Plague Bringer

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.

NIGHT. AND THE SPIRIT OF LIFE. CALLLLLING OH-OH-EE-OH. MAMELA. No? No Lion King? FINE. But it is night, and Ila'den is no stranger to the quiet found beneath a hundred thousand stars, or the solitude of an abandoned beach. It's where he comes for a self-imposed purdah, an isolation the bronzerider seeks when nightmares rend his ability to sleep with the sharp clarity of memories he would sooner forget. So maybe he looks like he doesn't belong; maybe even the fact that he's dressed fully in riding leathers (despite Xanadu's summer night being warm enough to warrant the removal of so damn many layers) does little to lend credence to the fact that he's a dragonrider in the absence of a knot. Maybe there's no redemption to be found in an eyepatch politely blocking the ruination of one eye from view, or the hair that still manages to look unruly despite the fact that it's not short enough to defy gravity so daringly anymore. Even the way he walks is more predatory than casual, a stalking gait that's ruined only by the hint of a limp every other step. BECAUSE THIS MAN HAS SEEN SOME THINGS, TEJRA. AND RIGHT NOW? Right now he is stopping what he's doing to open up his jacket and talk to something inside of one of his pockets. Listen. Maybe he's just crazy. Maybe you should run.

In the light of the moons, Tejra is a wraith. Her pale skin practically glows and the light fabric of the dress cinched only at the base of her ribs flows, caught in the pull of not only wind, but gravity. She's dancing. On the empty beach. Her toe catches sand and sprays it in an arc, her bare arms climb toward the sky, weaving patterns with her hand. Even the unevenness of the sand under her bare foot cannot make the dancer fall as she leans into a perfectly balanced pose, her leg extended behind her. There's no music but the steady sound of the water and the other harmonies of the night, but that doesn't seem to matter. Weirdly, the dance fits the space, the light, the mood. At least until someone else is there to possibly disagree. It's during a twist that she catches sight of the man in his riding leathers, with his predatory walk and his— whatever's in his pocket. She comes to a graceful stop, the pose practically part of the dance until she straightens, one hand reaching up to tuck a loosened coppery-red strand behind her ear and straighten her dress a little. She glances back up the beach and pushes onto her toes. Maybe she does think of running, but she has no shoes, so she'll have to stay, for now. "Beautiful night, isn't it?" She offers to the darkness as much as the dark man that approaches. She doesn't sound the least tired and there's something soft and musical to the quality of her voice, but the tone is guarded; she's not completely oblivious to the dangers of being alone on a beach in the middle of the night. But this is a Weyr. It ought to be safe… right?

There is something indecent in bearing witness to the movement of a body crafting such carefully practiced prose, as if Ila'den is a heretic come to break the vows he'd made to his God in order to watch a druid in ancient ritual, marking the thinning of veils on Samhain. But religions do not exist on Pern and, even if they did, R'hyn would be the deity to whom Ila'den would devote his life in worship. Still, something feels wrong about it, like he shouldn't be here, like he shouldn't see this, like there's something intimate and private in a language only dancers know. Maybe that's why the former renegade stills, why he turns his attention to whatever that is in his pocket, why it takes him an uncomfortably long, long time to look up when Tejra's voice beckons him and actually see her. That single grey eye focuses — sharp, like a predator spotting prey, making note of every movement as if that ease in his own poise is mere deception, a cover up to the fact that he's waiting to spring a trap. BUT DON'T WORRY, TEJRA. THERE ARE NO TRAPS HERE, just a wayward bronzerider and a harper meeting at the worst possible time. "I suppose that depends," comes Ila'den's voice, raspy and husky, pitched low, poised right at the precipice of becoming a growl, "on what you mean. The skies are clear though, aye." … Seriously, Ila'den? THAT'S IT? "And it is quiet." … Sigh. You know what? Just punch him and run. Nobody would blame you.

She would, she really would. Except, she laughs? It's not even the nervous kind of wheezing laughter that precedes something as desperate as a creature this willowy (though strong as dancers must be) punching a large one-eyed bronzerider and fleeing for her life. No, her laugh is half-breathless, it's light like the tinkling of bells. There's something indecent about it, too intimate, too free. "How many meanings for beauty do you know that would apply?" It's a real question. And there goes the young thing, walking toward Ila'den like the know each other. Like this isn't a super creepy and very weird introduction to one another and a very weird time and place. It turns out though, as she stops still some distance from him, though rather more comfortably conversational, that she's there for her sandals, which she drops into almost the lowest of low curtseys, right down to a crouch to sweep up on two elegant fingers through their straps before she stands again.

"None." BECAUSE THE NIGHT IS DARK AND FULL OF TERRORS, TEJRA. But he doesn't elaborate; it's just another husky rasp, delivered stark and depthless, as if Ila'den finds no real beauty in the night's moons, no real joy in the watchful presence of a thousand, glittering stars. And Ila'den watches, keeps that grey eye trained on Tejra as she approaches, yielding no ground, maintaining that deceptive ease in his posture even as she sinks into a curtsey and retrieves her sandals in one elegant sweep of her fingers. It's very likely that Ila'den would have left the conversation there — and he does, in a way. There's a pathetic, desperate kind of mewling that comes, quite suddenly, from his pocket. And Ila'den? Ila'den drops his gaze only then, to pull his jacket carefully from his body and reach in to one of those pockets again, to produce a NAKED KITTEN that cries all the harder for being exposed before Ila'den brings it to rest against his chest, the calloused digits of one hand slowly stroking between ENORMOUS GREMLIN EARS to quiet it. "And what of you?" he asks now, slowly bringing his attention back to Tejra. "What meaning do you apply?" Because it's only fair, right? Right.

