House of Cards

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.

The grey of the evening makes it look later than it is, as if night has already come in-spite of Rukbat not yet passed over the lip of the horizon. The clouds from the storms of days past linger, dense and turbulent, shifting and ominous against the tumultuous winds in the upper atmosphere. Not even the brilliance of sunset can penetrate them, and thus dark simply gets darker as the techcraft's clocks tick their seconds away. Tick tock… tick tock. There's no crocodile here, but the one who likely has a vendetta against one is. Kaellian has one leg in his landing boat, and the other outside of it, the craft set not to dock at the docks themselves, but against some rocky outcropping much further down the beach. His black hair is wet, plastered down against his head and his face instead of its typical intentionally disheveled mess, his brown-tan cloak is also damp- it being clumped askew around his neck and shifted to one side to reveal just how much that 'disguise' doesn't match the rather gaudy jewelry and bold black attire decorated in silvers and subtle intricate pattern beneath. The rains have come and gone, but now they seem to threaten once again in a light drizzle which just lightly dampens all it touches. The man pulls on some ropes, securing some bags that all look the same, wrapped in non-descript sacks. There's another with him, too, hunched over and picking up some sort of silver bauble that had come loose.. and Kaellian's face is none too kind. A cruel shade has passed over him, and is too comfortable there. The boot of his that remains in the boat seems to keep it there rather than tethering it in some other fashion- it's not meant to stay. His other boot is lapped at by the gentle whites of small crashed waves that are becoming ever-smaller as the tide is drawn back out to sea. "I won't tell you again, lad. This was to be done before the tide went out, and now you'll be pushing this out yerself. And y'best have this stowed away by the time I return, or I will have you on the mast tonight." There's some sort of mumbled response, but mostly uncomfortable silence amidst the scrambling while Kaellian otherwise stands poised, looming, his displeasure only in-check for the sake of the fact he has his flask on his black-wrapped hand rested on the hilt at his hip.

"That sounds an awful lot like a threat," comes soft, low and husky, marred by a gravel-rasp and the subtle hints of an accent that clings despite turns of being in a Weyr proper and practicing to sound like the local inhabitants. But it's not Ila'den who appears to further blanket the sky with his bulk, who lends depths to the shadows and accents them with a hide of bronze so tarnished it's gone black. No, that is Teimyrth, a hulking beast whose construction ensures he is far from being considered handsome. That bottom jaw is too large, jutting out to reveal sharp teeth; his gait is awkward, indelicate and pronounced but still somehow giving the impression of thinly veiled savagery, and those eyes: they whirl red and orange, agitation manifesting as a low-pitched growl that carries and permeates and reiterates what his eyes already say. He is not a friendly dragon, not by any stretch of the imagination, and maybe that's why he chose Ila'den. Ila'den comes from somewhere around that massive body, raising a hand to run fingers along Teimyrth's muzzle and snout, scratching along an eyeridge that has Teimyrth closing that eye, but still watching. But even without Teimyrth as a macabre backdrop to add a touch of the sinister, Ila'den looks unruly in his own right. It's that gravity-defiant hair, that I-Couldn't-Be-Bothered-To-Shave-Yesterday-And-Probably-Not-The-Day-Before-Either stubble that complements the darkness around that lone eye - not rimmed with kohl, but by the marks of one who probably hasn't seen a decent night of sleep in well over a decade, whomaybe had a little too much to drink if the red of irritation lend clarity to appearances; it's that eyepatch that hints at something grisly underneath, and those leathers that, despite the storms of days past and the cloudy coverage of today, still are out of place in Xanadu's summer. And per usual, the rider doesn't have his knot. Just him, and his dragon, and that grey-eye-damn-near-silver that's exactly like Risali's and focused on hunched men for too long before one brow rises and Ila'den's attention settles on Kaellian again. "I'd ask if you need help, but I somehow doubt it would be welcome." Which is when the dragonrider's gaze drops to that black-wrapped hand rested on hilts, emphasizing his point by sheer audacity to look before his attention comes back up.

