Now She's Mur'dah's Worry!

High Reaches Weyr - Mountain Slope

A branching of the road to High Reaches leads into the mountains, ending at a steep slope that lies beneath several feet of snow through the Reaches winters. The snow and ice cling to the mountain's face percariously, mounds of white that look as though they might lose their hold at any moment. The trees here are bent and twisted by the wind, where they have managed to cling to the rock. Above, the mountain's peak is white even at mid-summer. Past the road on down the slope, the footing looks treacherous and the grade is far to high for any but a very brave hiker to attempt. The road continues to meander on to the small holds many hours' travel beyond, while a broader though rocky road curls around the mountain and disappears into the wilderness.


With Jeth's blessing given (or, to phrase it more like he would, a mutual agreement of the terms that would make the family's immediate move profitable for both involved parties) Mur'dah and Kalsuoth once more reappear over the snow covered slopes in the High Reaches mountains. Circling once (looking for crazy women on boards), the brown lands in his usual spot, turning in a circle with a sweep of his dark tail to clear more space before he lets his rider dismount. Equipped with snow shoes this time, Mur'dah straps them onto his feet, makes sure he has what he needs in his satchel, and starts to carefully make his way towards the wagons.

Raeleigh's had her bags packed and sitting inside near the door ever since her father returned from that interview at Xanadu Weyr. His repeated cautions that he might not even be found suitable for the position have fallen on deaf ears and thus not only do those bags remain there, but Raelii has formed the habit of searching the skies several times a day for signs of a shadowed brown dragon when she happens to be outside. Today does disappoint her! She's told her parents she'd be out hunting and so she is, she just happens at the moment to be stalking a brownrider. Yep, that's right. The girl was high in a snow-laden fir tree scanning the skies when Kalsuoth popped into view, so now all she has to do is make it to the ground…before…he…lands. Which is easier said than done. It's a tall tree! And Raelii is pretty much invisible thanks to her white, fir-trimmed snowsuit. Shhh, Kalsuoth, you see nothing, right? And her deft creeping through the branches is coincidental because it's become habit when hunting. Mur'dah's progress takes her right beneath where she's perched and.. what the heck? The snow is deep and soft below, so she just… drops in on him, like, literally ON him, probably! And she's giggling too much to say a proper hello.

Mur'dah yells, flails, falls, breaks his snow shoes…"Gaaaaaah!" And no, Kalsuoth didn't see a /thing/. Wink. The brown certainly seems amused, while Mur'dah flails around in the snow, grabbing at whatever it is that's just fallen on him. Grabbing, groping…whoops.

Whoops indeed! Raelii squeals and squirms, but continues her laughter just the same somewhere in there managing to gasp an enthusiastic, "Hi Mur'dah!" She should get off of him and let him breathe, really, so she wriggles off to one side. "Tell me you have good news? Pleasepleaselplease!" She grins, ever the optimist because she's sure he does! But then, she'll note his snowshoes. They… broke? Oops?

Mur'dah sits up, shaking snow from his hair with a mighty shake of his head, sending it flying and leaving his hair wild and soggy. "Raeleigh! You have /got/ to stop running into us!" he gasps, but his eyes are bright just the same, and there's no denying he's happy to see her. "What…did you fall…?" he asks, peering upwards and then leveling her with a /look/. "Or did you just jump on me?" News? He has no news. What news? He eyes his broken snowshoes. "I came prepared this time…" And she /broke/ them!

FUH-WHUMP! Mur'dah’s look up is just in time to catch that load of displaced by Raeleigh's spring from that snow-laden fir branch, which then sproinged up, smacked into a few neighbors and set off a cascade effect. Raelii, even though she ducked (she has quick reflexes), is completely obscured from view under the resultant snowpile, which is now quivering with her snickers. Her answer is muffled, "I sorta fell on purpose." (She totally jumped him).

If Mur'dah were less resiliant and less of a generally happy person, he'd be pretty peeved at this point. But his only reaction when the snow hits him is a sharp, muffled laugh and an "Oh, come ON!" in well humored indignation. Shaking himself free, he ditches his shoes to be found after the thaw and wiggles to the top of the snow pile before he starts digging for Raeleigh. "Raeleigh, c'mon. You want this news or not?" he teases.

