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Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest
The wooded areas closer to Xanadu Weyr represent a compromise between man and mother nature, but to the north and west, no such arrangements have been made. The deep woods between the Weyr and the mountains are less traveled, the wider paths fit for man and beast less present. The noises of mankind are barely audible here, brief ghosts on the wind, and the quiet thrum of forest life presses in on all sides. The snapping of a twig, a bird's cry, the low cadence of insects; all of these things seem louder. Closer. The deeper one moves into the trees, the more it becomes obvious that one passes through nature only at her allowance.

The cover of trees is more severe in this area of the wood and only occasional shafts of sunlight lance down through the canopy, the sky visible in brief patches. A rough path has been blazed back towards the Weyr. It does not appear to be a heavily frequented path, but the few who have chosen to pass through this area appear to use it more than other avenues available. Only the very foolish or the very experienced would ever wander far from the path.

Turnover eve sees some hiccups in the regular routine of the smooth functioning Weyr, but so far none that throw the candidate schedule too much. The late afternoon finds candidates freed from chores and lessons finished so they can have time to themselves. Stefyr isn't far along the path that is soon to become a non-path in the deeper forest, a ridiculously small (compared to the broad expanse of his back) daypack slung over a shoulder, a canteen dangling one of the straps. He walked a distance then paused, consulting something in his palm before looking in various directions in the green foliage. He shifts the small item and draws a folded page from one of the pockets in his cargo shorts. The summer day is hot elsewhere, but the thick canopy above brings a distinct relief from the worst of the heat. Still, Stefyr's choice of tank top under the day pack is still entirely appropriate to the weather even here and his boots with the tall socks tucked over the top edge are probably uncomfortable, but necessary for protection in a place this full of green and growing things and all the things that like to live with them.

It's highly unlikely that Khavro purposefully followed Stefyr out here, because the bigger candidate can probably hear the trader singing to himself as he walks along whatever he's decided is a path out here. Clearly he hasn't taken Stefyr's warnings of the forest very seriously. If there is anything out here to eat or commit crimes against him, he's probably lucky that Stefyr definitely won't leave him to suffer some horrible humiliation.

Khavro thinks he knows Stefyr. All from just casual interaction. It's like he thinks Stefyr is a good guy or something. Pft. Okay, yeah, Khavro's got him. The singing draws the big blond's attention and after a pencil makes a quick mark on the folded paper, pencil and paper go back in his pocket and he goes looking for the music maker. He stops short when he sees the former trader's lean frame walking down what is so not a path, Khavro, his brows going up then down, furrowing. He doesn't interrupt the song though. No, he folds his arms loosely across his chest and listens, head canted a little to one side, blue gaze tracking the other candidate's progress.

The candidate is singing a song that his family must have taught him, something about the open sky, freedom, and fearlessness that would probably sound better if Khavro didn't just hum parts of it. His inability to remember all the words, if that's what it is, might have to do with the flask he opens to take a drink from. It's when he takes a drink, though, that he trips over something, because this is definitely not a path and falls face first down into the foliage with a curse of surprise.

Stefyr is going to leave Khavro there to flounder. All on his own. He deserves no less. Just kidding. Stefyr isn't built to let even the deserving flounder. It's with no amount of subtle movement that the blond man's ground-eating strides bring him to the curly-haired man's side and down to a knee to check on him in just a couple of blinks of time. "Alright there, Khavro?" His tone is mostly even, with just a twinge of real concern in it, seeking to get a hand under the other man's arm to bring him up and probably inspect him for obvious signs of injury.

Khavro has done nothing to deserve the wrath of the forest, gasp. He does seem surprised, as in he even offers a vocal "ah!" when Stefyr appears beside him, though, pale green eyes wide for a moment until he recognizes his assailant/rescuer. "Faranth, I thought you were… not you. I'm fine, I'm fine," he says, pulling his arm away from the blond with a pacifying wave, but making no effort just yet to get himself back to his feet.

"Do you expect to be set upon in the forest by non-friendly forces?" Stefyr inquires blandly. Despite the brush off, he remains crouched beside the other candidate, reaching out to help, well, brush off Khavro from the bits of forest that have decided to love him extra by clinging to his shirt. He plucks a prickly leaf free of the fabric and tosses it to the side. "You're sure you're alright?" The former gardener's expression is mild, but that tone… still concerned. "Not lost?" Just in case. "I have water…?" He offers almost a little helpless in his attempt to help, not sure what would be of help to the other candidate.

