For Science

Xanadu Weyr - Forest
The trees grow thickly here, avians nesting in their branches and flitting about after insects. Flowers sprout up and speckle the ground between, the green of small plants and their blooms of bright saffron and cheeky rose that creep all the way up to the bases of the trees and adorn the fallen leaves and mulch of the forest floor. Those trees rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade, the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.
A path winds its leisurely way through the trees, wide enough for wagons to pass. As it goes through into the forest, a number of other trails branch away, both more and less traveled. Many of them lead to private weyrs, but there's a few more trodden paths - notable among them a road to the feeding grounds, set against the western slopes.
The forest grows wilder the further north one goes, deep growth and ancient places, and the road splits in two against it. One branch leads to a clearing with a large stone building finished with wooden cladding, while the other turns back toward the meadow. Just before it emerges, a trail veers off to the Firelizard Theatre.

Somewhere along the way Nessalyn lost her whiskey bottle, and while she's still pleasantly buzzed, she's not tripping over her own feet or otherwise too intoxicated to function. "That's the way to the Innovation Hall," she gestures down the road toward the building, almost dismissing the importance of the building in the same moment that she points it out. Most of the tour thus far has been bullshit, but there's the occasional fact sprinkled in with all the lies. Unfortunately, Nessalyn has a remarkable poker face, so picking out the truth from the not patently ridiculous lies isn't exactly easy. She leads the way toward some of the weyrs, offset from the path as they are. "Stay there." This instruction is given before she jumps up to grab a low-hanging branch, amanging to swing herself up on to it with some wiggling and grunting. Once up, she proceeds to climb a bit higher, using this new vantage point to try to look into the windows of the nearest weyr. "I need your shoe!" She calls down, shifting among the branches to try to peek at the man below. "Throw it up to me."

Unlike his current guide, the rum bottle he had taken (stolen) from the cafe still remains in his pleased possession. A third of it is gone now, the remainder swishing in rhythm with his pace. Kaellian ghosts just behind and to the side of Nessalyn, a stride separating them. His boot-falls are relatively soft for his size, but notable as they leave the heavier trafficked areas and land to crunch on wayward sticks and debris. A good portion of the beginning of this had been with his mouth shut, a reprieve from his retorts for the sheer sake she surprised him with an affirmative- regardless of underlying devious plans. Approval of her timing, too, was there in the mischievous light blue of eyes otherwise cast to darkness, their chill not as brisk as the dangerous warmth that sits there. It's about 50 - half of the time he looks towards what she indicates, the rest, he's watching her with that intensity he tends to. Observing, watching. The smug grin has faded over time, and it's more a humored neutral by the time the pass the Innovation Hall. A deep-chested chuckle arises at one point, though whether it's because he knows she's spouting nonsense or because of some other thought, he lets it go. "You should do this more often." He states, casually, his brows rising as his attention follows her up the tree. The man, despite his typical tendencies, follows that order out of simple curiosity of what the hell is she doing now. That expression would become abruptly furrowed in confused amusement, his arms spreading to either side in question, "Why don't you use your own bloody shoe?"

CUE RISALI. Kind of. Sort of. A little bit. See, while Leirith might be about as quiet as a rhinoceros in heat, Risali actually has some practice in the art of taking off her shoes, of walking on the balls of her feet and sticking to those paths that offer more of a cushion than the threat of dead foliage. She's tied off her hair in a messy bun today, traded leathers for a material that doesn't make so much noise when she moves, and came into the forest equipped with a bow, one quiver, and a quiver full of arrows. Risali might not be a hunter, but she was raised by a man who starved or thrived by how well he hunted in his youth, by a man who had the foresight to ensure his children stood a chance against impossible odds rather than simply shelter them from the fact that sometimes you had to do ugly things to survive because the worst had happened to him too. This is irrelevant except that it is important to clarify the point of how well Risali handles the time-honored tool because she was handling a bow long before she had the cognitive ability to remember the first time one was placed into her hands. She was after game, looking to let go of a tension that came long before Leirith's flight, that started to fester after because this is how Risali deals with things she doesn't want to confront - she moves. But hunting game becomes a game when she hears Nessalyn (because how could she not hear Nessalyn?), and maybe that's why she's making the (probably very poor) decision to sneak up on Kaellian, to move in behind him low, and slow with bow drawn and arrow notched and poised. POKE. RIGHT IN HIS BACK. And slowly but surely, Risali comes out of that crouch - with just enough bend in her knees and anticipating tension to move if he reacts violently. She might not make it away in time, but that doesn't mean she won't try. BUT NOTE THAT SHE IS BAREFOOT, and while grey eyes flicker for half a second up towards Nessalyn containing trees, it's Kaellian she address with a mischievously amused, "Well go on then, Captain. Give her your shoe." FOR SCIENCE.

Nessalyn wobbles a little on her perch, gripping the branch beside her head tightly to prevent any accidents. Falling from this height probably wouldn't kill her, but it's best not to take any chances. "I don't like company enough do this more often." Or helping people. Or explaining things in an even remotely truthful way. She tightens her grip on one branch before swinging her feet over to another, awkwardly balanced as she reaches for the next branch ahead with her hands. Tipsy though she might be, the very real possibility of injury seems to be a boon for the attention she's giving her every movement — although the very fact that she's willing to throw herself into a tree speaks more to her level of intoxication. Again, she leans over, twisting her head to stare at him through the foliage. "Because I need my shoes to climb, obviously. Throw me your damn shoe!" For a moment it looks as though she might continue, but her mouth closes again as she continues to look at him expectantly. It could be that she's just waiting for her demands to be met — but more likely she spotted Risali at his back, and now she's just going to popcorn.gif from her perch in the tree as she awaits his reaction.

