Acclimatizing the Holdbred

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.

Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

The morning was drizzly and with a depressing amount of cloud, but now that the hour has passed noon and lunch is long over, Rukbat is showing her face to shine a little light down on a temperamental Weyr. Well, temperamental some places. Out here in the Meadow, things remain blessedly serene. A few clouds skitter across blue sky and the grasses aren't more than a little dewy after their morning drink. Stefyr makes his way across the field from the general direction of the candidate barracks, his eyes scanning those dragons dotted about and seeming to take particular note of the green ones, his eyes bouncing then to any riders nearby. He'll find what he's looking for, eventually.

Indeed, a familiar greenrider can be found at the end of the meadow, dressed in plain, standard-issue riding leathers while adjusting the much more elaborately-tooled straps of a green dragon while she sits primly waiting for him to finish. She notices Stefyr before N'on, and watches him with one eye whirling slowly with yellow curiosity. Eventually, the rider finishes and only then does she inform him of the Candidate's presence with a gentle rumble. N'on looks up, scanning the meadow, then grins and waves when he spots Stefyr.

The Weyr might be temperamental, and the weather might not be cooperating, but at least someone is cheerful. Evangeline has been absent from the barracks since Leirith's flight, her quilt remains on the bed, but she and her cats have pulled a Houdini. Still, present for touching the eggs and chores, she's been quiet and reserved since the whole affair. Often times accompanied by some adult members of what one might assume is her Xanadu household. Today though, she is free and is skipping through the meadow with enough pep for three people. Spotting Stefyr she waves, her lips pursed and eyes wide, but still a wave is more attention then she seemed to be able to brave. Spotting N'on, though, her face breaks into a grin, and her clumsy hippity hops move her towards Zhel. She has dragons to greet, Stefyr might have to wait.

Wait he may need to do, but it turns out the blond candidate's destination is the same as his brown-haired counterpart. Stefyr returns nod for wave, his expression shifting to something a little guarded as he comes to a stop a "safe but conversational" distance from Zhelinath. His lips press briefly together and then likely on a whim, he gives her a brief bow - not as deep as what is offered dam and sire on the Sands, but something that is at once playful and also respectful. "Rider N'on," he greets the older man, a reserved smile briefly stealing across his face before he turns his attention back toward the dragon. "This is…" And he makes that sign. "I don't want to say your name wrong," he offers directly to the dragon, his feet shifting in a give away of the nerves keeping the young man's body a little overly stiff. Really, he looks on edge enough to be ready to jump but having no idea which way to jump. "I'm…" NERVOUS. "…glad to meet you." He adds, awkwardly but earnestly.

Zhelinath arches her gold-dusted-green neck, regarding each of the Candidates with draconian delight. First, she lowers her head to inspect Stefyr more closely, her head tilting ever so slightly. Is that a whisper of a thought? A thread of smoke on the wind, or just his imagination? « Zhelinath… » Probably his imagination. Having had a good look at Stef, she shifts her attention to Evangeline. N'on simply stands back and watches with a pleased grin. "She likes meeting people," he signs, in case that wasn't obvious.

There's no safe stopping distance for Evangeline, she gets within a few feet of the green and makes a tiny hop, "Hello, do you remember me? I am Evangeline. We met at Monaco." She gushes a bit, her tone all giddy smiles, glancing over at Stefyr her eyes get wide and her lips part as if an apology might form. NOPE. Nothing. The words drop back down her gullet and shaking her head to rid herself of any pesky thoughts she goes back to admiring the green dragon, she is so close that she is craning her neck up to see her. Turning to N'on, she asks, "Does she understand the hand language? I mean, why would she." Answering her own question and bouncing on her feet. "Sorry if I am interrupting. She's just… well important." The sudden realization that maybe she's disturbing the two seems to prompt her to back up several steps. A small blush comes over her face, and she scoots back so that she is standing the same distance as Stefyr but leaving a sizeable bubble between them. The bouncing slows, and she settles quietly, every now and then she glances over at Stefyr, but her main focus is Zhelinath. With a deep breath she spills out much to fast, "Good afternoon Stefyr, nice to see you." Then silence, yep that's all the bravery for the week.

