Mo' Worries, Mo' Problems

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.

In his current mood, Khavro gravitates toward the calmer, more sheltered cove to the southwest of the lake, because even at dawn it means there are likely to be more people. Any people. He just cares about sitting somewhere that he's not entirely alone, while not necessarily having to interact with anyone. Because no one wants to interact with a sour-faced, curly-haired trader at dawn. He finds a place to settle where the water meets the sand and he can stick his bared feet in there. It's cold and uncomfortable this early in the morning. Perfect.

Only someone does. Pale hands slide into place over his eyes, gently extinguishing the light of the world even as the rustle of fabric indicates someone is settling right behind him, a vaguely feminine shape brushing briefly against the candidate's back. "Why so serious, Riddle?" The words are delivered intentionally deep in the woman's melodic-voiced register. "Shall I make you guess who?" It's Tej!

He might get a little tense, but he doesn't startle in so many words. "Quite sure you're the only one who calls me that, Red." Khavro doesn't shrug her off or anything, he just waits to have his eyes back to glance over at her. "You're perhaps the last person I expected to see this morning." And it's difficult to tell how he feels about it because he's not sure himself.

Tejra's hands slip away from his eyes, but touch his shoulders in a brief squeeze before leaving him entirely and she scoots a little more forward in the sand and extend out her own bare feet, legs hugged by form-fitting capris of grey, her shirt a much flowier affair of a dusty rose color. "I could call you something else, if I knew your name," she reaches out to finger the white knot on his shoulder, head tilting to the side as if she might rest it on her own shoulder, before adding, "Candidate." Her own has no knot at present, but she doesn't look like she's dressed for the duty day, her hair showing some sign of sweat at the hairline, more or less contained in a single long plait over one shoulder.

"I don't mind Riddle. And it evidently comes in handy when you sneak up on me." Khavro glances at her again as she settles in beside him. "Candidate," he repeats the word like he's not sure he wants the title now. "I haven't seen you around at all. What are you doing in Xanadu? Have you been freed from your terrible captor?"

"Freed," Tejra sighs the word and looks down at her toes as she wriggles them into the sand where the water laps over them. There's a winsome smile on her face as she looks out over the horizon and then back to the curly-haired candidate. "Walked the tables," she offers answer to one of his long-ago suspicions. "I've finally convinced my body that night as the hours see it here and not back in Fort area is the right time to sleep so you may yet be so lucky as to see me again. This is my first posting." She considers the young man a moment. "You didn't strike me as the candidate type. What changed?"

"Well," he begins, "Congratulations. I hope you don't hate it. And if you could just keep what you know about me to yourself, that'd be great." One would expect him to not say anything catty now, since he really would appreciate her cooperation, but no, he says, "Maybe you're just shit at reading people. This is what I've always wanted. Dreamed about it since I was a little bastard."

Fortunately for Riddle, Red finds him amusing and a little half-laugh escapes her lips. "Probably so. I'm not one of those Harpers anyway." That doesn't stop Tejra from turning her head to regard him a little more closely, looking over his face and the expression on it. "I didn't give you away then, I won't now. It's nothing to me so long as no one comes asking about a string of suspicious missing objects in the candidate barracks." She gives a little shrug. "Did you leave your bad friends behind when you came?"

"If I was going to take anything, I wouldn't do it where I sleep." Probably. He's not dumb. Probably. Her last comment must hit a little closer than he wants it to. His gaze snaps back to her. He almost looks upset, but maybe just annoyed that he was that forthcoming with her. "Something like that. My name's Khavro, by the way. Suppose you'll figure that out anyway."

"Probably," the Harper admits with a half-smile. "I'm Tej. Tejra. Journeyman Harper and all that. I like Tej. Or Red." She moves to bump his shoulder with her own. "Will you stay, Khavro? Or is this just a port in a storm?" She looks out over the calm waters, maybe admiring the beauty of the summer morning that warms even as they sit there.

"Tej," he repeats it experimentally. "Not bad, Red." So his preference is pretty clear there, feigned or not. "I don't know. I didn't put much thought into it at all. Just… seized opportunity." Story of his life. "Not sure I'm up to the challenge, though." And it truly pains him to say that. But it must be important for him to say it to someone.

Did Riddle expect delicate fingers to twine in through his on his nearest hand? She doesn't do him the injustice of squeezing as if he needed support, she just twines her fingers like that time in a place faraway, at a gather where they were strangers pretending to be friends. Are they still? "Tell me?" It's left as an invitation. She's kept his secrets so far, though.

It's unexpected to be sure, but there's just a hint of tension before he accepts the touch with relaxation. He must be off kilter because Khavro barely hesitates before he takes a breath to say, "It's just that I figured it would be a simple thing to be a dragonrider, you know? I'd just be me with a dragon. Go wherever I like, not worry about any enemies I've made. But even the eggs are… more than I expected. I don't know that I could manage a whole dragon in my head."

"Some of that is probably still true. Dragons do have a way of dissuading enemies in all the stories I've read." Tejra strokes the fingers of his hand with her own. "It's rare that life ever turns out as we expect. Sometimes it gets closer than others. A lot of time, not at all." Then, just as suddenly as she arrives, the redhead is shifting into a crouch instead of a seat and she leans to press a sisterly kiss to Riddle's temple and her hand runs through his curls, fluffing them. "You're a big boy. You can handle it." There's her vote of confidence, and then she's walking off down the beach as though his inner thoughts, dreams and fears were no nevermind to her no matter what they are. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, KHAVRO.

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