Roads to Regret

Xanadu Weyr - Glade
Surrounded by majestic trees with their boughs spread outward in the ovalesque clearing so as to create a gentle filtering of the light on the glade floor, this little area of paradise located in the depths of the forest that surrounds Xanadu Weyr makes its debut. Tiny flowers with their upturned pistles of yellow, pink, red and blue scatter here and there, some of them with definitive petals that glisten in what light is supplied, and others appearing like tiny balls of fuzz or fluff, with stamen so fine that to distinguish between themselves and the petals is nearly impossible. Their leaves are of all different shapes and sizes, some coming up to shield the blooms during the day and thus only allowing their beauty to be seen at night.
One thing that makes this area of the weyr so popular with the residents and riders would be the small moon pool that is situated directly center of the glade where even the longest of the tree limbs cannot reach. The water is smooth as glass, as the trees cause such a wind break that nothing ever disturbs it. The reflection of the moonlight at night confuses the flowers around it, so they sleep all day, and then their magnificent blooms open during the night. Concrete benches have been situated about the pool for people to sit and enjoy these rare occurances in relaxation.

Summer has well and fully come to Xanadu Weyr, endless warm days that offer no shortage of time in the bright light to fully view the world and take in its splendor. The heat of the day feels too much like a kiln, forcing finality where there was an endless possibility and burning away any chance for reversal. It is for all of these reasons Evi has found herself out as the day closes, settled with a pile of paperwork latched to a violet clipboard on her lap, a lantern placed near her hip casting light enough to work by. The greenrider's outfit for once is subdued, a midnight blue skirt that falls in crisp pleats to her ankles, and a long sleeve maroon turtleneck. Sitting with stiff repose, there's no flourish to each turn of the page, eyes hollow and hair up in a messy bun. Gone are the elaborate braids, and there's a pallid tightness to her skin, jawline starkly visible with the tight line of her mouth in a saturine grimace. Her body's lines broadcast the mood quickly, tight angles at her knees and hips, board like a doll that has been placed here and is waiting for a force to reach down and reposition it. The only sign that she's alive is the occasional blink and scrawl of pen upon paper. There are probably happier tombs.

D'lei arrives from the forestward direction, following a path that's perhaps more game-trail than anything intend for human feet to tread. Still, it leads him here, for even the wild beasts of the woods can enjoy a peaceful place to drink and rest their weary heads. Today, though… well. It may be quiet, save for the scritch of pen on page, but the scene laid forth to his gaze is not one of relaxation nor calm, and there's very little heart-salving to be managed despite the general beauty of the location. Perhaps some things are just too much to ask of mere scenery. Given the change in Evi's appearance, perhaps D'lei is even the less scruffy one now… though it might depend on just what details are looked for, because while he's upgraded his clothes to ones better-made and less-patched and given himself the benefit of soaking-pools and brushes, he's not that much different than he was at their first meeting. He takes a moment to observe her, amidst his quiet entrance, and then the corner of his mouth quirks to the side as he shifts into motion. D'lei approaches without asking, making his way to the side of her opposite that lantern and seating himself beside her - not so close as to be intrusive, but definitely close enough to be clear that he's joining her poolside despite the lack of invitation or comment.

Mind settled deep within the recesses of contemplation. The approach is barely noticed until the vagrant man is suddenly next to her, flinching sideways and pulling away as her mind rapidly assesses the threat level of this intruder on her brooding. Tucking the arm nearest the nameless person towards herself, she enlarges the gulf between them unnecessarily while simultaneously guarding that side of her body with a hand wrapped around her upper chest. Leaning over that arm, there are two long glances sent his way, taking in every speck of change and breathing falling out of the practiced calm that takes everything to maintain. A wounded animal trying to decide if this new predator has come to finish her off, deciding what kind of fight she might mount, if mounting a defense is worth it. Either he is no threat, or she's done fighting because she bends back to her pages, checking off several boxes and gasping in the air with her mouth closed in an attempt to press everything back down. She doesn't know him; why he's come to watch her private agony is beyond her. Curling around the clipboard, she palms the pen and grips in, "I was- j-just, going." Quiet, barely a whisper of sound that claws from a raw throat, this could be an entirely different person by voice alone.

