Trust Rewarded

Xanadu Weyr - Shore of Lake Caspian
The cliffs that run along the shore come and go, various weyrs nestled along the tops of them or dug into the walls, but eventually they recede enough to expose a beach. The white sand echoes the rise and fall of the cliffs with a multitude of sandy dunes, endlessly creating tiny valleys that are constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of dragons. The dunes smooth out as the gentle slope approaches the edge of the deep blue water. The sand darkens, and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect.

The beach narrows to the southwest, leaving a path barely wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to a smaller, more sheltered cove. The sands are the same white, the waters the same blue, but they're calmer and more tranquil, more protected from the winds that ruffle Lake Caspian and the currents that tug beneath the surface.

Rough, wide stairs lead up to the meadow above and the road that runs along the top of the cliffs, passing through the fields and heading for the river mouth that can be just barely seen from here. The largest of the staircases up the cliff is located near the docks that jut out onto the peaceful blue waters.

'Ware the beach and its monsters. In this case, said monsters are about 4 feet tall and just finishing their masterpiece: Stefyr, in sand. The big man must have dozed off on his towel, for there's enough of it under his head to be seen. His head, with it's sunburned cheeks, nose and brow, seems to be the only part of the gardener that has escaped being mounded in white sand. While other Weyrfolk dot the shore of the smaller, calmer cove enjoying the warm, sunny summer day, the group of four mischief makers have nominated their bravest to creep close enough (but not so close as arm's reach, just in case) to shout in the man's ear before the group is sprinting at top speed up the path toward the dunes where they might play hide and hopefully not sought by the— well, Stefyr's more groggy than irate as his eyes come open. His situation becomes readily noticed though as the sand shifts a little, indicating some kind of flex of muscles and some of the top of the pile goes skittering down the sides, but the kids have done their job well and the blond man is left staring stupefied down his own bulk.

N'on just so happens to have a dragon who enjoys sunbathing. As is usual for this time of day, when the sun hits the sand just so, she has settled on the beach with her claws curled underneath her and her wings draped over the sand like some odd combination of cat and fine lady. N'on, meanwhile, is taking the opportunity to walk down the beach, ambling no where in particular. The sudden shout draws his attention, but by the time he spots the source, the mischief makers are already skittering off to who-knows-where. With a mildly amused look on his face, N'on starts to make his way over. Coming to help or just gawk at the show? Time will tell.

Stefyr is entitled to be as confused as he appears. It is a fairly sizable accomplishment the kids have wrought, and the duration of the brow-knitted consideration given the pile would seem to indicate that it was unexpected. The gardener doesn't look immediately for help, or even for the source, but gives an experimental movement some kind. It causes some fissures to start, though it doesn't seem to truly damage the structure. Maybe the kids were secret genius engineers or something or maybe they were just lucky, the result is the same: Stefyr is stuck, at least without more effort. There's a low swear before he starts to crane his neck as far as it will go. There are people here, but none especially near, except, oh look, someone comes. It's a weird angle for Stefyr, but he cranes and calls anyway, "Hey! Uh," how to explain? He doesn't, "A little help? Please?" Only then does he seem to feel the painful-looking sunburn on his face and winces. Maybe he owes those kids for keeping the rest of his body from turning as red as his face?

N'on tilts his head a little, taking in the whole predicament in silent examination. He glances up the beach, and for a moment, there's nothing. Then, Zhe gives a great heave of a sigh and hauls herself reluctantly to her feet. Her wings are given a quick snap the shake off any sand clinging to her hide, and a few paces bring her over to Stefyr. Almost carelessly, one giant dragon paw takes a swipe at the pile of sand, and a good amount of it goes sweeping away. Hopefully it's enough to let him dig out! Zhe is certainly not going to do any more, it seems, as she takes a pace away and then flops back into the sand. N'on grins and steps back over to offer Stefyr a hand up.