Even if it is his imagination, Stefyr works for Leirith. Okay, Risali and R'hyn now, but really, it's Leirith. And so that whisper of a thought that might be a real thought or not at all gives him enough something to let pressed-together lips open enough to try, "Zhelinath?" He's absolutely ready to take it back as he looks from rider to dragon. Evangeline gets a brief glance from the older candidate, and if he notices her not saying whatever she didn't say, there's no sign. "Does she-" he starts instead in question to N'on, and then looks back to Zhelinath, "Do you like being touched?" Then to N'on, "And who should I address? It seems to… vary." That's such a polite way to say he has to deal directly with Leirith more often than just sometimes. "Evangeline," is politely returned to the young woman. There is no sign that Stefyr is uncomfortable with her, his nerves seem to be focused purely on the dragon in front of him. Still, it's not as casual a greeting as he's offered her in the past. "Zhelinath searched you, right?" If one remembers that he's definitely been told this and probably hasn't forgotten since he was asked to translate for a would-be possible-tirade, then one might be able to interpret this as an attempt to be inclusive and not make the young woman feel awkward in joining them here. "I asked N'on for an introduction," is offered further but not much more in the way of explanation.

Zhelinath snakes her head out and gives Evangeline the gentlest of nudges. Gentle by dragon standards probably means 'at least it didn't knock me over' but she's trying to be a lady here. N'on gives Stefyr a little wink and grin. "Whichever you speak to," he signs, oh-so-helpfully. He doesn't correct the pronunciation of the name. And as for whether she likes being touched… Well, Zhe answers that herself by neatly resting her chin on the ground in front of Stefyr, presenting herself for a nice eyeridge scritch. GET TO WORK HUMANS.

For a few moments the awkwardness of the whole situation seems to get to Evangeline, and she's rocking back and forth from heels to the balls of her feet before Stefyr is asking questions and she is nodding excitedly towards him, a half step taken to the side so that the distance between them shrinks. "She did, yes! Hello, Zhelinath." Offering up with a small smile, tipping back and nearly falling as the dragon taps her. For a second, it looks like she might tumble backward, and then she steps forward and positions herself so that she can scratch the opposite eye ridge. "N'on, what.. was she like when she was little?" Asking and giving a bounce from heel to toe. "Was it hard to get used to?" Her nose wrinkling, though the lack of specificity in the question seems to leave it open to interpretation. Quiet takes over as she rubs her fingernails into the crease of the green's eyeridge, putting all her attention into it. "Shhh so pretty, yesss" She doats over her favorite green and changes to small hard circles like she is giving a massage.

N'on may not like it when Stefyr flaps his hands at him, but that doesn't stop the young man from signing with an appropriately thunderstruck expression, 'Enlightening!' or the equivalent idea, though he doesn't say the word aloud. His expression eases a little bit though, briefly flashing a (cheeky? Sort of) grin to the greenrider. That grin vanishes when he's presented with Zhelinath's head. For touching. His Adam's apple bobs as he gulps in some feeling that isn't allowed to manifest on his face. He watches Evangeline take to the challenge like a fish asked to swim in water and a slow breath is drawn and released in a carefully controlled exhale before he moves. He reaches out his callused hands to touch green's gold dusted eyeridges, his long fingers following with some small wonder up to the dapples of yellow-green on her headknobs. He glances to Evangeline as she asks her questions, tilting his head as though interested in the answers as well. He has something of his own to add, though. "Show me what she likes?" He requests of the one who would know better than anyone else here. He wants to do it right - like this a test he could pass.

Zhelinath sighs with contentment as Evangeline gets to work. Without moving her head, she slowly lowers the rest of herself to the ground, her claws curled up underneath her for all the world like a house-sized cat. Meanwhile, N'on himself has gone a bit glaze-eyed… only to be snapped out of it by Evangline's question. He smiles with only a touch of self-consciousness, and signs an answer, glancing to see if Stefyr will translate. "She liked to tell what I was thinking. To everyone." The sign he uses for 'everyone' is an expansive one, including the whole weyr. For Stefyr's benefit, he scratches an itchy spot just under the green's jaw, then steps back to let Stefyr take over.

Evangeline watches N'on sign and nods along, as if maybe she will understand what he says by osmosis. When Stefyr translates her head nods fast, a thankful smile given to the man. "Nana says that dragons have become less polite since she impressed, how did you get her to stop?" The quandry in her voice comes with a small headshake. Evi still seems more nervous about Stefyr then Zhelinath, though she does attempt to smile at him as if she can perhaps share the whimsy she is experiencing with the green in front of her. This could be because of her immersion into the world of dragons and riders since staying with her family, or maybe it's Zhelinath. Her hands still moving at a rhythmic pace along the greens eyeridges; instead of moving up her head, her hands move down to a place directly in between the eyes of the dragon. "It's nice, right? I think so tooo yesss." The happy croon in her voice cannot be denied, the girl seems to be in heaven and is content to continue her ministrations with gusto. She once said that she was not dragon rider material, but the aftermath of the flight has brought that into sharp question and it seems she is embracing the possibility.

