Blood and Games

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.
Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

Rukbat is slowly rearing her head over the ridge, the sky fading into a denim blue as the light chases the darkness and the few holdout stars are losing ground rapidly to the pressing daylight. Winds from the sea provide a slight chill to the air, mist fleeing with the night. Typically this time of day is one of quiet industry, today breaks that sacred rule as Neifeth circles a herd of bleating caprines who escaped the feeding pens for the last time. Diving down into her prey, she gets within a meter of one before swooping up and turning around to chase them the other direction; there's no honor among thieves and even less among hunting greens. Hovering for a moment, whirling orange eyes glowing in the dawnlight, a beacon for others to GO AWAY if her general presence is not enough. Loud screeches of scared animals are sure to wake the neighbors, and whoever the green's rider is, they are nowhere to be seen. No one to stop the cruel mistress from playing her petty games with the lesser beasts; she's got them in her clutches and is content to fish out the screams. The perfect start to a day, really.

Light spreads across the sky, but sometimes darkness also spreads. There might be shadows cast by clouds… or by the span of wings that are themselves a mingling of darkness and light, a brindling of bronze and black folded together. Perhaps the shrieks of animals roused Garouth, or perhaps he was already out for a morning flight and merely encountered them by chance.. Either way, the bronze drifts his way through the sky with an easy glide adjusted with flickers of tattered wings that soar him toward where the cruel green makes a frenzy of her prey-herd, taking that shared mind that herd-beasts seem to share and tormenting it to (and past) breaking with her feints and twisting strikes. His thoughts might as well be those same shadows, carried on the winds as drifting curls of darkness, observant but as yet silent as he approaches.

The brindled bronze is spotted and ignored, a nuisance object at best, and a creature to be dispatched at worse. Rising higher in the sky, a hiss emits from her narrow-toothed maw, jaws remaining open as she thrashes her head from side to side in distaste. The bronze might as well be a sour flavor in her mouth, forked tongue slipping in and out before snorting her derision; she has no idea how small she is and seems to care not that he's twice her size. Long before she deems to speak to the male intruder, her mind slithers forward, coated with ash and blood as decay carries the emotion of revulsion. Not a pretty toy, she's an apex predator, and he's in her space. A caprine is captured with a dive down, not killed, and the animals' death cries echo off the ridge as it's throat peels like butter under razor-sharp jaws. Only once her maw doused in its blood does she deem to address the bronze, her mind a large stand of crimson trees that grow from a forest covered in oozing crimson liquid. Each word is filled with disdain, biting, forward, and bossy. «Do no touch a single one, I have them labeled and categorized and even if I'm not going to eat them, I will not be sharing. You can take your fat head and funny looking wings elsewhere; this breakfast was by invitation only, and I would never invite the likes of you.» The definition of rude, she lays down her ruling as if it were written in the charter itself.

There's nothing for that slithering blood-specter to find but more shadows, patterns of darkness that shift like tree-branches past the windows, the sway of clothing in the breeze, the little nothings that imagination turns into monsters… except there's not even a reality here, no firm solidity to be comfort of peril; just shadows, that drift away and lengthen back, just a sense of presence somewhere in or of that darkness. The bronze glides, drifting like his shadows, and though he curves his arc in a circle, he makes no move to enter his own attack-dive or pounce… nor even to speak, until Neifeth is the one to break that silence with her sharp disdain. The blood-trees rise, their branches throbbing like the arteries and veins that bloom rich sanguine from the blood-pools, and Garouth is a ripple across the thick expanse of blood, a rumble of laughter across that sluggish liquid. « Why would I want another's prey? » he asks, the question seemingly rhetorical, amused in its tone at the prospect that he would stoop to dive for a beast already constrained, contained, claimed. Such ridiculousness… and yet despite disclaiming his interest in hunting these beasts, Garouth also makes no move to fly away and leave Neifeth to her playing and feeding.

Not finding purchase in the mind of the invader and possible breakfast thief, Neifeth's mind swishes, and the trees molt into a swirl of ebony water that threatens to suck anyone who gets to close to it up. Smoke and mirrors are her game, shifting and mercurial her hide a warning bell to anyone who can read the writing on the wall. She is danger, a force of nature wrapped up in spots and stripes. «I am not slow enough to understand the inner workings of your insect-like mind, OK. » With that, she slams out the contact and digs into her prey, viciously dragging out her dining as meat is hauled from the bone. Even as she eats, she glances upward, head swaying side to side as she follows his path to ensure he doesn't change his mind. It's in this lull that Evi appears, dressed head to toe in dawn pink flight leathers, fawn hair braided loosely behind her head. A stark contrast to her dragon, she is skipping along the path, actually skipping, each step a tiny hop of pleasure as if she were utterly oblivious to the morning's death. There's no indication she even notices Neifeth turning the meadow red with blood, but she glances up at the circling bulk of dark and light bronze hide and sighs. "So that's it, hrmmm." A sharp smile, eyes narrowing with momentary shared pleasure before rolling in exasperation.