Raeleigh is here to make him… happier? Or something! Forgive her, she's just bubbling with joie de vivre. News? He DOES have news! Raelii helps push the snow away and emerges, cheeks pinkened with the cold and eyes a-sparkle. "Yes!" she says with happy enthusiasm before she hesitates and asks him with a touch more decorum, "Is it good news?"

Mur'dah glances at the tree and back to her, lifting a brow. "I don't know if I should tell you," he says with false loftiness. "You /did/ just fall on me out of a /tree/."

Raeleigh pretends to huff, crossing her arms. "Tell me something I don't know!" She's watching him out of the corner of her eyes, though, perhaps a wee bit of uncertainty leaking through the edges. "Did I hurt you?" Her? She's fine. She's tough trader stock. She how tough she is? Teeny-tiny Raelii offers, "Next time I'll catch you?" Fair is far, right?

Mur'dah laughs out loud at that, reaching out to grab her hand and give her a tug after him as he goes trudging through the snow. "I'll tell you something you don't know in a minute! Soon as we get out of this freezing cold, and to your folks' place."

”Yiiiiii!” Up goes Raelii, hauled to her feet, floundering in the wake of Mur'dah. She awards his back an admiring look. He's strong! She turns and gives Kalsuoth a mittened wave: hello dragon, goodbye dragon! Freezing cold? Raelii is used to it, loves it, but… she considers the Xanadu dragonrider. He's likely not. And so she trundles after him, shaking the snow out of her hair and the fur of her parka. They're not so very far from that circular path dug between the snow-entrapped wagons and the door to her home, which she advises, "No need to knock, they're up." They ought to be. It's afternoon in the High Reaches.

Mur'dah glances at her over his shoulder. "I still think it's nice to knock." And he does, but then they're admitted inside without fuss and he stops just inside the door, trying to shake the snow off his clothing outside, so he doesn't track it inside. "Sir, ma'am," he greets when he's within, removing the envelope Jeth gave him, with the seal only slightly cracked - not broken. "I come with good news and a job offer from Xanadu Weyr." Flourish!

Yes, butbut… he's with her? Aww! He's such a gentleman! Raelii sings out, "Mamaaaaa, Papaaaaaa Rider Mur'dah is baaaaack." Doh, they can see that for themselves since the caravan is all one room. But she's enthusiastic, if not entirely practical. Lei is, of course, cooking and Chapar looks to be writing a letter. The boys are not present. He patiently smiles at his daughter, who is squealing, and beckons Mur'dah forward. He knows Raeleigh is going to follow. "Greetings, Boy," the huge man booms benevolently and holds out a meaty hand for the envelope.

Mur'dah clears his throat. Boy. But he doesn't correct Chapar. And he never, ever will. "Sir," he says, extending the envelope and turning to grin at Raeleigh. And wink. Did he just wink at her? Yeah, he totally winked at her. "I'm also here to help plan for the transport of…" gesture, "everything. Things you want taken by dragon, and things you want me to schedule to have shipped."

Chapar peers over his spectacles at Mur'dah. "Thank you," he says with a flick of a look between the boy and his daughter. Yeah, he caught that wink, but the man is far less intimidating than he appears. He says nothing, just silently reads the letter and document. This takes him some time, for the man is a businessman and thorough as well. When he's finished, he signs, calls Lei over to sign and then beckons his daughter over, points to a line and says, "Sign your name, child." Then to Mur'dah he hmms. "We'll pack the contents of the wagons we own but this van and the stock will need to go by sea." Their huge dray runners, their home. They can't leave those! "We've a month and a half yet until the turnover and then another besides until we're expected. We should be packed by then. The lass is ready to go now, however." She was born ready and hasn't stopped since, says the look shared with Mur'dah. Raelii, is barely containing her excitement, in fact, she's not containing it at all, first dancing over to hug her mother, then cover her father's cheeks with kisses.

