Homeward Bound?

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrfarm
From the winding road that connects Xanadu and its outlying holds, a narrower path reaches to an expanse of land by the bank that once was - or perhaps still is - a farm. The path weaves through an orchard, trees of various sorts overhanging the path to provide shade as well as their harvest of fruit, while rough-hewn fences of split logs mark out pastures and tracts of cropland. Some have been left fallow, tall grasses scattered with wildflowers, while others have been planted with neat rows of vegetables or the swaying stalks of grain. A few sturdy herdbeasts graze in one of the further pastures, accompanied by a flock of half-wild avians.
There's a rambling farmhouse, two stories tall and with a covered porch that sweeps around the whitewashed exterior with views of farmlands and coast. It's relatively large, but still easily overshadowed by the barn that looms beside it. The barn's doors are carefully balanced and set with an automatic mechanism that can be manipulated by either of human's hand or dragon's claw. Inside are a set of poured slabs, massive artificial stones that can be heated or cooled for draconic comfort. Tucked around them, or in a loft reached by stairs or freight elevator, there are various supplies being stored for later use. The barn's heating system shares some components with a small fieldstone forge tacked onto the back.

The old farm. It's been empty for… Faranth, nearly three turns. The place is probably entirely overgrown by weeds and brambles… that is, if it hasn't been given over to someone else by now. That's the more likely story, that the key of their weyr's been handed over to a new family… and yet, here they are. When Luraoth thought home she brought up the picture of the old farm, and Soriana didn't quite feel like arguing they should go to Xanadu's clearing instead… maybe because, really, she wanted to see if for herself as well.

Kanekith didn't argue when Luraoth shared the coordinates. Neither did Ka'el, presumably.

So they went between.

It's not as overgrown as she was expecting. The house still stands. The fields and pastures are the same ragged checkerboard… if anything, they're neater than before. The fruit trees look like they've been trimmed back, and those shapes there are herdbeasts…

Oh. So it has been given to someone else, someone who's actually keeping it up as a farm. That's… good, Soriana supposes. It being used, and all.

Luraoth tips her wings, gliding down to land in one of the fallow fields. Soriana undoes her straps… wait. Why is she doing that, if this isn't their home anymore? Why should she dismount here?

She hesitates, and a young voice pipes up. "Let's go!" Skyler, sitting in front of her just past the strapped-on cradle, twists to stare at his mother. "I wanna see it."

He's six turns old now. He can hardly remember having lived here half his life ago, can he?

"In a minute," Soriana replies to her son, and looks over to Kanekith. Kaesen, riding in front of Ka'el, has never lived here. His infant memories - or infant lack thereof - are all of Telgar. He looks around now with wide-eyed curiosity, drinking in this new place in silence.

Past him is Ka'el, and Soriana's eyes fall there next. Her weyrmate, the one who - after some confusion - came with her to Telgar, and now returns with her.

Ka'el meets her gaze, and he says, "You could take them to look around. I can check us in and find out where we're going."

Where they're going. Where their new weyr is, that they'll be shuffled into as arrivals to Xanadu instead of longtime residents.

Soriana swallows, and nods. "Yeah. Okay."

She swings down off Luraoth's neck, perching on the gold's leg as she unbuckles Skyler and helps him down. He cheers as his feet touch ground, and charges over to Kanekith to wait for his father to release Kaesen.

Soriana takes the cradle herself, slung over an arm as she hops off Luraoth's leg. The gold dragon rumbles softly, and Soriana nods as she steps over to Kanekith to smile to Ka'el and collect the boys. The basket-cradle is handed up to Ka'el in exchange for Kaesen, fastened in to his straps.

"Keep an eye on your brother," Soriana tells Skyler. "And stay close."

Skyler nods. "Course!" he says, but he stands a little taller with the job as he takes Kaesen's hand in his own, walking off with his brother. "An' that one's blue," he says, pointing to a flower. "An' that's white. An' so's that!" …because apparently what Kaesen needs, according to Skyler, is to learn about colors.

They wander the fields a little, once Kanekith and Ka'el have gone, but somehow it seems like they're drifting closer to that farmhouse in those wanderings. Somehow.

If Soriana's being honest with herself, she knows exactly why; it's because she's deciding to turn that way, at the moments she has a choice, because she wants to know who it is who's taken away her home. …no, her former home. She gave it up willingly.

And yet. Soon enough they're in the patch that serves as a front yard - not that there isn't an entire farm worth of yard, in various forms, but this is the place where the path leads. There's more flowers for Skyler to point out to his brother, as well as a variety of shrubs that are all different shades of green. Soriana smiles, watching them… and then her gaze drifts up, looking in the windows of the cottage. Or trying to, anyhow; it's dark in there, and the glare makes it hard to see.

Besides. She's not actually going to go squinting in people's windows, right? That would be rude. She's just curious if she can maybe incidentally see something.

Skyler's babbling is interrupted by a younger voice. Kaesen, uttering what might be his first comment so far this trip. "Who tha'?"