How could Garouth not be there, amid the darkness of turgid water, the spray of shadows and the threat of that underwater grave? Shadows, troubled water, the spiral and twist of darkness… flecks of dark water that fly up to blot out, or else become, the stars. He is shadows, the interplay of light and dark like his hide, but also the interplay of primal wilderness between life and death, the monsters that fear creates… or simply the heedless vastness of nature. And so he laughs again, at Neifeth's insult, the voice a cacophany of swarms, locusts and beetles and wasps that hum and chitter and click as they take birth from the whirlpool of blackened water that was once blood, a chaotic horde of tiny insects that can - together - strip even the mightiest of beasts to the bone… but then he's gone. Yes. Surely gone, for all that any individual insect is tiny, evasive, an unnotable flea to one so mighty as a dragon. As elusive and impossible to catch as… well, as a shadow. Garouth still casts one of those, of course; his physical form drifting through the skies on tattered wings, unhurried in his pace… though he still shows no inclination nor interest in Neifeth's beasts and bloodbath, nor in insinuating his mind to hers once more… presuming, of course, that it is actually gone.

Allowing the contact back, the illusion of closing off vanishing into endless, tight, purple trees that conceal the power within. Studying him from afar, yellow eyes peek through the forest, the darkness staring back out and prodding forward with a stalking grace that only predators posses, a jungle cat and yet bigger somehow. Light reflects off of mental teeth, the snapping sound on the ground echoed mentally and reaching out towards anyone near enough the meadow to hear it. CRUNCH, SNAP, CLACK, bone hitting bone in a display of dominance. Yet beneath all of this are tendrils, whisps of pleasure waft off the green's mental space. Mind devouring bugs are examined with interest, absorbed with a nod of appreciation that's quickly hidden behind the ocean of disgust towards the simple IDEA of him. Pulling back as her rider enters the field, the green seems to be ignoring the bright young woman even as she settles her backside on a rock and watches. "Nei Nei, do you know his name?" Asking out loud in a hushed bubble, her words flowing like a brook and the tone used drips with affection towards the receiver. Neifeth pokes forward, the trees swooshing as her words echo from the land itself «Mine wishes to know your name, shards to me why she cares.» Distaste, a front for a creature far more complicated then she presents to the world.

It's easy to become lost in a forest, after all, especially when some of those trees are reflected like a hall of mirrors, illusions cast back and forth until one might start to question what 'reality' even was in the first place… and the depths of that question are still only a start. Neifeth's forest is endless, and so there is no place where it ends and Garouth's begins… yet amid the tangle of her trees are others that she never planted, their leaves turning to autumn colors of purple and teal in concordance, orange in bright discord. Neifeth's motion sweeps them like a wind, sending loosened leaves to scurry from their branches, to tumble through the air in chaotic swirls that cast flickering shadows beneath their passages, imperfect echoes on the ground of their progress through the sky. One of those falling leaves lands, and there's a crunching sound - crisp leaves underneath a foot, or else - as it comes again - the grind of teeth on bone. « Perhaps she has a reason. » Another crunch, bone/leaf turned to shards and powder, and shadows balance with the stark whiteness of a skeletal beast, the emergence of a wolf-creature stripping to gleaming bone (white-brindled, 'gainst the forest showing through his bones) whose eye-sockets hold a pair of dark flesh-beetles who dance to echo the gaping nothing of his skull's grin. « I am Garouth. »

The tampering with her forest brings a rumble of discontent from the ground, mind lashing out like a snobby only child who is not used to having her toys touched. A snobby only child is the perfect description of Neifeth, her mindset that of a spoiled brat. There's no hint of apology as she swipes out at him mentally, shaking the forest as the kaleidoscope of colors turn from violet to deep cobalt, any tree that was hers now clearly visible as it cannibalizes the light that grew it. Not that natural rules even matter in this playground. Absorbing Garouths idea, the stark branches bloom with leaves that grow and grow until they block any light from hitting the wolf. Through the tight branches, the heavy breathing of another breast can be heard, the smell of carrion on its breath, the music of sweet flutes, a summoning, and a sirens call as the notes dance among the oversized shrubbery. Concealed in the bushes, yellow eyes peer down and up simultaneously. «You fool, you handed me your name as if it were nothing.» Laughter echoes from the sky, far away, the demigod of this plain feeling no need to be fully present. «Well Garouth, you, may call me Neith.» She is not lying, simply assigning a title she would prefer to be addressed by. Neifeth swallows the last of her goat and takes to the sky again, body slick and red as she's not a clean eater by any means. Deeming to fly directly underneath the bronze, close enough to be considered pesky, and not minding that personal space should be a thing. Evi shakes her head with a frown, procuring a pocket-sized pink notebook and writing the name down. "NeiNei, stop messing with him; we don't even know who he is." Applying no pressure to the command, it's ignored for the moment.