For all his imposition of himself into the fringes of her space, D'lei doesn't seem to stare at Evi. Oh, he's aware of her, certainly; there's the occasional glance when she moves, but for the most part, he seems like he's looking across the pool, studying the forest beyond it. His posture is a casual one, relaxed, and he keeps his quiet up until Evi speaks. Even then, D'lei doesn't look directly at her; perhaps he's trying to avoid a challenge, or perhaps he's giving her some semblance of privacy despite having intruded his company. "Were you?" he asks, his voice gentle but with a trace of wryness, and then he lets out a soft exhale. "Me, I'd have thought you looked like someone without any place left where they wanted to go."

Well, he is imposing, the quick flip of her gaze onto his person has her eyes raking over him with expert proficiency, picking him clean with a sour look that does not fit with who she was in the living caverns a lifetime ago. Scooting over, she presses the lantern toward the edge of the bench, gathers her skirt, and moves into its occupied place. "What even-." Harsh words tongued barbing itself for battle as her voice falters, and she shakes her head back and forth to reject his words. "You don't even live here." Harsh words, meant to sting, spit towards him without an ounce of vitriol yet placed precisely enough to be an aimed blow. Or it would seem if she had any idea who he was. She doesn't. Focusing on the pool before them, she watches the tranquil water before saying. "Nei is home, it;s where she is." Avoiding the subject finely, chest barely moving to prevent the sobbing that might erupt should she give the fire any fuel. "You.. wouldn't know." Looking for a knot again before turning back with a full frown, unable or unwilling to hide it from this person.

D'lei tilts his head to the side, turning it slightly toward Evi to regard her as she starts, stops, denies his words and that he even belongs here. His lips quirk up at the corners, even as his chin dips slightly, and as Evi stares out at the water he watches her. Perhaps she's hoping to steal some of its tranquility for her face, or perhaps she's only looking at it as a contrast to her current emotional state. Either way… well. He nods slightly for her statement about Nei and home, something that could pass for mere acceptance but for which he likely - as a fellow dragonrider, for all she's unaware of it - also has a deeper understanding. This time, when Evi looks back to him, he doesn't look away, letting her note his regard and see his expression. It's a fairly calm one, despite those harsh words, one with traces of sympathy and regrets but quiet in comparison to Evi's turmoil. "No, I suppose I wouldn't," D'lei answers her, words coming easily enough, and he turns his head back, looking out again at the water. There's still no knot on his shoulder, despite those improved garments; no sign of where he does belong or what he's supposed to be doing instead of hassling grieving greenriders. "It's hard to know what someone's feeling, really." A faint grimace, wry as he looks out across the water. "Even if they tell you, it's still just words, and those can get misunderstood in all sorts of ways."

The quirk of lips is caught out of the corner of her eye, interrupting the chain of thoughts deeper than any pool. Only broken notes remain where once there was a symphony of movement, laughter, and light have no place where the greenrider is now. As Amber eyes meet murky green, the lack of response triggers a frustrated hiss through clenched teeth. It'd be easy to assume Neifeth is the only one with teeth in the family, but in her current state, she's allowed her dragon's base emotions to eclipse sensibility. Anger, at least, keeps her moving forward. Watching his face for a long moment, she softens and blinks with a deep clearing breath, and the look of silent startle takes over for the glower. Staring, she's staring at him, trying to read between the words, a foreign language written all over a man she does not know. After he's done speaking, she gathers her knees up to her chest, clipboard gently placed under the bench. Wrapping both arms around her knees, her chin finds purchase between them, and silence reigns supreme long enough it may seem she will not be speaking again. Until, she says, with a quiet crack. "I mean I guess. No one listens, even when the words matter. Why bother using them. Why are you here?" Unable to keep herself from poking at him, the harshness and sass similar to a green Garouth encountered in the meadow.

