convince her balance to return.

And Thea waits, her desire to question held firmly in check, though a subtle tension surely leaks through as she watches the internal struggle to deny her entrance. If she were barred? She would go, but the damage resulting to both would likely take turns to mend. Marel falters and Thea's steps take her to her daughter's side without hesitation. "Let me help," she says firmly, with a calm she's far from feeling as with one arm there's an attempt to curl about her shoulders offering steadying support while with a backwards push of the other hand, she shuts the door from prying eyes. She will remain still until Marel has her balance, but reluctant to remove her arm, offering with a gentle hug both mother's comfort and unspoken acceptance for whatever the need that led to this retreat from her - the Weyr - or the world. She still doesn't ask, not yet. She just murmurs, "I am here." It's an offer and a promise both.

There's a sound from Marel that might be a sob or might just be another inarticulate exclamation of the bitterness felt at her body's betrayal, but she doesn't push her mother away, nor does she try to stand and regain her balance entirely under her own steam, accepting the support offered whether it's entirely a matter of needing to or not. Given that it's a month on and Marel is in this state, perhaps things are getting worse and not better, her determination that everything is and will be okay one that is blinding her to the reality of the situation; a reality that now must be battering at her better sense to be heard. It could be that it hits her then or she's just that tired and that relieved that Thea's there, for she just bursts into tears, trying to hide her face in against Thea's shoulder.

Thea's arm more firmly encircles Marel and she shifts to more fully support her weight while her other arm joins the effort to comfort, settling her daughters head against a willing shoulder to absorb those tears. She'll remain like this as long as Marel needs her to, just letting the storm of frustrated tears continue until spent while her fingers tenderly stroke dark hair. In between periods of silence, she murmurs those words she'd meant to say upon greeting, how she's missed her, apologies for not coming sooner, of her love, how proud she is of her. Still unasked just yet of what has happened to that leg (because it's fairly clear the rest of her is working), she does finally say, "You're all grown up and too big for me to sweep you up in my arms and carry you off to tend it for you, but I can help you to the couch at least?"

Finally, Marel lifts her hands to paw at her eyes and try to eliminate the signs of her tears, though all she succeeds in doing is making her eyes and tear-tracks even more red than they were only moments ago, but at least she succeeds in swiping away most of the tears themselves. The tendrils of hair free from the knot are already beginning to turn frizzy and make her look even more of a state, yet she's not so concerned about putting that much of her appearance to rights and leaves them be, giving another nod at Thea's suggestion to reach the couch. Carefully, she shifts her weight, securing her grip on the crutch so that she doesn't throw her whole weight too far one way or lean too heavily against her mother, the short journey to the couch achieved without incident. "I'm okay," she murmurs, though it's a weak assurance.

Thea keeps her arm around Marel for the trip to the couch, hands carefully steadying her as she lowers herself to sit. To the assurance of Marel's that she is fine, her mother's lips twitch. Sure she is! Wisely though, she doesn't argue but her silence isn't an agreement either. Her hand slips into her skirt pocket and withdraws a clean and folded handkerchief, offered over silently. She has not taken a seat yet and the reason is clear when she says quietly, "I'll make some tea." And she heads to that kitchenette, giving Marel some time to dry those tears, hunting and finding the things she needs to do just that. Presently she is back with sweetener and two steaming mugs, one of which is offered over handle-towards and scented with whatever herbs her child keeps for brewing. Thea settles beside her daughter however she can - if the hurt leg is stretched out on the couch, she will sink to curl her legs under her skirt and sit cross-legged on the rug beside her. If not, then a half-arm's length away on the same couch. Either way, she turns to face Marel, her mug simply held wrapped in fingers rather than sipped from. "When?" is the question asked quietly when it comes. When, not what. How long has she been hurt and not said? The expression in Thea's eyes is one of concern and not accusation.