Mur'dah looks around the wagon and nods. "Do you need packing supplies?" he offers. "Crates, materials to pack the more fragile things… When you have an idea of time, I can make sure passage on a ship is booked." Then he stops talking because Raeleigh is hopping around hugging and kissing people, and Mur'dah's brows lift. "You…sure you want to come ahead?" he asks. "I mean I can bring you back for visits." But. This is a manboy who has /never/ been without /some/ family member.

Chapar shakes his head. "Most of our belongings are crated for the trail already, but thanks, Boy. You're a thoughtful lad, you are." He nods about the ship. "We'll be in touch about that." Raeleigh is so excited, she's nearly a-wriggle. Mur'dah's question stops her in her tracks. "What? Yes! Are you kidding?!" She's nearly spluttering. "It's only two and a half months until they come too. I'll be okay." Can they go already? "It's evening in Xanadu, isn't it? I want to see it as we fly in."

Mur'dah blinks at Raeleigh, and then at Chapar. "What…I mean. You're ready to go, like…/now/ now?" He's rather stunned. How can she be ready now? Like…RIGHT now. She moves so damn fast! Probably because gravity is usually working against her, but still. That's when he snickers a little laugh and shrugs. "If you want to go now, we'll go now. It's evening, yeah, so you can see the lights and stuff. We'll fly over, you can see it all. Then…um. The dorms I guess."

Raeleigh's large brown eyes affix to Mur'dah's and blink widely. "Ye-e-e-e-s?" Of course she's ready! There's a snort from Chapar and he lifts a beefy arm points to the door where two large bundles patiently await departure. "Packed 'em the night I got back from Xanadu." Why is he finding the brownrider's beffudlement of amusing? Perhaps because he's going to be the one responsible for his daughter? Raelii darts back for one more hug and Chapar sweeps her into a bearhug. as he releases her he rumbles with obvious fondness, "Go 'wan, now. Behave yourself n' try not to scare them outta keeping me, hey?" Then sternly to Mur'dah, "Boy, you take care a' her for me." Lei comes forward to give her daughter a teary hug, sniffles a murmured thank you to Mur'dah and tries to smile. Raelii? Is all but vibrating with impatient excitement as she dances to the door and takes the smaller bag. Dorms? Chapar is on that with a stern eye turned on Mur'dah. "Better be!"

Mur'dah has… a girl now? That he's responsible for? And likes to jump out of trees? He swallows nervously and gives Chapar a faint smile. "Yes, sir," he says, before he's dipping his head respectfully and reaching for Raeleigh's other bag, hefting it easily over his shoulder. "Let's go, then," he murmurs to her, letting her go first.

"Good luck!" is muttered by Chapar to that faint smile. He's going to need it! Raeleigh scampers out without a backwards look but her parents remain in the door to see her off anyway. Chapar takes Lei's hand in his huge paw, the touch incredibly gentle. "It's less than three months. She'll be fine." But will they? Chell and Piel are nowhere to be seen. They're off doing something. But they knew this day would come. Most likely they're going to be thrilled their sister is finally gone because they're sick of hearing her chatter about going. Raelii… can't crawl lugging baggage like this and the snow is deep. Thankfully only thigh-deep but they've sort of plowed a path here. At least as far as the tree where she broke Mur'dah's snowshoes. Oops again?

Once they reach that tree, Mur'dah reaches out to try and take the other bag. "You break trail or should I?" he asks, implying that she'd be better at it but he's willing! "You're really this excited over going to Xanadu? Have…you ever traveled before? I mean," she's in a caravan, /duh/, "like, far away?"

Break trail? "I will!" Raelii sings out joyfully. She can set the pace this way! Her bag is handed over to Mur'dah and she moves ahead. It's not easy work, shuffling thigh-deep through snow but she's dressed for it. It's not her form-fitting red suit - this one's white but the cut is the same. She does stop two steps in to peer back at Mur'dah from under the floppy fringe of white fur trim on her parka. "Uh huh." She smiles, nods. Yes, she's excited, he can tell? "Uh uh, nope. Only on trail in the High Reaches. I've never been to the southern continent." And she's been snowbound all winter inside a wagon with no one for company but her parents and her brothers! Back to trail-breaking! She has to swing shoulders and hips to make forward momentum - it's a great workout anyway? So by the time they reach Kalsuoth, she's pink-cheeked and breathless. And only then does she seem to realize, "We're riding him back?" Doh, Raelii!