Soriana looks. He and Skyler are off at the edge of the yard, not yet too far but getting toward that point. Especially with some sort of strange- er. Some sort of person who belongs here because they live here now, but try telling that to the twitch of adrenaline.

Kaesen is pointing to someone, hidden from Soriana behind the bulk of the house.

"I dunno," Skyler answers his brother, then beams to… whoever. "Hullo!"

Soriana's already in motion, a quick stride that wastes no time in arriving on-scene.

Her hand comes to rest on Skyler's shoulder as shes steps in behind the boys. Ma is here now… not that either of them seem worried, the elder beaming while the younger watches curiously.

What he's watching is… a scarecrow come to life? No, wait. It's an old man, with weathered skin around still-bright eyes and a face that may be stuck in that scowl, and his clothes are at least a step and a half above those of a scarecrow - they've been patched neatly and were probably clean before they got muddy today.

The old man is eyeing the children, and as Soriana comes up behind them his gaze lifts to her. "Huh. And who're you?"

Just some old uncle. Soriana feels the smile coming, the calm expression that soothes over so many things. "I'm Soriana," she says. "We've just transferred back here."

"Here?" the man asks, his eyes darting out to the fields and then back to the family group.

"Uh-huh!" Skyler says. "We're gonna live here!"

"What he means is-"

"You cain't have the turnips."

Soriana blinks. "What?"

"I ain't gonna argue about the rye, that's fine, but I bred that strain of turnip myself and I ain't giving back the field until I done harvested it."

"We're… not going to take your turnips."

"You ain't?" There's hope on the old man's face, an easing of those well-worn lines.

"No. We're not," Soriana assures him.

"I don't even like turnips!" Skyler pipes up, while Kaesen looks to his brother, then back to the old man.

He's smiling, now. Just a little, but it's there. "Well. Thank you, ma'am. I suppose I oughtn't have taken those fields in the first place, but it's a right weight off me to know I'll get the use of them."

"You're… welcome," Soriana says, with that slight concern rising. What has she just agreed to? Is she getting in the middle of some long-standing (or, well, three-year-standing) feud? "I'm sure everything will work out." Possibly including her apologies to the Weyrwoman for having caused trouble before she's even officially back. "Why don't you just… tell me what's been happening?" There's the smile again. Everything is (will be) fine. She hopes.

"Well, awright," the old farmer says. "I'm Dougal. Came from Riverbend Hold, two turns back… and it sure ain't that I'm not grateful to the Weyr for taking me in, but I ain't used to sitting idle, that's the problem. They got me in that little cottage," he gestures vaguely, out across the fields, "And I ain't barely got room for even a garden, and then there's these lovely fields right here just sitting empty waiting for someone to come plant them. Well, and who was going to mind it, I figured? Weren't nobody living there… er, not then, anyhow." He bobs his head, a holder's gesture of respect. "You'll be wanting to plant yourself next season, I'm sure."

"So…" Okay. Soriana thinks she has the thread of the story here, but let's deal with the most important thing first! "There hasn't been anyone living here?" a gesture to the far-nearer building, the farmhouse beside them.

"Ain't been, no. Turned into storage or some such, got the furniture in it." Dougal looks to her, a trace of puzzlement as he asks, "Ain't it yours, now?"

"Well… it may be, yes." If nobody's using it… why couldn't they take it back? Soriana's certainly smiling now. Next thing! "And you've been using the farmlands around to grow crops?"

"Yes ma'am. Got a couple herdbeasts out in the pasture, too." He frowns. "I guess I can turn them back to the herds…"

"You could," Soriana says, and she can see his face fall three more centimeters before she adds, "Or you could keep them."

Dougal blinks. "Ma'am?"

"I'm not much of a farmer. Neither is my weyrmate. If you wanted to work the land… well, I think that would be a far better thing for it than just going to waste, don't you? I'm sure we could arrange for any supplies you need, or… help come harvest time." That's a thing, right? That farmers want?

Dougal stares for a moment, and then he grins as he nods. "Yes ma'am!" he says. "It would be a right honor to do that, and there's plenty what I could do with the place. I been thinking, if I had a bit of help I could do a proper berry patch, raised beds and all…"

Soriana smiles, indulgent, then holds up her hand in a gesture of mild warning. "Nothing too ambitious. We don't have unlimited resources, and I don't want you straining yourself."

Dougal actually chuckles, for that. "Ah, course not. But I'll think about it, I will, and maybe I'll have some ideas for you come tomorrow…" He tips his hat, then turns and takes up his wheelbarrow, ambling off into the fields again.

Kaesen watches him go, and so does Soriana until Skyler tilts his head up and asks, "Who's he?"

She looks back to her son, thinking it over a moment, then smiles. "Mister Dougal is a farmer."

The farmer, in fact, for this here farm… with its empty farmhouse that will soon enough be filled once more by Soriana and Ka'el and all their family.

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