"It could happen," counters Khavro, definitely reading something into the question. He reflexively tries to wave off the brushing down, too, but it only takes a moment for him to give up and accept the help. He glances up at the other candidate with those pale green eyes, and he really does look lost. Just not in the way Stefyr meant. "I'm fine." He's fine. Then, "Fuck!" and it's a frantic few moments of him looking for the flask that he dropped. And then, "Shard it all!" Because said flask is rather lighter now that the forest has had a sip.

Stefyr's only a little creepy in the intensity with which he watches Khavro. He listens with unnerving focus, too, but at least he's not dismissing things? He follows the other candidate with his gaze as he finds the flask and swears and all, and then he pushes back up to his feet, offering his hands back down to the other young man. "You don't need to be fine, you know." Just in case he didn't. A little more quietly comes a slow exhale and a shrug, "I'm not. Not today."

The trader might want to sit there feeling sorry for himself awhile longer, but it's no fun with an audience, so he accepts Stefyr's hands to help him back up to his feet instead. "Well, I am," says Khavro, stubbornly. Then something in him softens, like he belatedly realizes he's being a butt. "What's up with you, then? You come out here to let the darkness take you away?"

Broad shoulders rise and fall in a shrug, like Stefyr might not explain, or like maybe he, too, has realized Khavro's being a runner's rear, but is too polite to say so. One question is easier than the other and the blond flips his hands so Khavro can see the compass that has a loop trapped by two of the man's long digits so it stays safely in his palm. The other hand goes to the pocket in his shorts and produces a rough map. "I'm trying to learn the area better so I don't get lost again. Getting stuck out here for most of one night is time enough to make me want to learn better." Also, he almost died, but that's a story for another time. The larger man turns to start walking back the way he came. Perhaps he really isn't going to answer the harder question, but then, just over the sound of crunching foliage, his voice comes again, "Homesick. Turnover and all that." It's brief but it is illuminating, maybe.

He takes in all the offered details, readily, even if he's probably been steadier on his feet before in his life. "Are you lost now?" he has to wonder at the big blond. It takes Khavro a few moments to decide, or maybe think, to follow Stefyr, and when he does, "I'm sure you could've managed to go celebrate with them. The eggs aren't that far along yet." Minimal risk.

"Nope." Perhaps he means he's not lost. Perhaps he means he couldn't have managed. Either way, it's a pretty final word. Stefyr looks left, looks right, and then looks down to his compass. "The Weyr is that way," he gestures, accurately even, "if you want to head back." Evidently, he's not planning to travel back yet. "I'm going to exhaust myself out here," explains his plan. His hopeful plan. "Why didn't you go to your family? Or couldn't you find them?" In his mind, traders are probably mystical and unknowable. Farmers.

"I know where the—" he starts to say before it's obvious the other candidate is only trying to help. Khavro isn't used to people being so straight-forward, evidently, and Stefyr is taking some getting used to. "They don't want me," he says so casually of his family that it's a wonder he's ever had a feeling at all. "There's are better ways to exhaust yourself than trudging around a dirty forest, you know." Drinking your way through a forest is far superior, apparently.

Straight-forward is the name of the game with Stefyr (today, anyway). "Why not?" It's simple inquiry and not accusing in the slightest. "I like dirty forests, when it's not night and I'm not hopelessly lost with a dying flashlight." The blond gives a glance around the trees and makes a little gesture as if to let their surroundings speak for themselves that neither of these items are a pressing problem. "At home, there's a bonfire on turnover. A party. Lots of food. Drink. Neighbors." That last is an ever so slightly strangled admission and Stefyr's Adam's apple bobs before he's moving again in the forest, looking down at his compass. He only move about ten paces forward and then looks around, as if trying to memorize his surroundings.

"Because," is the only answer Khavro gives. They're talking about you, Stefyr, geez. The trader takes a beat to follow the farmer, again, but follow he does. Stefyr is better company than no one. "You don't miss your family at all, do you!" It's definitely an accusation, but not an accusatory sort. Good-natured ribbing. Anything to keep the other man engaged, perhaps.

N'on meanders into the deep forest, from the forest.
N'on has arrived.