By the time they get to Kalsuoth, Mur'dah is pink-cheeked, breathless, and uncomfortable in his trousers. Setting the bags down against Kalsuoth's foreleg, the brownrider pauses to check the straps, facing his dragon and awful close. "Well yeah," he says with a crooked grin. "How else? You'll get to ride him between, and we'll fly over the weyr so you can see it all before we land and I find you a spot in the dorms."

How else indeed? Ha! Her mind had hop-skip-jumped ahead to Xanadu Weyr without thought about the journey there. Raeleigh looks up and up and up at Kalsuoth. "I've… never ridden on a dragon before," she says thoughtfully while those bags are being strapped in. Crashed into one, but that doesn't count even though she was flying when she did it. "So…" She, who climbs trees and zips down snow-covered peaks without a qualm, asks, "Do I just… climb up there? He won't think I'm rude?" Crash into was okay, apparently, go figure!

Mur'dah shakes his head, "Hold on one moment and I'll teach you," he reassures with a smile. Once the bags are strapped in, he stands beside his lifemate's side. "So you first get onto his foreleg, and he'll move beneath you to lift you up to the first handhold," he says, demonstrating. "Then you use these rungs to climb up here, and you buckle in. I've got a belt for you here," he says, lifting it, "that you'll put on and then use these," lift, "to buckle in. Easy! and no, he won't think you rude." Kalsuoth rumbles reassuringly too.

Raeleigh complies with Mur'dah's instructions, only flailing a little bit as the foreleg moves beneath her, and then makes a wild grab for either the first rung or Mur'dah, if he's there. Once she's steady, she has no trouble scooting nimbly up those rungs, her confidence aided by that rumble. She's ridden the huge draybeasts and so easily swings astride - where ever she's been pointed to - is that in front of or behind Mur'dah? She buckles in as instructed. She doesn't look nervous, just really, really excited as she offers the brown hide a 'thank you for not minding my boots on you' pat.

Mur'dah lets her settle behind him, since he prefers to ride in front. "You ready?" he asks her with a smile. "We'll be flying high for a moment and then we'll go between. Just count to five and we'll be in Xanadu." But he waits until she says she's ready before directing Kalsuoth to spring into the sky, the dark brown's wings a stark contrast against the white snow.

"Ready!" says Raelii with much enthusiasm. She's never done this, so how can she know? She thinks she is though, and even though it's the sky they are bound for doesn't think to hold on. She never does when she rides runners, so… "Let's go!" She bounces a little behind Mur'dah.

Mur'dah grins widely, reaching behind him to grip her knee tightly as he gives Kalsuoth the order to go between. Blackness and cold. Nothingness except for your own heart. And then mere seconds later, they emerge in the warm(er) skies of Xanadu, the moons gleaming off the water of the sea, the lights from the weyr glimmering between the trees like they were looking at the sky instead of at the ground. Mur'dah gives her knee another squeeze, and smiles. "Welcome to Xanadu."

Raeleigh's not holding onto anything lasts only as long as it take for Kalsuoth's wings to make their first downsweep. Then she yeeps and lunges for the rider in front of her, wrapping her arms about his waist. She catches a glimpse of her parents waving from the wagon doorway, but doesn't manage to peel her arm to wave back. Wide eyes take in the sharp snow-covered peaks but it's only a two second view then the black of Between she's heard about in harper lessons and her father's recent account. There's really no time to be afraid, and she blinks watery eyes made so by the wind of their passage through the sky so she can better see and also lift both arms to the sky to whoop at those moons. "This is awesome!"

Mur'dah grins, and Kalsuoth's night hide makes for an almost eerie flying experience, his body more felt than seen sometimes as he circles above the weyr. "Isn't it beautiful?" Mur'dah hollers over the wind, tilting his body and his face to try and get her to hear him over that rush of noise. "Do you want to fly a bit more?"