The approach of the massive form of a bronze and the subsequent voice that joins him has Kaellian turning to face the both of them. As with the whole of his demeanor, the effect is slow, callous, nonchalant. The sort of behavior that expects the world to wait for him, and bow when he is ready for it to do so. His good hand rubs over his face, a rough sound as it scratches over the dark scruff that promotes and dramatizes the shadows that accentuate each line of him. From the darkness of rain-flattened strands of hair and kohl, those seablue eyes pass over where he'd expected the voice to come from, then slowly over the beast that arrived with him. The closest he's been to a dragon had been a Queen, so the size does not rattle him. The fact that it is a dragon in all its intimidating, impressive awe does not rattle him- at a distance. It is the behavior, the growl, the agitation that makes his stare linger, watching the color of those eyes from 'beneath the shade of dark brows. Waiting for the booming headache that never comes. The drag of that hand over his face is just as slow as his turn, and then it falls to his belt, where thumb hooks over the edge of it beside a silver'd buckle. Only then does the flicker of a grin draw lines onto his face, crooked just-so. It drips in arrogance and dismissal, just as his response does in those low, graveled tones, "I'd prefer… motivation." Recognition is slow- he was none too sober when he last saw this man, but it wasn't that long ago, and he doesn't miss it for what it is. Maybe it's the eyepatch. We'll go with that. That grin touched with a breath of the malevolant, and yet a warmth that matches the scoundrel's draw-in like a serpent waiting with offer of the fairest apple of them all. Kaellian adjusts again, pulling his boot out of the boat which promptly starts to rock softly with the ebb and flow of the water, beginning to free itself from the beach. The cabinboy will be sailing before he knows it. He watches him too-long with that sort of stare that reads, that waits, that records every scar, every missing adornment the man has. He lets those beats pass without interruption as if they don't matter, and he doesn't mind, and it's not awkward. Finally, "I would hardly bother a rider with loading a small bit'a cargo, mate." From the effort of respect to presumptuous boldness, "Or, is it that you missed out on the other night and wish to make up for it? There is always time for another drink." Not that he ever stopped.

But there is something aloof about Ila'den, something in the set of muscles that remain relaxed despite confrontation, something in his posture that's almost insulting in its insinuation that here is a man who has clearly seen terrible things and still doesn't think that Kaellian is a threat. Or, if he is a threat, not one nearly big enough to warrant flagging confidence in a man on the beach with his dragon. So as Kaellian speaks, Ila'den shifts to press a shoulder into his dragon's hide, to lean on Teimyrth and cross his legs at the ankle, to smile that wolfish smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes, but communicates amusement if the issuance of a low, husky, rumbling laugh that starts in his chest and ends almost as abruptly does not. "Oh, aye. I bet you would," comes on another growl of gravel-bitten voice, that rasp honest and not merely an attempt to capitalize on Things About Him That Might Be Intimidating, curbed by the husky lilt of amusement. "And I am sure that the beatings are merely an exercise in improving morale." But while Ila'den's posture might be at ease, the bronzerider's attention doesn't leave Kaellian, not even when Teimyrth lowers his head and tilts it as if he means to see Kaellian better. There's a snort from the bronze, another low growl that seems to swell when Ila'den pushes gently at his maw, and then those arms come to rest across his chest again as he watches, as that grey eye goes to the cabinboy and his wayward boat, as Ila'den meets that potentially awkward silence with ease, without a need to fill it, without the need to lower his gaze or look away when Ila'den fixates back onto Kaellian again and simply waits. It's the mention of the other night that has another half-laugh escaping Ila'den, as his head drops to his chest, as shoulders shift and eyes narrow upon coming back up beneath brows that knit for a fraction of a second - not in anger, but in amusement. Or, at least the appearance of such. But he doesn't deign to answer that question, instead looking away, down along the shore as if he might make a point merely by getting Kaellian to follow the path of his gaze - and maybe that is exactly what he intends. "Usually people load their cargo at the docks, small or no." It's not a question, it's a challenge, a statement that implies nothing good.