D'lei seems content to keep that silence, to not interrupt or disturb it as it stretches on long enough that it might seem to be an end… and yet he doesn't seem surprised when Evi speaks again, either. He nods, acknowledging that painful fact that sometimes it seems that nobody listens, that way in which the most important words are ignored - or misinterpreted - maybe willfully… and yet despite that plaint, Evi keeps using them, even after stating their uselessness, wondering why to even bother. Despite all that - or maybe because of it, because it doesn't even matter so why not - she asks him a question… well, maybe there's more than one question there, but one at least is more than rhetorical, is actually directed at D'lei. "Mmh," he replies, acknowledging, and tilts his head back a bit, chin lifting as his gaze follows the trees upward and he considers how to answer. "Coincidence, I suppose. I don't really have a reason to be here." Just out wandering, and… D'lei turns his head, looks back to Evi. "Does it matter?"

The worthless words to a person with no name, with no title, no reason for being here on her private stone island of despair. With legs tucked up for safety, it seems she's forgotten how to swim and is content to watch the world around them with the same longing pain of a castaway. If nothing you say matters, then you can practically say anything. This idea falls into her head, and there's a huff that almost wanted to be laughter, but it could find no humor to bolster it past a scoff. The questions no sooner leave her lips, then they seem to have no value; she listens to his answers with little concern for the response until the last words are uttered, and she raises both shoulders to envelop her ears. "Only you can decide that. Maybe who we are changes, maybe how much we matter does too." A whine pierces the armor she's wrapped her mind in, as surely as she's enveloped in the long body of the skirt. "I- besides Nei, I do not have a reason to be here either." This can't be true; he's seen her 8000 family members. Yet it does not ring as a falsehood, but instead a view into her mind. "Why stay?" Said aloud but with no direction, quiet enough to ignore.

"Mmh." Is D'lei the one who makes that choice, or Evi? Though she's shown sufficient disdain to make her answer - at least, in many of these moments - entirely clear. "Maybe it's not as simple as that." Something can matter and not matter, be worthless and still have value. Maybe it doesn't matter, but maybe that's not actually a reason to stop talking. He nods softly, a small motion to acknowledge her admission, the truth of it evinced in tone even if it is - at the same time - in some ways a lie. Maybe it can be both, because maybe it's not that simple. "I've stayed… well. Because of hope. Because of guilt. Because I was too stubborn to give up." A quirk of his lips, wry in admission of foolishness. "And… I've left, because I was too tired. Because I didn't want it." A pause, just a half-beat of quiet, and then he adds, "Because I wanted it too much."

Unable to face walking, to face deciding where she is going next, the night is dark and full of terrors, and Evi is trapped here in her homemade tent of pleats. Allowing her face to turn so she can watch him, though often enough, her gaze is unfocused and glassy, and there's no eye contact. With all of his words, there's the whisper of a smile, the corner of her mouth turning up, and then an eye roll. "Crime life getting you down?" Sass, there's still fire beneath all the self-loathing. "Guilt-." The word catches in her throat, stabbing into the weak spot in her abdomen, and reflexively she pulls herself closer to try and fill that gap up before it swallows whatever she has left. "I- I know." Tracing the line of his jaw, hyperfocused on the lips where the words flow, "You can give up, you know. I can't, Nei won't allow it. She barely allows me to do this." Eyes roving up, down, all around to indicate the current setting. "Nothing is right, staying, going, all roads are wrong." Bitter and angry, the hurt bubbling up again before she can stifle it.

Ah, the life of a vagrant? D'lei has a crooked smile and a shrug for Evi's conclusions about the life he must lead, probably because he doesn't want to admit anything that might link him to his alleged wrongdoings. Guilt is a terrible thing! Even the thought of it - the utterance of that - is enough to pain Evi, to draw her in around the stab-wound to her soul that it creates. D'lei tilts his head slightly to the side, like a canine's ear-cock to listen as Evi speaks. "You always give up something," he says, words a bit softer now. "Stay or go, you give something up. You lose what's on the road you don't take." He grimaces faintly. "Sometimes what you want is spread across all the roads… but you can't have them all." D'lei lets out a breath, starts to turn away, then pauses. "Some people will just not take any road, but… you've got Nei." And - or so it seems to him - Evi will be forced to keep moving - somehow, to somewhere - rather than just wallowing in her misery - giving up - as she might otherwise do.