As previously agreed, Stefyr will, indeed, translate as closely as possible to what the greenrider wishes to communicate. The only thing he, himself, adds is a, "N'on says," to the beginning, and there goes N'on losing his title again. Apparently translations aren't as formal as any other professional interaction, as this one apparently counted in the big blond's book. The afternoon that finds two candidates, one greenrider and his dragon on the meadow (among other weyrfolk and riders dotted about) is one with a bright blue sky, a few white clouds skittering across, after a drizzly cloudy morning has passed off. The green's head is down between the two candidates and Stefyr is just moving to scratch under the dragon's chin as N'on just demonstrated to him. He adds his own question to this session of "Ask a Greenrider," with, "Did she share all your thoughts or only the interesting ones?" There's a little pause before he adds, thoughtfully, "Or did they all qualify as interesting to her? It seemed like some of the eggs didn't … like me much." That produces a hint of color in his cheeks and his eyes skate across Evangeline before he looks back to N'on, ready to translate again.

N'on shrugs a little, and looks toward the sky, as though thinking hard. Finally, he signs an answer for Stefyr to relay. "Two bodies, one mind. I'm embarrassed, she's embarrassed." He smiles and shrugs, then glances to Stefyr. "When she thought I would have said it," he signs. Zhe's eyes are slowly closing, her croons turning to a rumble of contentment at all the attention. N'on just grins at Stefyr for his observation about the eggs. "No one likes everyone they meet. Eggs are the same."

"One of the eggs pulls you underwater, feels like it's dark and cold. They have funny egg things, sometimes I- well I think I'm smelling things. Where does an egg smell from?" Evangeline ponders out loud, getting down towards between the dragon's nostrils. For a moment, she stops and scoots around the giant green head, hands going above the head knobs even though she has to stand on the very tips of her toes to reach. A question forms on her face, her lips pucker and push to the opposite side of her mouth, one part of her face is stretched left while any remaining muscles try and pull her nose right. The expression is a silly one, and Evi gives a POP with her lips. There's a small humm, and then she says, "Do you… lose your mind when she's.. um." Quiet, for all the world, Evi does not know this word. Both her shoulders go to her ears, and her neck moves forward like she's impersonating a bird trying to peck the ground. Thought given recent events, a girl might need to ask. Glancing at Stefyr, her eyes are locked on him while her hands do there due diligence.

When he finishes translating for Evangeline, N'on's answer gives Stefyr pause. He cants his head just slightly and inquires of the rider. "Two bodies, one mind. Still?" There's something subtly more to that question that he's asking, but aside from a slight reiteration of his earlier flush there's no give away and regardless, he goes on doing as he was shown to please the dragon so generously donating her time however informally to candidate acclimation. To Evangeline, he'll finally address something of his own. "I don't expect it's any different for human babies. Who knows what all they might think, hear or dream when they're still growing within? The difference might just be that the eggs can in some strange ways share some of their notions with us. It's one of the craziest things I've ever experienced." He doesn't think twice about using that particular adjective, but it might not have been the best choice. Only then Evangeline's other question catches up with him and his face colors in earnest. He almost doesn't look to N'on to translate, but after a moment he lifts his eyes, expression a little … awkward. Maybe one part apologetic, one part curious, but still embarrassed nonetheless.

N'on holds his hand up, palm down, and tilts it side to side with a conflicted expression. So the 'two bodies, one mind' is sort of true? He doesn't try to clarify any more than that, but he at least spares an apologetic smile for the lack of further explanation. He reaches over to adjust one of Zhe's straps while the Candidates discuss the eggs, only to glance over at Evangeline with a curious, slightly blank expression. He absolutely did not get the gist of what she was trying to ask. He glances to Stefyr, to find the young man turning red, then back to Evangeline. Yep, totally lost.