Marel wordlessly accepts the handkerchief and is sitting there quite as if nothing is wrong at all by the time Thea returns, her perch on the edge of the couch seemingly absolutely normal, save for the skew of her hips to ensure that her weight rests on her good leg. The tea is accepted with a murmur of thanks and settled in her lap next to the handkerchief, both hands kept around the mug despite how hot it may be getting by now. "…The night Seryth rose," she confesses, staring down at her knees. Maybe she'd say no more then, but the tension strung across her shoulders suggests that she can't possibly bear to go through questioning and that, now that she's started, she's going to get on with the rest of the sequence of events. "Nobody hurt me. I did it to myself," she states, before she's got to what it is, hoping to keep her mother from jumping to the same conclusion as Ka'el did. "…Isyriath went after her," is little above a whisper, "and he wouldn't stop and he wouldn't listen and… and I was scared and I didn't know what to do and didn't want any stupid rumours to follow us for the rest of our lives and I was scared," if she hasn't said that already, "and so I stuck a knife in my leg and he stopped." Yes, that does all come out in a babbling, no pause for breath style.

On the corner of that handkerchief the letter D is embroidered. Save for the tightening of fingers upon the mug that she holds as Marel's words pour forth, there is no visible reaction from Thea. No outburst, no anger, no judgment. 'Self-inflicted stab wound to thigh' and 'brownrider' had been only one of many entries from that tumultuous night, read by a still pained, dazed, shaken and preoccupied Weyrwoman the second morning after that flight. She should have thought, should have known, with two of the brownriders in the Weyr being hers…should have checked and didn't think to. A month. And she's still barely walking! So many things skitter though her mind, words press to be said but she keeps an iron grip while she forces herself to breathe, coaxes her fingers to loosen the death-grip on her mug. "Oh Marel," she says finally, the two words as full of concern as the child has ever or will likely ever hear them coming from her mother. She takes another breath, her expression pained, "People talk. They will always talk. If they have nothing truthful to spread, they'll make things up. I don't care about rumors. I care about you." And of course, her lifemate. Dark brows knit, "How is it between Isyriath and yourself?" Ice green eyes flick to the space where the brown would lie.

"And I didn't want people saying awful things about you!" Marel blurts out, a twitch of tension released there that sends her tea bobbing about in its mug. "…And I didn't want to be Weyrleader. And I didn't want," yes, again, "there to be any chance of him catching her and me being anywhere near you. I put the bookcase in-front of the door and he wouldn't listen and he was taking over me and — " At the threat of further babbling, she tries to compose herself, fingers tightening around the mug. "…I didn't think I had a choice. It made sense at the time." Only now, with her leg feeling more and more like a dead weight, it doesn't seem so much like the good idea that it felt at the time. As for Isyriath, he isn't there. He isn't there much these days. "We don't… We don't talk much anymore. He thinks he did this and I tell him he didn't, but — " But there's a part of her that does blame him, clearly. "I could walk better than this after it happened," she murmurs, voice growing hoarse, "but the pain's getting worse and I… don't know what to do." And yet she's not unintelligent; she must know what to do, but is too afraid or too proud to go to back to the infirmary again.

Silence follows Marel's outburst though one hand detaches from her mug to reach across the space between them to rest on the shoulder nearest unless she twists it away to avoid the touch, fingers wordlessly squeeze. Thea's eyes are troubled, but the words she speaks are understanding ones, firmly supportive, "Of course you didn't want any of those things." Her even-sounding tone turns wry, as she adds, "For what it's worth, you would make a fine Weyrleader, but the job sucks. Ask Ka'el how much." Her lips twist ruefully, then her hand leaves Marel's shoulder. Gentle fingers seek to lift her chin so their eyes can meet, "I'm holdbred. Trust me when I say I can certainly understand the sort of desperation that led to the knife. This isn't the way, though. We'll find a solution - together, okay? Maybe Jethaniel can install some sort of fancy electric lock that you can trigger with the push of a button to a device you wear." She'll certainly suggest it to him! "Isyriath-" she lets out a breath. "will heal as you do." Both physically and emotionally when the fear of what might happen is no longer there. Her lips press to keep the tumble of words from spilling over about her leg. Firmly, "You have to be seen. Otherwise you'll lose it - or worse."

Marel's complexion blanches from pale to downright grey at Thea's declaration about her leg, and for an awful moment it looks like she might throw up there and then, trembling hands no longer able to support the mug from which she hasn't even sipped yet. She just about manages to set her tea down on the low table without disaster, before fingers go twisting into that handkerchief in a desperate effort to stop that trembling. Her first attempt to speak is a failure that instead brings forth a shudder that runs through her whole body, words dying before they reach her lips, but her second is at least partially successful, in that she finds a single word, uttered weakly. "…Okay." That's to the first, to the together bit, but she has to press on before she loses the will to and the urge to retch gets the better of her. "…Can you help me to the infirmary, Mama?"