Raelii wants to push to her feet and put her arms out like a bird as she streaks underneath the stars; she tries, but the belt won't allow for it. But Mur'dah might feel her movement as she shifts from sitting to half-standing and see her arms outspread as she stretches them to embrace the night sky as he tilts to speak to her. Surely there's something this girl is afraid of? But it isn't this! "Yeah, it is!" she shouts back exuberantly, adding, "Could we?" She won't say no!

Mur'dah turns a bit and frowns when she's /moving/ back there - good Faranth she's insane. Or just a free spirit. He hasn't really decided yet. "Careful!" he yells reflexively, though he trusts in his belt and his straps. Kalsuoth flies straight at least, without any daring twists or turns. Those might come later. He does start to fly lower though, skimming the tree tops and then he's over the sea, dropping even lower. Low enough that the sea spray kicks up into their faces.

Raelii is definitely a free spirit! But he'll have to figure that out for himself. She tips her head back to the stars above them as they descend to skim the sea, laughs when the spray hits her face. Her legs complain and she sits down, wraps her arms back around Mur'dah and props a chin onto his shoulder to watch their forward progress. She has to cuddle against him to do it, does he mind? She will apologize later if he does. Right now she's caught up in the rush of flying, the wind singing in her ears, the moons dancing off the sparkling water flashing beneath them. "How do you stand it?!" she asks with her lips a fraction of an inch from his ear. Because this makes her want to laugh endlessly with sheer joy of it.

Mur'dah doesn't mind. Not one bit. Though can he feel Chapar's disapproving look? Probably. He laughs at Raelii's joy and question, giving his head a small shake. "I don't!" is his somewhat strange answer, but his voice is filled with just as much joy. Then he leans forward - not to evade her, but to urge Kalsuoth on. And the brown pushes forward with a push of his wings, and then he tilts up, soaring almost vertically and pushing them back into their straps. Mur'dah lets out a loud whoop of exhiliration and joy.

There are straps to hold her in, but at that near-vertical ascent Raelii's arms tighten about Mur'dah anyway. They're going almost straight up and all she can see besides the back of Mur'dah's head is the deep velvet sky, the stars scattered across it - and the moons. It feels like they're going to try to fly to them straight and her eyes widen with wonder. The hood to her parka falls back, allowing her caramel hair to stream behind her in the wake of their passage. Her voice joins Mur'dah's with a yodel. He doesn't stand it? His answer seems not the least bit strange to her. This is almost too much for her to contain. She's hooked.

Kalsuoth levels out and Mur'dah laughs breathlessly, turning to beam wide and free at Raelii. He doesn't say anything he just beams at her. This is his domain, his joy, his freedom. Turning slightly, Kalsuoth makes a large circuit before winging back towards the weyr to land neatly in the main clearing.

Whoa! They're up SO HIGH! Raelii's eyes widen at the depth, sweeping to take in the vastness of the sky and then her smile answers Mur'dah's. Yeah, she gets it - the freedom, the joy. Words are not needed and so as they plummet to lower altitudes to make that landing she just revels in it. The landing brings her to her new home, the one she's wanted to see for weeks now, so how can she feel bereft of the skies? Nevertheless the ground, when attained is bittersweet and she, with the stars overhead still shining in her brown eyes, breathes, "Thank you, both of you."

Mur'dah dismounts as well, and removes her bags from the straps, taking one in each hand and grinning at her. "You're welcome. Welcome again. My weyr is over there, in the forest," he says, pointing, "if you need to get a hold of me okay? Or, the easiest way is just to ask a rider to have their dragon talk to Kalsuoth. Let's get you in, some food maybe, and find you a spot in the dorms okay?" he asks with a grin. "And, yeah, you need anything, just let me know…" He's worried about her! He souldn't be, but he is.

Raelii turns to look towards the dark forest but she can't see the weyr for the trees - ha! She does nod, however. "Okay," she agrees with a chipper bounce to her voice to both contacting him and getting something to eat. It's nearly supper time back home and she didn't eat that yet. And she has no idea just how big the Weyr is, so probably figures she'll see him frequently. She cranes her neck to eye the cliffs looming over the clearing, very much the 'country gal in the big city' as she does so. He's worried about her? He probably has good reason to be! Who knows what she'll get into!


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