The color change in Stefyr acts a rebuttal to Evangeline's question, and she ducks down to scratch around Zhelinath's neck, "Never mind." Is squeaked out, the younger candidate of the two has grown a bit but not this much. All of the nervous energy is now focused on giving the best neck scratch ever. "Dragons don't have memories, I think… so Maybe they eggs get all their feelings from the clutch parents?" The meandering way she gets out her thought asserts that she might have no idea what she is talking about. "Firelizards remember things, but dragons don't.. so they can't have memories of smells, they shouldn't know anything in the shells at all." You can almost see the math lady meme as Evi tries to suss out why the eggs are doing what dragon eggs have done for thousands of years.

Stefyr's hands come off of Zhelinath's soft hide and up to scrub across his face, scrunching his nose in some kind of internal debate that ends with another rub of his hand that draws his fingers over his jaw. "I think she's asking about flights." Even though Evangeline is neverminding. It's not really fair to leave the greenrider as the only one in the dark, if Stefyr even inferred the right thing from Evangeline's question. He moves away from Zhe's head to where N'on is adjusting the straps, his eyes going over the things. "Fancy," he observes of the straps. "Not like the ones I've handled in the stores." The ones that no one really wants but takes if they have to. "Would it be too much of a hassle to show me how they really work? I've not seen that up close yet." He glances over to Evangeline, raising his brows in silent question. Has she? Does she want to? Maybe he's just offering to turn the conversation to topics that produce less color on his farm-bred face.

Poor N'on. He may have been a rider for three turns, but he's been Hold-bred for decades. His face slowly colors to a nice cherry color, and he turns his eyes resolutely toward Zhelinath, buying himself some time with adjusting the straps. Yes, Stefyr is very nice to try to change the subject, but it seems like N'on feels it's important to actually answer the first question. He takes a deep breath and clears his throat with a scratchy noise. "We don't lose our minds," he signs. "It's complicated."

Evangeline has scrunched herself in the corner between the dragons wedge-shaped head and her neck, scratching and adoring on her as best she can while simultaneously hiding from the eyes of people who can look upon her with embarrassment. As stefyr speaks up, you can almost hear her head roll back on her shoulders, staring up at the sky like it might bless her with an asteroid that will end this line of thinking. This doesn't make her any less interested in the answer, and when she hears Stefyr interpret it, she squeaks out, "Thank you. During Leirith's flight, I was not myself, and, I have been concerned about it. That is all. My cousin Ony said I was overtired anyways and with the eggs, and the chores. I.. made mistakes, I owe people apologies." All of her words come out, each one faster than the next until the last sentence oozes out of her mouth with a sharp intake of breath. The subject change is the most welcome thing that has happened all turn, and Evi peeks around the greens head nodding, "I like straps, I would love to see the straps, N'on sir." Back to using sir, but she moseys around to the same side as N'on and Stefyr, her eyes following the straps that are on the dragon.

It's entirely possible that Stefyr isn't any more comfortable with translating N'on's answer than N'on is with giving it, even if it's important. It's probably because the greenrider answered at all that Stefyr sucks up his own discomfort to translate as dutifully as before. Those straps sure are fascinating though. Perhaps they're not as fascinating as the ripe redfruit shade his ears color right along with the rest of his face as Evangeline speaks. He leans closer to the straps to look at them and then, because if he's looking at them he's not seeing if N'on needs him to translate, he turns back toward the greenrider. He doesn't say it aloud perhaps to spare Evangline's pride, but before the younger candidate joins them on this side of the dragon, he signs swiftly to N'on, 'She might mean me. Maybe.' But even if he explains to the greenrider, he does not respond aloud to Evangeline, but instead looks increasingly awkward, his eyes going from straps to greenrider and back. He takes a breath and sighs, maybe not even wanting to ask, but asking anyway, "In what way is it complicated? Do you feel comfortable sharing?" He doesn't assume, but both he and Evangeline are Standing for the possibility of a life not unlike N'on's, and maybe he understands why N'on answered a would-be-dismissed topic to begin with.

N'on keeps fidgetting with the straps, and improbably, it's Zhelinath who seems to answer. Her words drift like candle smoke, whispering on a breeze as she arches her neck to have a closer look at the Candidates. « Complicated means he's too lazy to talk. Perhaps I can— » A sharp whistle from N'on and a stern, embarrassed look puts a stop to whatever she was going to say. There's an impression of deep amusement from the green, before she settles herself back down. Tamping down his reluctance, N'on turns back to the two with a distinct redness to his face, but he launches into a signed explanation. Poor Stefyr will just have to translate, since he's the one who asked. "Dragons are not like humans. They have stronger instincts. They aren't ashamed. We can forget to be humans if we aren't prepared. But we can be prepared." He glances between Evangeline and Stefyr, with a weak smile. "This is part of what you accept if you Impress." Then he glances to Zhelinath with a deeply fond look (even if he is still quite pink). "Worth it."