It's late afternoon on turnover eve. There's probably plenty of people in the Weyr having private celebrations or attending parties or whatever else people of Xanadu like to do for Turnover. It's a beautiful summer day outside of the forest, if on the hot side. In the deep forest, the air is cooler if not exactly cool, and the canopy of trees is a somewhat popular retreat, with its present population of two. Stefyr in his cargo shorts and tank top, a ridiculously small daypack slung over one shoulder with its attached canteen looks sort of ready for a trek in the woods though the two candidates aren't too far into the deeper forest off the more defined paths of the less deep forest. It can be said that the big blond is fairly even tempered. He's been faced with so many things that really should find a button or ten in his time since arriving at the Weyr, but little has ruffled his feathers beyond blushes or stammers. Now, a half-growl escapes him and he turns on the leaner, shorter candidate, strong hands finding purchase in Khavro's shirt. "I miss my family a shell 'ov a lot more than you do, trader." So, this is what Stefyr looks like pissed. Actually, he's kind of fierce, really, biceps flexed impressively and a snarl just barely not finding voice.

Surely Khavro has been manhandled enough to know when he's pushed someone just a liiiittle too far. His own hands go up and his face reflexively turns away, all passive and non-threatening in a very practiced sort of way. "Hey now, friend, that's— it's not what I was getting at, okay? I didn't mean nothing bad. And there's no family-missing competition here. Just thought there might be something you miss more. Some sexy little thing, I bet. I can imagine your type. Basically you but a girl?" Well, he tried being good before kind of veering off track.

The cool thing about a forest is that you can't be a creeper if there's no one to see you creep. The not-so-cool thing about Candidates is that they ruin everything. THANKS GUYS. N'on is just innocently making his way through the shady and (relatively) cool wilderness when voices catch his attention and he veers off in that direction. As he approaches and the Stefyr/Khavro situation becomes apparent, he stands for just a moment just stunned and staring. Then, when he remembers himself, he puts his fingers to his lips and emits the loudest whistle. One of those drill-into-your-head-through-the-ears, stop-an-angry-wher-in-its-tracks whistles.

Man, it's like Khavro is eerily good about playing leap frog with the buttons no one suspected Stefyr even had. "SHUT. UP." Pissed Stefyr is pissed, the words ground through clenched teeth, but at least his fists only clench tighter into the material and he hasn't yet moved to do something more dire than LOVINGLY GRIP his fellow candidate's clothing. And before more can happen there's that ear-splitting, ice pick stabbing the brain whistle and the presence of someone else, anyone else, as much as the whistle itself has the big blond letting go of Khavro's shirt and backing off three steps. His face is flushed even before he turns his head and blue eyes go searching for the source of the whistle, and then the shade deepens upon finding N'on. His fists clench and unclench at his sides, not breaking the compass whose loop is wrapped around two of his fingers on one hand. He takes a moment to compose himself, one hand reaching to shrug the strap of his silly-small pack and then he takes the compass and tucks it into a pocket before angling his body toward the greenrider and makes the sign for, "Sorry." At first it's just the sign and no voice, but then takes a slow and tries-to-be-calming breath and looks to the former trader, "Sorry," is offered aloud, although he sounds like maybe he means it less than the heartfelt way he signed to N'on. He does make the sign with his verbal word. "Yes, there was a girl," is clipped and signed in brisk, frustrated movements. "Don't talk about her, either," is added, signs and all - he's really improved - and then he adds a grudging, "Please." Then, even more, "Today is shit for me." Basically, don't poke the wildcat, please and thank you.

Khavro was leaning far enough away from Stefyr that, when he's released, he falls back onto his butt. It's really hard to keep your feet in the forest, obviously. The eardrum splitting whistle is enough that he barely notices the fell, granted, and he curses in protest. But it also keeps him from poking the bear again, and he seems to realize it. At least he's a self-aware jerk. "Okay. Okay." Like he thinks he won't be believed as he hefts himself back up to his feet. "I'm sorry," he says to everyone at large, almost certainly only because there's an Adult to answer to now.

N'on doesn't seem incredibly sympathetic to the shittiness of Stefyr's day. In fact, he signs a curt, "Stop flapping your hands at me." At least, that's the best translation. It's more like the sign for 'stop' followed by literal flapping of hands. "Not deaf. Not amused." The stern attitude is very unlike him, and there's even a tinge of annoyance coloring his face as he continues. He points sharply at Stefyr, then to Khavro. "Translate. Why fighting?"

"Sorry," is offered to N'on, verbally only this time. His gesture is just a gesture this time, not a sign. It's not quite a shrug. It's like it tried to be a shrug but he couldn't get his hands to come up far enough, so it ends up a helpless gesture down by his waist. "The Harper has me practice speaking and signing at once to make sure I'm saying what I think I'm saying." So, a learned habit then. It makes his cheeks ruddier in his continued embarrassment in any case. He takes a breath and looks to Khavro, "He wants me to translate. He wants to know why we're fighting." And Stefyr could go on to answer, only he seems to have all the fight of any kind taken right out of him." It could be said that the blond isn't amused, either. He's looking down at his feet until he seems to realize that he needs to look up, at N'on, in case there's more to translate.