Frowning at the crooked man before her, Evi has traveled far beyond the banks of her own caring, and the S.S Indifference has her in uncharted waters. Even if giving up isn't an option, Evi has chosen to yield to the emotions and allow herself to feel them. Much to the grievance of her lifemate who'd be willing to light all of her exes stuff on fire in a ritual and be done with it. She never even liked him, anyway. But asking her to like someone seemed too tall of an order. A faint breeze ripples the water, marring the perfect glass surface. "I wish I had never done it. This road is terrible, but the other one would have been worse. At least, somehow." Releasing her legs, she straightens up and finds that kernel of power is a gift from her lifemate —the advantage of knowing the way forward, even when it sucks. "If you ever um, want to, yu know, give up your life of crime. I do nice things for smaller holders. Maybe it's the only way, to give." Deep down, beyond the backbiting and the aggressive apathy, Evi is good. "If you ever steal anything worth giving back." An olive branch, an attempt to fill a void through kindness.

D'lei has no answers for the dilemma of terrible roads and worse ones, only a sympathetic sort of grimace. How could he answer? He's only got the scraps of context he's stolen through chance words and supposition, hardly a full understanding… and even if he did know everything surrounding those regrets, he's no oracle to predict the future or the roads not taken. Anyhow, it's not his opinion that matters here; that's for Evi and Nei to work out between themself. His gaze shifts to the pool, then back again to Evi as her words take on a somewhat different cadence, a different shape of emotion for the offer she makes. "Most things have worth to someone," he muses, his gaze shifting back to the ripple-stirred pool. "Even if they're worthless to someone else. Sometimes it's just a matter of figuring that out." A half-smile, his gaze still directed at the not-quite-still waters. "And sometimes it's more complicated than that… but I'll try to keep it in mind."

Evi stands up in a fluid, graceful motion, gathering the clipboard and lantern before turning with her chin level and eyes set on the brown-haired older man. Upon standing, that ache resumes, face falling as she stares around and spots the path towards the weyr. The course is perilous, leading to all of the things she wanted and won't get, to her home, which is now a tomb of the love she gave up. The onslaught of emotion is enough to force a gulp, preventing bile from potentially ruining D'lei's shoes. "You can't go assigning worth to things, they might not agree with your assesment." Wielding words with a twist that makes her lifemate hum in the distance, cryptic message dragging her deeper toward despair even as she lifts her lantern to the now darkened path. Turning back, she says, "Here, uh, you can use this. I am not scared of the dark." Words heavy, as she places the lantern down near his feet and moves to walk into the night. The woods are just trees, and the trees are just wood.

D'lei spreads his hands at Evi's assertion, extending the motion of a small shrug. He's got no argument to offer her, no disagreement - at least from him - about the perils of assigning worth. What would he know? His value has already been established and stated, at least in this particular context, and - whether he agrees or not - he apparently has no intent to argue with it. Evi starts to depart… then stops, deciding to leave her lantern with D'lei… not that he showed any sign of hesitation when he arrived from the deep woods. "There are other reasons to want a light," he muses with an arched brow… but he doesn't argue any further than that, doesn't try to force the lantern back into her hands. Maybe that's just how scoundrels work? Either way, Evi is only a few steps down the path before the lantern is extinguished behind her. No light behind her, no light before her… maybe it's a metaphor for something, or maybe it's just a thrifty saving of power. Who knows? Either way, darkness falls, and so does silence, and D'lei remains behind for at least as long as it takes for Evi to depart. As for that lantern? She may yet see it again, if a certain small beasthold in the mountains is among the ones she visits on her rounds. Then again, she may not. There are many future roads, all of them unclear.

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