WHY CAN'T ANYONE JUST LOOK AT STRAPS. SUCH NICE STRAPS. The more Stefyr talks, the quieter she gets; if one could practice near-silent breathing and blinking, she is doing her best. As Stefyr persists, asking for more detail, she looks at him with such horror that it is as if he just suggested they cook and eat Curtains her favorite hairless cat. For all the world, Evangeline wishes she had never brought this up, not that she doesn't perk up when Zhelinath begins to talk, but her face reddens, and she tucks her head into her shoulders with the whistle. The straps she is looking at are getting the closest exam of their life, her eyes tracing the grain of the leather, and each buckle might as well be getting an appraisal with how her eyes lock on them. As Stefyr translates for N'on, she groans, "I don't want to do all that again. I think- well, I know I bit Stefyr." That's all of that story she is offering, though her eyes look up to try and find Steyrs, and her mouth traces the words, SORRY.

Zhelinath's interjection has Stefyr glancing in surprise to the green and then he looks at N'on, his lips pinching together because he is. not. laughing. It actually seems to help him, though, on the embarrassment front. "Too complicated," he murmurs more to himself than anyone else, but if N'on's listening there's threat/promise in that echo. It's doubtless filed away for some later inquiry. Taking the edge off seems to make the translation flow a little more steadily. Only, then Evangeline says that thing and he stiffens, blushing scarlet. "When I was carrying her to the infirmary because I thought she was sick," his explanation is hurried tinged with desperate and he looks at N'on. "I-uh… I came to tell you," as if he couldn't have told him this all along, this blurted desperate thing, "I have to go back to the office today to play human shield in case more things get thrown," because his is such a happy work environment since R'hyn became Weyrleader partnered with his step-daughter. "I-" WHAT. "It was an honor to meet you Zhelinath. Thank you for indulging me. Can we take a ride another day? When no one might-" DIE? "-need me somewhere else?" Like in the Weyrleaders' office STAUNCHING RIVERS OF BLOOD WHEN MURDER IS IN THE AIR? He is not looking at Evangeline, whatever other awkward tap dance of excuses he's now making with N'on.

N'on blinks rapidly. The human shield line has piqued his interest, so one can assume that he's going to want to know more about that. But he lets it go for now, just holding up a single finger to Stefyr, requesting his presence a moment longer. Back to Evangeline, he makes very clear eye contact, with a smile that is neither totally at ease nor unkind. "There are ways around that. I locked myself in at home." Annnnnnd he'll leave it at that. He makes a shooing motion to let Stefyr know he's dismissed, then waves to Evangeline as well. Either he's decided to be kind and end the embarrassment there, or he has other business to attend to. Candidates are dismissed!

As the conversation persists, and Stefyr somehow misses her sorry and then to her it seems like he is making some odd excuse to escape. The last words from him have Evangeline staring at the floor with her lips locked in a tight line and forehead so furrowed she is sure to have fine lines by her 20th turn. "I was sick, I needed—" Beat. Two. "SLeep." Yes, sleep, she needed SLEEP, ok. She was hysterically TIRED. As Stefyr passes N'on's advice to her, she looks all the world like she might burst into tears, her hands scratching along the dragon if just to give her poor fingers a job and her mind something to think on other then the utter HORROR of what she did on that night. "Thank you, N'on, sir. I… am." Hiccup, sob, "I am late." The awkward run of Evangeline is a sight to see. For some reason, no one has taught her yet that you do not run with your arms paddling out like you're doing a canine paddle in front of you. The training might help, but so far, no dice.

This is the most quickly delivered translation of them all, Stefyr literally shifting on his feet as though he were already running away but staying because he's bidden and N'on is not only a rider who outranks him, but also a friend. N'on looks at Evangeline, but Stefyr keeps his eyes on N'on like the greenrider is presently Stefyr's tenuous anchor; the only thing keeping him from going to be heroic elsewhere (read: from being incredibly cowardly here). But in the moment when the greenrider makes that dismissing gesture, Stefyr's swinging around to let an unusually long-legged gait for the candidate that normally saunters everywhere, taking him in really, truly, the vague direction of the caverns and possibly even the administrative hall beyond.

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