Now, as earths tremble and trees grow, now as trees consume their parasitic cousins - or else the other way around - and sprout with leaves to block out the sunlight… now the wolf of bones and shadows is truly here, hidden from the eyes and scentless on the nose. « I may. » Then again, he may not; Garouth makes no promise, though his tone is gracious like the curve of bones, rich like the marrow hidden within them. « And you may wonder why I give you what I do. » There's warmth to his voice, the heat of the ground as leaves decay, the faint smell of humus made rich by the soak of blood as the very forest feeds with every kill. Garouth flies on, and his wings shift as Neifeth joins him, altering his position… not away from her, but almost as if to match her more closely; a looming shadow above her, an extension of her own wings like brightdark echo of the smaller beast whose bloodstained maw still drips the occasional scarlet drop down upon the world below. Blood shall rain, and if there's only a few droplets of it on this particular occasion, they still sink into the ground where they fall, spatter the occasional rooftop of creature, and mark the world with the signs of Neifeth's reign of terror. …and while Garouth doesn't quite think those thoughts at Neifeth, they're nonetheless left near the surface, unprotected, where they can be snatched away by cunning mental talons.

A world of contrast, the creature that Neifeth appears to be, even while not appearing at all, smells strongly of sweet death mingled with enticing spice. Whatever lurks beyond remains slithering through the trees with the sound of footsteps from far off. Pitter, pat, the ring of a tambourine shaking in the darkness, keeping time, step, shake, step, shake. Eery calm settles in, amplifying the song as even the giant leaves refuse to rustle in approbation for the being amongst the soaring woods. «I will not wonder anything about you.» She barks from beneath him, snapping up everything he offers greedily and discarding most of it in a show of nonchalance. She doesn't need nor want anything he gives her; she will look at it because it exists but show no appreciation. Still, the scents meld as decay is soaked in and allowed to propagate in her land, hers, everything is hers. Neifeth will have what she wants when she wants it, and there will not be any standing in her way. A threat as much as a promise. Flying beneath him for a full circle, she dives once more with a twist of dark and light as a black goat is impaled onto her talons without getting close enough to have actually grabbed it. Telekinesis, the kind that has little control but a large allotment of power, only useful alone in situations where the target's safety is of no importance. «Do you like, even live here?» Snapping out the question with impunity, as she rips into a second kill, and Evi rises to carefully snake closer. "Dearest, we have places to be today, and if you eat them all, they won't be here to eat later." The voice of logic, the balance for such a creature. Wise enough to stay far enough back, the rider's eyes follow Garouth with curiosity, she rides a female dragon and knowing the male dragons that deem to dance with her green is part of her job. A quiet gulp to swallow down fear, because she is responsible for this pair and unknown males, makes her queasy.

Garouth presents no argument to Neifeth's claims that she'll not wonder about him, that she'll hardly even think about him… that she doesn't even care for his thoughts, instead focused on her claim for the world, her song, hers hers hers … and Garouth soars, his own wings still in comparison to Neifeth's, their larger spans permitting him less frequent adjustments. So, really, if any leaves are rustling, any dark shadow-clouds stirring, it must be because Neifeth is the one doing it. The blood is… not hers by origin, but then, it's seldom enough the hunter's blood that's spilled, is it? It becomes the hunter's by right of claim, of conquest, by the predatory strike and claws and teeth that rends for consumption and the pleasure of it. Neifeth dives again, kills again, rends with the power of her mind in conjunction with her claws… and asks a question of Garouth, despite her claims that she doesn't wonder about him. « I may. » And with that non-answer, the brindled bronze gives a stronger beat of his wings - then follows it with another - in a shift from easy glide to the tireless, sky-eating pace of a wolf with somewhere to be, his thoughts moving like the wingswept clouds to shift away from the carnage of Neifeth's forest, the charnel-tangle of sweet spices and death, and leave her with that prey upon which she exerts her inarguable (or, at least, unargued) claim.

Contradiction incarnate, she does not have to admit to anything, and she won't be starting today of all days. As light has finally graced the field and activity picks up, there's work to be done. It would be easy to assume that she is slovenly, work below her. Yet she finishes the goat quickly, not tidy but expeditious, mind disconnecting and disjointing as her world comes apart and fades towards the light of her life. For a fraction of a moment, a glimpse of a bright cerulean ocean speckled with fish of ruby, sapphire, emerald, and citrine, creatures trapped in bubbles that do not belong underwater. Rabbits, felines, and floppy-eared canines all sent forth for the amusement of one. A snare she set long ago, to catch the most valuable prey. «Good riddance I say, don't let the door hit you on your way out.» Is her biting response, even as she shifts focus and entombs Evi in otherwordly joy. A giggle emits from the soft pink-clad girl; they slip into step and move as a unit towards the lake. "NeiNei, let's get you cleaned up. We have a schedule." Shadows move away, the light chasing them and making them meer memories that will fade from the green mind long before they are afterthoughts to her rider. Who was that bronze? Why had she never seen him before? The knot in Evi's stomach grows and deepens the furrow between her brows, even as electric green fish swim through her head.

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