Stefyr's eyes grow comically large when Zhelinath draws near, and a yelp is choked as soon as it starts when her paw goes swinging across. The rest is practically child's play with all the adrenaline the gardener suddenly has to work with. His cheeks look even redder with a flush that might be because of that rather unmanly sound that managed to get out, but that doesn't stop him from reaching for N'on's offered hand. "Thank you," is directed to N'on, but a glance follows to the green and he adds, "both." He is careful to take a couple of awkward steps away before he sets about brushing himself as free of sand as any brushing is going to get him. There's a little bit of a wiggle-dance because some has made it up his swim trunks and it rains down his legs which are brushed with long, sharp sweeps. "You didn't happen to see what happened there, did you?" He inquires over his shoulder to the greenrider.

N'on looks off in the direction the children ran, then fumbles in his pocket for something to write on. It's a quick job to scrawl a one-word note, which he passes over to Stefyr. "Kids." Apparently assuming that's the only necessary explanation, he shrugs and gives a rueful smile. He takes a moment to gives Stefyr a quick glance down and up, checking for obvious signs of injury. Since nothing obvious presents itself, he leaves it at that.

The only injury is the sunburnt face, which Stefyr encounters with fingers after he's done brushing himself off, and it's enough to warrant a flinch. There's a little bit of pink color to his legs, chest and arms, but that could be either sun or a little sand abrasion and nothing to get worked up about. His hands come away from his face as he turns back toward N'on, only to blink at the note. Evidently, the gardener is still too new to be in the know. He looks from note to N'on, then back to the note. "I-" he hesitates briefly then finishes, "-should've guessed. I didn't think there were kids who could out-do my cousins for mischief." His blue gaze briefly searches the beach as though counting possible suspects (nevermind that none of the ones that did this are here anymore, there are kids enough to be suspicious of). "You're that guy who was there for the firelizard-swan-search thing, right? I'm Stefyr." He might still be struggling with how to politely ask about the note.

N'on gives Stefyr a rather skeptical, amused look, but doesn't bother trying to conjur up any further explanation. He nods a confirmation of their previous meeting, and offers a hand to shake. Whether it's accepted or not, he pulls out a note from his chest pocket. This time it's pre-written, so he simply passes it over and takes it back when Stefyr has had a chance to read it. "I am N'on. My dragon is green Zhelinath." He still doesn't bother offering an explanation for the notes.

The handshake is easily done, but another note? Stefyr blinks at it, blinks at the greenrider, and slowly takes the note, offering back the other in trade. The gardener's lips move very slightly as his blue eyes work their way across the letters, carefully, slowly. He briefly bites his lower lip, only to hiss as he realizes that they, too, are sunburnt. He lifts his free hand up to touch them for a moment of tender exploration before as he hands the note back. "Uh, sorry," pre-apologies always herald good things, "what's with the notes?" Awkward question is awkward, and the big blond looks both apologetic and awkward in the moment after the question, his hand dropping away from his lips.

N'on watches the way in which Stefyr reads the note, and his face falls a little. With a touch of embarrassment, he glances away, looking out toward the ocean. He waits until the gardener is finished, then carefully folds the note up and tucks it into his pocket. The smile he gives in response to the question is only a bit self-conscious. Rather than offer another note, he lifts a shoulder in a half-shrug. By way of explanation, he claps a hand over his lips, then taps at his throat with two fingers. Then he shrugs again with another of those apologetic smiles.

Stefyr's blue eyes follow everything, and the flush returns to his face, more with each new moment. "Oh." It's a digesting sound. The very obvious wince is self-punishing as evidenced by the low, "Ow," and then he's squaring his broad shoulders and looking to N'on. "Sorry. I didn't mean to make it … weird." He started strong and then got awkward again for a moment there. "I'm… I didn't-" he clears his throat, embarrassed in his own right for a whole new reason, "-have to read very much back on the farm. Just enough to get by. So I'm, uh, slow," kindly put. "Are you the patient sort?" It's inquired with a little hopeful raise of his brows. He's got that hopeful-to-please puppy look. That hopeful-to-please sunburnt puppy look.

The look Stefyr receives suggests that N'on may find that a silly question. But at least there's a good deal of amusement there. But he gives a thumbs up to make it clear that everything is okay. With that, he gestures for Stefyr to follow and turns to head toward the weyr proper. After a few paces away, he stops and glances back to be sure Stefyr understood and is following. Zhelinath slits one eye open briefly, then closes it again and pointedly rests her head on the sand. She's staying right here, thanksverymuch.