The boy figures out that he's no longer anchored to the beach all-of-a-sudden. There's wide-eyed surprise followed by excessively furious scrambling for the oars. Excessive because, well, this isn't open sea, and he's not gonna die, and the movement of the current is taking him generally where he needs to go anyway. "C-captain..-" Further distress is cut-off by Kaellian's off-handed "You're fine. Start rowing." And the sandy-haired young teen does, with no less disgruntled comments and probably numerous colorful obscenities once he's far enough off to not be heard. There's a couple of tuber sacks left on the beach, though, either abandoned or to be collected by the one left behind. With the background of the splashing of oars becoming progressively distant and overtaken once more by the gentle white noise of the fading waves, Kaellian pays that no more mind. The water, barely overtaking the toes of those boots that come to calf-height, is left for the soaken sand of the lower beach, arresting just a small amount of that distance between them before pausing again. "That sounds like experience." He muses, either avoiding or agreeing with the sentiment- it could so easily go either way, "Is that how dragonriders keep a Weyr so shipshape. I had wondered." There's no inflection to his question, only the dry sarcasm, the very essence of his voice amused and unimpressed and an effortless sort of selfish confidence. There is inherent threat when facing off with a rider, though he appears overall unperturbed. A threat he may or may not be, but that is the delight, is it not? Where a predator moves about at the periphery, waiting, watching. Reveling in the moments it is ignored, for that is when it stalks closer. And closer. Eyes in the dark. Eyes- those cold, frigid seablue eyes kohl-rimmed and darkness-lost and fixated on Ila'den, only moving to look over him again as the other slips his gaze down the beach towards the docks. His thumb rubs against the back of one of his bloodrings, an idle motion, a curious thing of increased… interest. Dangerous interest. Knowing what he's seeing, but not knowing. Connecting what he's heard, but not yet seeing the other side that had been presented. "Aye." Challenge accepted, the corrupt grin of his spreading by faint degrees, noticable only by the small lines at the corner of his eyes. "Well we happened to come a'shore here in the day and ended up with a number of things. It just happened to be easier to not bother going all the way back to the docks, as you can imagine." Easier, in every implication of that word.

Poor, sweet summer dove. He will figure it out, or he will drown; at least Ila'den is making no moves to help him. But okay yes, mostly because all of that floundering about is unwarranted as of yet (and while Ila'den is many things, a sadist isn't one of them). Ironic, isn't it, that Ila'den never killed until he became a dragonrider? But here we are, an apex predator sniffing out an apex predator, tasting that metallic tang of danger near tangible on the air, engaging in a verbal dance meant to evade, and allude, and provoke, meant to taunt that secret knowledge of knowing a secret that you never intend to vocalize because you never show your hand first. Not to the enemy, not to the people who could cost you so much for merely having the audacity to attempt to breach whatever lies behind silver-greys and seablues. But maybe Ila'den is beyond that; maybe Ila'den has played the game for so long or grown tired of empty smiles and empty words; maybe Ila'den found somebody who helped him believe that his past and all those ugly scars that marked his body with it didn't necessarily make him a monster. (Of course, he still keeps covered up from head to toe IN ALL WEATHER (WHICH IS NOT AT ALL SUSPICIOUS, ILA) so THERE GOES THAT THEORY.) Maybe Ila'den just found something more important than secrets and lies - than self, and that instinct to preserve. "No," comes slowly, lilting, accent thicker in amusement barbed with something much more lethal. "I never had the legs for the sea. I always preferred solid ground; too many men drown in the water." Too many men bleed out on the shore. But Ila'den lets Kaellian finish, lets another husky, rasping round of short-lived laughter escape him when explanations reach their end and Ila'den is pushing up and away from Teimyrth. To… approach Kaellian? Yes. To do just that. But with slow, measured steps, interrupted only by the hint of a limp every time he puts down weight on his right leg. "Clever," comes low, around a wolf's smile that doesn't reach his eyes. "Very clever." And he stills, a reasonable distance from the pirate, Teimyrth stirring behind him in agitation that's probably mounted by his rider's when the humor flees from Ila'den's demeanor. It would seem the game is over. And so soon, too. "So it probably goes without saying that I would appreciate it if you stayed away from my daughter." Oh, Ila. As if Risali does not have TWO WEYRMATES and a DRAGON and her SMOL, FURIOUS SELF to keep her safe. ONCE A DAD, ALWAYS A DAD I GUESS.