Brushing off the dirt from his pants, Khavro glances between N'on's hands and Stefyr. And then his brows are furrowing at the other candidate for leaving him to explain what was obviously not his fault. "We— I was just trying to have a civil conversation with Stefyr here and he… he attacked me. I can't even imagine what set him off." Khavro probably could have been some dramatic actor, honestly, because he really sells how emotional and traumatic this has all been for him.

N'on arches an eyebrow at Khavro. Is he buying it? It certainly doesn't look like he's buying it. He gives the teen an uncomfortably long, silent stare. Then, he mercifully turns his gaze back on Stefyr. His next gesture is not a sign, insomuch as it's the universal symbol for turning the conversation back over to another person. He crosses his arms and waits for Stefyr to offer his side.

Stefyr's cheeks take on an even deeper flush at Khavro's explanation, his eyes dropping briefly away from N'on. He probably would love nothing more than to find a large body of very cold water to go jump into and possibly never surface again. His eyes come back to the greenrider in time to catch the gesture. His chest rises and falls in a slow intake of breath. "I lost my temper." Which never happens. "I grabbed his shirt. I just wanted-" He hesitates, probably trying to think through what it was he actually thought he could accomplish and ends up with a helpless shrug. "I didn't want to hear what he was saying, things which shouldn't have bothered me," he'll give Khavro that much protection. "It just did, today. Because of why I left home. Because of why I'm not home now." His hands, useless as they are to defend him, find their way into his pockets. He definitely is internally beating himself up, that much is plain on his troubled expression.

Khavro stares back at N'on as well as he can, which probably isn't as well as he could if he had any sort of righteousness to back him up, stubborn more than challenging. But he has at least enough sense not to keep digging a hole for himself when Stefyr presents his side of the scuffle, and he keeps his mouth shut for now.

N'on doesn't give even the slightest sign of sympathy. See this? This is his Grown Up Face! He lets the silence linger for what probably feels an interminable several moments. Finally, he turns to Khavro, and signs an abrupt message. "Double chores tomorrow." It's up to Stefyr to communicate it accurately, but he seems pretty confident that Stef wouldn't dare. Speaking of Stefyr, N'on looks to him and continues, "You too. See the Harper for your assignment." He glances between the two of them, and adds, "Apologize." Then he points to both young men, clarifying that he means both of them.

"N'on says, 'Double chores tomorrow,'" Stefyr translates with dutiful accuracy. "For both of us. And we have to apologize." This is something that the big blond doesn't seem to have any compunction about doing. He looks levelly at Khavro, shoulders squared, but face still faintly flushed. "I'm sorry I lost my temper and grabbed you. It was stupid. I was stupid. Sorry." See? A real apology. FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE, KHAVRO AND YOU MAY YET LIVE THROUGH THIS. NO PRESSURE.

Oh, Khavro looks like he wants to protest that. Even if he's not completely innocent, he didn't actually touch the other candidate, so obviously he has some moral high ground that should mean fewer chores. But for all his face looks like he doesn't want to, he says, "I'm sorry. That I… antagonized you." Accidentally and then on purpose. "I didn't mean to make it worse. Your day." That seems genuine enough.

N'on looks rather sternly between Khavro and Stefyr, but he gives a slow nod as the apologies are given. Stefyr gets a particularly stern look, and a signed, "Not stupid. Angry. Bad decisions." Apparently there's a difference. But he doesn't linger to try to explain them. Instead, he grabs the shoulder of each of them, one in each hand, and gives them an oh-so-gentle push back toward the weyr. Apparently he's not going to leave them alone in the forest to continue what they started. Go figure.

Stefyr gives a slow nod of his own in acceptance of Khavro's words before looking back to N'on. The signing isn't translated aloud, but it does make him wilt a little more. Probably because the truth is a worse thing to face than simple stupidity. He doesn't resist the touch of the smaller man, going with the push with only one pained look back over his shoulder at the greenrider before he's moving with long strides back toward the Weyr.

The trader has a grumble for not being trusted to go about his business. But other than shaking off that push toward the Weyr, more for effect than effectiveness, Khavro falls into step and heads purposefully in the right direction. He probably won't even trip on anything now that he has to pay attention to where he's going.

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