Who knew of all the things about this night and this unexpected meeting, the thing to -briefly- steal Tejra's composure is the sudden appearance of a naked kitten. "What is that?" escapes her lips (what is that, really if not so extreme in her emphasis) without her bidding and there's the look of a swallowed curse in her expression before it is suddenly transformed to its usual, natural-appearing serenity. Control is important to Tejra. Maybe? Self-control only, possibly. In any case, it's some kind of slip. As though to gloss over it, she reaches a hand to re-tuck that stubborn strand of hair behind her ear. "One could be pedantic, I suppose, and drone on about the glories of the moon and stars, the darkness of the night, the sound of the water and so on." It doesn't sound like Tej is very interested in any of those things, not really. "I meant the solitude. The freedom. The air. There's a lot of space here. It's easy to not feel…" only she trails off, a not-quite smile of some private thought touches her lips and she rolls her shoulders in dismissal (and possibly also to stretch a little). She does step a little close to squint at the cat, and then the man. "Is that a cat?" IS IT? IS HE SURE?

What is that? Ila'den drops his gaze to the kitten, tilting his chin that he might see those TINY EYES staring up at him, that mewling starting immediately once eye contact is made and one tiny paw reaches up, claws extended, as if it means to try and pull the former renegade's face DOWN HERE, PLS AND ITTY BITTY KITTY THANK YOUS. "Anything?" Ila'den finishes for her, a question that he probably doesn't actually want the answer to, not if the way he rumbles low, husky laughter immediately after says anything. And then he's dropping his cheek to nuzzles the kitten, receiving a bunt or five of his own as tiny claws try to CATCH and an itty bitty tongue attempts to GROOM. "This," comes with a hint more growl, an agitation, a hint of burr that speaks to some loss of control because he isn't schooling it out of his voice, "is Kappa," he finally answers after the second inquisition. "I am not sure if he is a cat or something conjured from a nightmare to ensure that I never sleep again." But that grey jumps back to Tejra and, after only a moment of hesitation, the bronzerider is cupping that tiny kitten in both of his hands and extending him out for Tejra. This, of course, draws more mewling from the tiny thing as it tries to shift about and get back to THE GREATER WARMTH. OBJECTION.

Tejra and Ila'den might just become besties. Like, right now, because he doesn't want her answer and she merely shrugs in answer to his suggestion. Maybe. She doesn't seem any more bothered by his laughter than he was by hers, but she does seem riveted (perhaps not in a good way) on that cat - that supposed cat. Only one slender brow arches at the two options the rider presents for species and she dares a half-step closer to look. She does not reach to touch it, but does inquire, "Is it safe? Every Harper learns the Ballad of Moreta's ride and I'm sure I read somewhere that that Plague was started by some unknown creature pulled to shore and shown off." She glances up to Ila'den, a second brow joining the first. "Might it be one of those?" A PLAGUE RIDER. BRINGER OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. OF CATACLYSMIC DOOM.

"Now, there's a thought." There's more of that husky, rumbling, short-lived laughter that starts somewhere in his chest and dies in his throat, a hint of canines in the sideways pull of his lips. "Aye, well. It's kind of cute if you squint at it," which Ila'den demonstrates, holding the kitten up to eye-level and narrowing his gaze at it. "Some would think that's a good enough reason to tempt plagues and death." But Kappa is held out only a moment longer, and whether Tejra gives up on noble notions of protecting herself (AND POSSIBLY THE WEYR) from plague, Ila'den is pulling him back into the warmth of his chest, making a soft noise in his throat when that tiny face starts nuzzling in against his shirt in search of some FOOD. HE REQUIRES IT. FEED HIM, ILA. "But given that my weyrmate is still alive, I doubt it's grown into its powers yet. I think you're safe." A beat. "For now." But then he's being ABRUPT AND RUDE, shifting to move forward, to walk around her without any real indication of what he's doing until he says, "Be mindful of your surroundings, little bird. Enjoy your night." And then he's just walking away, just like that. No introductions, no further KITTEN CONVERSATIONS, no PETTINGS, nothing. Just… a grumpy man with a kitten, stalking his way further and further across the sands, either intent on home or going somewhere more quiet.

The dancer has a profound stillness, deeper somehow than the average person. It's not so much that she freezes as that she becomes an expression of motionless, a statue, no less graceful while still than she is when she moves or dances. Tejra doesn't flinch when he goes around her, but she does pivot and had he any intentions, her step would take her a step back away from him. She might have done the same had anyone passed her that way, in the middle of the night, on a deserted beach. But it might be that the cat is what has her taking that step back rather than just pivoting. Disconcerting men is apparently not an issue; disconcerting cats… well. That's something else. "Sweet nightmares," she wishes to his back, her tone some strange combination of humor and sincerity. He is the one who owns the cat to begin with after all.

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