Evidently slow with reading doesn't mean he's (always) slow in other areas. The gestures seem to be received clearly enough. Stefyr is quick enough to snatch up his towel give it a quick shake and then to claim a comically small daypack from not far away, pulling its small strap over one large shoulder, the towel joining it, before he trots along to catch up to N'on. Once he's caught up, it's more of a saunter than a trot. "Is there- are there better ways than others to talk with you? I mean," awkward Stefyr is a little awkward, but he's getting past it because he does seem genuinely interested in conversing with the greenrider and 'doing it right,' whatever that is. "I'd guess writing notes and walking would be a little tricky, and I'd probably end up babbling to the point of idiocy if I went on-" and as his own words hit him, he abruptly cuts himself off with a sidelong look of chagrin. Was he there yet?

N'on grins in such a good-natured way that it's hard to imagine he takes any offense to any of this. He makes several gestures with his hands, most likely utterly meaningless to Stefyr. He follows that up with a wink to show he knows it wouldn't likely be understood. Nevertheless, he keeps leading the way off the beach. The path gradually leads toward the feeding grounds, or at least that area of the weyr, though the reason remains a mystery.

Stefyr's listening skills extend to listening with his eyes, and though the gestures mean nothing to him, he does seem to grasp the idea. His hand shoots out aiming to stop their forward momentum briefly with a touch on N'on's elbow. "Those mean things to you. Words." The pace of his speech indicates he's still piecing together as he goes. "Can anyone learn? Can I?" Why he would want to is anyone's guess at this point, but his expression is earnest and entirely serious.

N'on seems more taken aback by that request than any of their interactions so far. He stops dead in his tracks, staring at Stefyr with round-eyed curiosity. Slowly, he smiles. Then, a slow nod. With a crooked smile, he goes back to the scrap of paper. He takes a little more time to neatly form his letters, and keeps the message short: "Ask Harpers. I'll help."

There's no blinking this time, so that's progress. Stefyr simply accepts the note and reads, lips moving again without sound. "Harpers, of course." That's a groan there, but then a big, goofy sort of grin from the gardener. "I kind of forgot they have those here. I've been keeping my head in my work so much since I got here." Stefyr excuses himself, but only sort of. He gives a little shrug. "Thank you. I'd appreciate the help. And I will ask the harpers." If he asks the Harpers, they'll probably pretty quickly realize that the former farmer could use some help improving in other areas, too, and they'll have N'on to thank for their newest victim. There's a little bounce in the blond man's step as they resume motion toward the Weyr. "I hope the Harpers here are nicer than the one that made the rounds out my way. That woman was a nightmare. Like, an actual one. I had horrible dreams about her visits after she left. Every time." That babbling thing, he's doing it again.

N'on sends Stefyr a sympathetic look as he paces along in his usual silence. After a few paces, he reaches over and gives a comforting pat to the other man's shoulder. Whether it's meant to ease concerns or bolster Stefyr's confidence for the trial to come is anyone's guess! Soon enough, he turns off the path to head toward a small, older structure built near the feeding grounds. It looks like some sort of ramshackle shed, but that appears to be their destination.

Being trusting is exactly what landed Stefyr in Leirith's straps for his first time on a dragon (among other things like astoundingly bad decision making skills), and one might hope that the blond man would learn from such experiences, but evidently not (or not quickly enough). He keeps pace with N'on, blithely unconcerned to all appearances about their destination until the structure comes into sight and his brows rise a little bit, glancing toward the Weyr proper, but he doesn't veer off N'on's course. He does, rather than speaking for now, take his towel down off his shoulder and give it a few more shakes along his side to take off some more of the sands caught on it. He doesn't even ask this time where they're going or why, he just goes.

N'on is a creeper like that. On the bright side, he doesn't seem to expect Stefyr to follow him into the shed. He holds up a single finger in a 'wait' gesture, then steps through the slightly off-kilter door. There's a sound of rummaging around inside, until N'on reappears with a small jar of something. He opens it up, and dips out a finger-smear of some sort of clear, greenish gel. He starts to move toward Stefyr's face, then waits, brows lifted in a clearly questioning expression. He points vaguely toward Stefyr's face. Since that's so much clearer.