It is too early for this one. For all of the life that he has lived, for all that he has seen, he is still very deep in that game. Too blinded by that game. Intimate with it. Living by it. It isn't that he never learned a hint of anything more, but that in having it taken away before he appreciated it, there is still nothing but self. And when there is nothing but self, there is no changing. No seeing beyond what's behind him. No perception around the tunnelvision that guides him forward. Kaellian's head tilts just slightly at the response, his brows raised in a feigned surprise, as if more involved in the likes of idle conversation that could be so superficially crafted.. as a deviation, a distraction. "Aye, that is true. The sea is a woman quite fickle in her moods. She will one morn' grant you a sight to behold," his hands lift to gesture to either side at nothing in particular. His accent thickens as he grows darker, letting the metaphor speak as suggestively as his company here may desire to take it. It grows rougher, lower as a breathy short-lived chuckle intermingles with the words he gives, "And the next send ye'to the bottom of the abyss without remorse." There is no comment about solid ground from him, either, though that smug smirk's edge flickers slightly with what goes unsaid. Even when Ila'den's posture shifts, Kaellian simply doesn't bother to move, aside to let his arms return to his sides. That flask is tucked away lazily in an inner breast pocket of his tunic- long sleeved in even this summer weather. Partially robed in a cloak, in this summer weather. His one hand always hidden away. If anything, those leathers Ila'den wears speaks volumes more than either of them will likely say, to one who is too familiar. Despite the amusement he still displays even as the other approaches, despite the entertainment of two hunters stalking circles back and forth in test and measure, those sea-blues become far more chilly in that frigid lightness above his own abyss once that humor vanishes from the other. "She is, admittedly, hard to avoid. I think you might be able to imagine." There's a lot in that left up to the imagination, and it's very clear he intends it to be exactly that way.

But if Ila'den is perturbed by implications and ambiguous truths, those manifestations do not find markers on his face; there's no twinge of jaw, no muscles going taut, no tick in his jaw to signal anything other that his own calculatingly chilly regard. Ila'den may only possess the one eye to entertain this predatory effect with, but then perhaps that makes it all the more insidious. But for a long moment, long past the end of words, long past when it might be appropriate for Ila'den to move or be on his way, he remains; he remains without a hint of humor, without anything more than a particularly slow assessment of the man before him. "Aye, well," Ila'den finally offers, and there, in the smile that touches only one corner of his mouth, that pulls it sideways in amusement and even darker humor, "like calls to like, I suppose." And just what is that supposed to mean, Ila'den? But he doesn't elaborate or clarify, he simply moves again, to turn back towards Teimyrth whose watchful anger never gives Kaellian a respite from his rage. "But try to remember that I taught her to see the dead, empty space between the stars, and to recognize those wastelands peopled by frightened monsters." And there he goes, just like that. No farewell, no courteous waves, nothing but booted feet moving slow across the beach while Teimyrth lingers, waits until his rider is far enough away before growling once more, turning slow with that frightfully agonizing arrogance of a predator much more powerful than its pretty, and he slinks off, that midnight hide slow to join Ila'den down the beach. They gotta GET OUT OF THERE, KAELLIAN. LEIRITH IS ABOUT TO RISE, AND ILA AIN'T ABOUT THAT LIFE.

As cool, as calm, as calculated and terrible this one can be, there is an end to that intense sort of patience he keeps about him. And a trace of it is there. Right there. In that tiny flex of his scruff-lined jaw and faint fade of smirk. The way his kohl-rimmed eyes narrow just a touch, just a bit, at the other's crooked smile and cryptic.. compromise? Acceptance? Whatever it is, it's unexpected. Thus, it earns something the rest of this interaction hasn't yet. Displeasure. Don't worry though, the arrogance isn't gone from his face- that might be well near impossible. "And here I thought the stars were what I was supposed to be looking at. All that time, wasted." There's something different about his tone, though. Where humor should be, it's a little more absent as those words trail after Ila'den's departure. There's a vacancy, an emptiness in that last jest that doesn't speak of one last jab, no. He might understand what he means. He might have already had a small glimpse of it. A dangerous glimpse that might have tilted one of his cards, let one of those faces show just a little too much. It could have compromised everything because his daughter is exactly that. His daughter. For the first time since that moment when they arrived, his gaze leaves the rider for the dragon, the rage observed in turn for a few passing heart beats of time. The man of the sea looks at those faceted eyes as if it may tell him something else, but then it's dismissed as quickly as it may have come. Kaellian turns away from the both of them before Teimyrth has made much progress down the beach. The cape about him is shuffled to the side again out of his way, and he leans over to pick up those sacks and heft them over his shoulder. One may actually be tubers, with how the rounded edges protrude unevenly against the sides, but the other hangs more evenly of something left to mystery. Then, it is for the docks this time, because he's lost his landing boat and he's gotta find some way to get down the coast line. He sure is hell isn't walking.. or swimming, and someone is sure to not notice their boat being borrowed for a few hours.

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