Not Everything Changes

Xanadu Weyr - Training Grounds
This wide, grassy expanse is nestled into a vaguely bowl-shaped curve, granite walls jagged and misshapen as though something's taken a bite out of the mountain. It's high above the level of the beach, with a lovely easterly view of the sea and a long path leading down to sandy shores. Cliffs surround the training grounds on all other sides, excepting a small archway leading towards the hatching arena.
While much of the grounds are left in their natural state, one area has been trampled and trodden by enough feet that the grass struggles to grow. A running track circles a set of equipment - straw dummies with wooden frames, obstacles of various sizes and shapes, and targets for flaming, archery, and whatever else might be needed to train human and dragon bodies alike.
Candidate access to the combined barracks can obtained by way of a simple door embedded into the wooden half of the structure. Weyrlings are encouraged to make use of a short but massive tunnel that slopes gently upwards into the half of the barracks meant for dragon use. To the right of this opening, a jagged crack in the stone leads to a dim cave, alive with the sound of water.

A response to this log.

« I thought you would be happy. »

The words echoed up out of the darkness, and Ky’zai blinked muzzily into the pre-dawn darkness as he trudged across the bowl towards the Weyrling Barracks. At this rate, he’d be lucky to get an hour’s sleep before it was time to wake up for lessons, and he sincerely doubted his father would be willing to let him sleep in. Ah well - they’d tried to talk him out of going; he’d been the stubborn one.

« Kys? I thought you would be happy. »

He remained silent as he crossed the threshold of the barracks, only to be met by a pair of rapidly whirling eyes in a distressed yellow. “Chay,” he sighed, reaching out to run his hand along the brown’s lowered jaw. The spicy scent of dragonhide, underlaid with the sage and herbs he kept stocked in their couch, drew him in until he fetched up against the beasts’s broad chest. Black-and-blue chased wings folded forward, enveloping him.

Enveloping him as Verzhuqueth had Ligeia.

Something in him broke and as he rested his forehead against that smooth, spicy hide, he felt tears run down his cheeks. He was not a sobber; life had taught him to cry silently, unobtrusively - but it had certainly taught him to cry, and he did so now, tears dampening Tchechayzaeth’s throat. The brown crooned, the sound more felt than heard, trying to comfort his rider. « I do not understand. She wanted this; you wanted her to have this, because she wanted it. Because she is meant to ride. »

Silently, Ky’zai drew back and Chay withdrew his wings. Reaching out, the weyrling gently tugged on one wingtip. “Outside. I don’t want to disturb the others.”

Into the pre-dawn gloom, they emerged, and Ky’zai wrapped his arms around himself, gazing skyward. “She wanted this, and yes, I wanted her to have this, but - she’s at Igen now. She’s not coming back.” His voice cracked slightly and he hunched his shoulders, wincing.

« So? »

Startled, the weyrling turned to stare at his massive partner, and Tchechayzaeth gazed down at him, his expression impartial. “What do you mean, so?”

In answer, the brown spread his wings to their fullest, the glory of black and blue and brown dark shadows against the lightening sky. « I mean, so? I am a dragon. There is nowhere I can’t go, nowhere she can go that I cannot. And she, too, now rides a dragon. So even if we cannot go, she can come. »

“People change when they Impress.” The root of Ky’zai’s fear; not that she is gone forever, but when she returns, she will change. She will grow. She will outgrow him.

« Bah. You changed. That didn’t mean anything. Not everything changes, and change isn’t always bad. » Impatient now, Chay lowered his wings, then flicked one out, batting lightly against his rider - lightly being a relative term, as he sent the slim young man staggering backwards. « We’re more than we were before, but you still love her. »

“Hey, hey.” Ky’zai’s voice rose in panic. “I like her. No one said not one damn thing about… that.”

Satisfied that the crisis was, if not past, safely averted for now, Tchechayzaeth made a noise that sounded suspiciously like his name, whirling green eyes sly as he poked once more at his rider. « Whatever you say, kid. Now that everything’s not all doom and gloom, what say we practice those wing exercises? »

Scrubbing a hand through his tight-packed curls, Ky’zai stared at his dragon in disbelief. “Now? But I haven’t even been to sleep yet!”

The brown snorted and walked around him, wings already coming up in a stretch. « Who’s fault is that? War and women wait on no man. »

Rolling his eyes, Ky’zai stumbled around and began to jog tiredly after his lifemate. “We’re gonna regret this later,” he predicted.

« Maybe you, » drifted back on a cheerful laugh. « I got a full night’s sleep. Pick up the pace, slacker. We got work to do. »

Groaning, Ky’zai did as he was told. And he did indeed regret it later. But not very much.

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