How many times has Thea had to insist her twins swallow unpleasant medicine that will help them? Enough that she's developed the strength of mind and stomach to remain firm and not waver in the declaration. She nods gravely. "Of course I will but you're not going to make it there easily. I'm sending for your brother." Her own fear has, for the duration of this visit, been kept firmly under tight control. But back in the forest clearing, Seryth's eyes glow yellow as her rider avails herself of her strength. The queen's serene rivers wend through Thea's mind - and have throughout this visit. Now though, Seryth's mind reaches towards another.

Kalsuoth and Isyriath sense that Seryth speaks, the breath of summer laden with moisture-promising rain to Kalsuoth, « The Weyrwoman requests your presence at Marel's cottage. Compel your rider to accompany you. » Sharing with Isyriath, her mindvoice shimmers with the heatlightning of a summer night, « I come. Join us. » The tone is of urgency but not of alarm and carries with it command.

In this, Marel will do as she is told, right as the understanding that her twin will find out all tonight too begins to permeate and knocks the last of any fight out of her. Hopefully, it's not taken the last of her willpower with it, and hopefully no-one will have to carry her to the infirmary, but she already looks to be somewhere between asleep and awake, exhausted by confessions and the heaviness of her pain. "…M'kal," is the last request she makes before she slumps in against her mother like a much younger Marel might have, to wait and see what the following hours bring.

When Mur'dah arrives, Seryth will be crouched in the meadow without the cottage, calm but eyes tinted yellow of concern. To his knock he'll see his mother and twin sister sitting together on one of the couches. Thea's arm snugly around Marel, who not only looks physically ill but injured as well, for a crutch is leaned within reach. "I need you to help me get her to the infirmary, Mur," Thea will say barely keeping the tremble from the calm-sounding words. Questions will have to wait, apparently. "I will send for M'kal," she promises with a brush of lips to Marel's dark hair.

Mur'dah jogs his way to the clearing, fresh from duties and still in his riding leathers. His eyes widen at the sight of his twin in such a state, hands clenching at his side as he looks at his mother and then his sister before long strides bring him forward. A nervous anger is brewing within him, visible in the clench of his jaw, but his touch is exhaustively gentle despite the tremble to his hands. "What's wrong with her?" he whispers, gazing again at his sister, worry simmering in the depths of his gaze. "I can carry her, Mom, let me."

Thea really doesn't want Marel walking all that way and as it's dark now, there are less folks about to see it happen. "We'll get you there, Sweet. Just relax, hmm?" She simply nods to Mur'dah and rises. There's no time right now to go into a long explanation of what has happened, but she can let him know so he won't cause his twin too much pain when he lifts her, "She has a wound to her thigh-" Her fingers brush the skirt featherlight to indicate which one so he can be careful with that and avoid jostling it. "-it's been a month and I suspect festering and in need of a second look by the healers." Second because she's fairly certain she's been seen but the once and that was the night it happened. Her tone is clipped both with worry and to shorten things so they can get moving. Meanwhile Seryth is bespeaking Xeosoth.

Mur'dah frowns all the more deeply, bending to gently - tenderly - gather his sister into his arms. He holds her on her good side, so her injured one faces out and has no pressure on it. "She was wounded?" It's a simple, softly spoken question but the look to his mother speaks volumes. Mostly, 'Why wasn't I told!!??' But getting Marel to the healers is his first priority, as he begins to carefully make his way out.

Thea simply nods, meeting her son's eyes. She was wounded, yes. "I just found out. Hush now, shhh Mur," she says gently. "I'll explain later. Or she will." Right now, she doesn't want Marel any more distressed than she is. She follows, shutting the door as they exit, then accompanies them to the infirmary where no doubt they'll both keep vigil until the healers are finished. Then, somewhere towards midnight, the Weyrwoman will slip out and find a certain someone to make clear a few certain and hard facts about his children. Whether he is coherent enough to understand will not matter; she will return in the morning with klah and sit through the hangover and await sobriety to make sure he understands - clearly - what he's lost and losing. Between then and morning she'll return to Marel's bedside.

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License