Most people would be relieved by not having to go into the weird shed with someone they barely know, but not Stefyr. Stefyr is the variety of supremely unaffected that indicates he was too oblivious to be relieved because what was there to be concerned about in the first place? Though blond brows are up and his face has a look of curiosity as N'on reappears with the jar and the contents are shown on his fingers, he doesn't look worried. He must not be wholly unfamiliar with creams or gels or whatever because he does manage to get, "You want to put that on my face?" He should next ask what it is, or something, anything (come on, Stefyr), but instead he just hunkers down the necessary distance to make it easy for the greenrider to readily reach his face. Apparently he can, sure, why not? Stefyr cares not for his face, or his life or his dignity. Only the last one of those is really wise.

N'on grins a little and smears some of the gel across Stefyr's nose and anywhere else that looks burned. It has a cool, soothing effect, and a touch of tingle that suggests perhaps just a dash of numbweed. When he's done, he cleans his hand off on his shirt and deposits the jar into Stefyr's hand.

"Ahhh," is the sigh that goes with the closing of Stefyr's eyes. It probably helps significantly, since it's really kind of everywhere. He must have been asleep too long for any precautionary measures he may have taken to ware off. "Thank you," is pretty heartfelt, more than the rescue, even. The blond man curls his fingers around the jar as he straightens. "We didn't have anything like that at home. I used to fall asleep in the fields sometimes, but I always had my hat and I left that at home." It was probably something the former farmer thought he would have no use for here. "Maybe I'll look for something in the stores," he goes on, his eyes drifting away from N'on, before his eyes snap back to the man. "Is there a way to say, 'thank you,' with those gestures, N'on?" See? He managed to read N'on's name. As long as no one asks him to try to pronounce the greenrider's lifemate's name, he's probably not going to make a total fool of himself. (Today. Again. More.)

N'on nods sympathetically to all of that. If he has anything comforting to offer, it remains unsaid. Again, he seems pleasantly surprised by the final question. Presumably by way of demonstration, he touches his lips and then holds his palm outstretched toward Stefyr. He raises an eyebrow and just waits to see if Stefyr will copy it.

Stefyr does, in fact, although the end products lacks finesse. He doesn't yet have an eye for the details of what is correct and what isn't. For now, the gardener is like a man with a bad accent. It takes a moment before he can copy though, because his hands had been occupied with stuffing the jar and his towel while he was at it into that laughably small day pack, so it's only copied after he gets the things put away (with some hasty shoving), and the bag is re-slung on his shoulder. "Like that?"

N'on doesn't seem overly concerned with it being specifically right. He grins brightly and nods, then touches his chest and gives a kind of half-bow. His eyes are positively sparkling with amusement, but at least he seems pleased! There's a bit of an awkward moment there where N'on isn't sure what to do next, but he gives Stefyr a clap on the shoulder, then gestures back the way they came, once again raising that questioning brow.

Stefyr grins right back at the greenrider. If it's awkward, the gardener doesn't seem to notice. Then again, he has an really awkward keen-to-dumb ratio going on in terms of his observations, so this might not be much of a surprise. He glances back the way they came and furrows his brows. "With whatever this is," he gestures to his face, "I'd better head back to the Weyr and get cleaned up. There's still sand in my shorts." That makes him scowl and he's not a man given to scowling, but then, sand does not feel good there. "I'll see if I can track down a Harper after that and I'll find you another day?" Since N'on offered his help and all, now he's stuck with the eager young man.

N'on tries not to look too amused by the poor man's sand issue. It's not easy! With a forced solemnity that just about comes out the other end as hilarity, he gives a thumbs up and a nod, with just a bit of a gleam in his eye. He signs 'thank you' again, though for what is not entirely clear. Further explanation will have to wait, because with that and a wave, he turns to head off back to the beach.

Stefyr slips in another attempt at 'thank you' back to the greenrider which probably doesn't take much guessing for what it's for - rescue, tending, learning, N'on can take his pick. Possibly, the blond simply mistook the greenrider's gesture for further instruction on the sign already attempted once. He raises his hand afterward in farewell before turning to head back toward the Weyr and the relief of the hot springs that awaits him.

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