"Yet you make for spectacular company." Kaellian responds, though for whatever joke or truth that may be, it's difficult to ascertain given the distracted, offhanded nature of his tone as he watches her teeter at her height above him. Those spread arms fall back to his side as he exhales a sigh. There's no point in bothering to stop her, but his interest in whatever she's doing now apparently has him roped into assisting- a terrible deal this has turned out to be. It's a shame that the distraction curves what has been crafted in him for turns. That over-awareness that borders on paranoia created and manipulated by trial and travesty. That caution that bridges wake and sleep cycles without remorse because without it, there would be no morn'. The sort that started long ago before he ever stepped foot on a ship, and continued long after in the face of the ever-potentially mutinous crews. It wasn't always the sea that gives one who lives upon her trouble, no, for she is neutral- both loving and hateful without distinction, without limit or mercy. This is all to say that the ever-present patience the man has shown thus far with the flickered hints of temper remained just-barely 'neath the surface when really pushed, is simply not there when a sharp object comes in contact with him. Whatever mask he has put on here for the this land he's invaded is fumbled. The serpent's luring warmth to draw the innocent is lost to the hardness of ice and the weight of bloodied hands, and a darkness that speaks for him. When he spins, and he does with the swiftness of one expecting that poke to impale, that cutlass at his side is drawn with the song of metal upon metal in freeing it from its sheath. It is a grace that speaks of far more than a decade of having picked up a sword and not put it down again. Of self-preservation. There is control there, though. He'd rather not dampen Xanadu soils with blood so early on. But he would check that weapon with the brilliance of the silver blade. And hopefully Risali isn't that close because he has full intent to face the 'assaulter' rather than an instant desire to maim. He is vengeance driven, not thoughtless. Everything is done for a reason. And then……. instant recognition- "Bloody hell… damnit all, Risali…." BARELY ANY TIME AFTER HER OWN DAMN FATHER FACED HIM DOWN ON THE BEACH. "…..What do you think you're doing." It comes as far more a growl than anything else. What does it matter? It's her Weyr! The shoe, for a moment, goes forgotten, guys. Sorry.

You would think that not sneaking up on people who rely on paranoia to keep breathing would have been lesson 101 for Risali, and yet… There is no denying that spirit of recklessness in Xanadu's Weyrwoman, that something wild and unwilling to be tamed, some inner fire that refuses to be tempered and snuffed merely for the sake of propriety and living up to those expectations society casts upon people of her calling, people of her rank. There's a spark of it now in grey eyes when Kaellian draws his sword and turns to her in fluid movement, an appreciation, perhaps, for the effortless way in which he turns to face a threat as opposed to running from it, and while there's no mistaking that hint of anticipation in her stance, that stalling of breath in her lungs half in surprise, half in preparation to move, Risali stills herself. Slowly, very slowly, her arm bow relaxes, that hand in possession of lethal arrows slowly pulling away from the hand in possession of her bow until both hands are up on either side of her head, wrapped around two parts of a whole. Those grey eyes drop back to that blade, and then Risali knits her brows before looking up and away, clearly trusting that Kaellian isn't about to run her through on his sword, no matter the growl he addresses her with. "Forgetting," she answers, honest despite the ambiguity of her statement, "and something very stupid." That much is clear, but Risali is shifting again, dropping arrow into quiver and lowering her arms as she looks away from Nessalyn and back to Kaellian. "Are you going to give her your boot?" A beat, and, "NESSALYN, IF HE DOESN'T GIVE YOU HIS BOOT, I SUGGEST A STRATEGIC FALL FROM THE TREE ONTO HIS HEAD, AND THEN TAKING HIS BOOT." Ah, and there. There's mischief in that smile, a wrinkling of her nose in good humor as she looks from pirate, to techcrafter, to SHINY POINTY STICK OF DOOM and… finds it in herself to give Kaellian a flicker of something wry before she whispers, "Sorry."

Nessalyn is about 92% sure that Kaellian isn't going to stab Risali, but her body still tenses as that weapon is drawn and turned in the woman's direction. She's not here to be party to the murder of the Weyrwoman, even if none of it is her fault and she's entirely uninvolved. That's the kind of attention you just don't shake. "SHE'S MAKING XANADU A SAFER PLACE." Nessalyn calls down, rather cheery about the whole thing. Being perched safely (or at least somewhat safely) in a tree does tend to make one a little careless about the barbs one tosses to people armed with swords. Granted, Nessalyn is almost always careless about her barbs, but the tree only makes it worse. While the thought of 'falling' out of the tree onto Kaellian does draw a brief laugh from the woman, it's met with a near-invisible shake of her head. "Not until he puts the weapon away," she returns, her voice only raised enough to be heard from the foliage. "Otherwise we'll both end up on the wrong end of that thing, and I don't intend to be impaled on anything belonging to him. Ever." WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE. There's some rustling from up above, followed by the sound of a loud snap and a grunt of effort. Something comes falling out of the tree, although it's not Nessalyn. It's a branch, one with enough heft to at least sting if it hits, even if it won't knock the man out. It's aimed right at his head. "GIVE ME YOUR DAMN BOOT." A moment's consideration, then she adds, "THE WEYRWOMAN TOLD YOU TO." Because as much as she might not like to admit it, Risali's word does have a bit more heft than her demands. "And don't think for a second that I don't have cogs on me right now."

It takes a second for that ice to melt a little. A long second. Time enough for him to see what Risali has drawn near him, her reaction- that raising of her hands, that withdrawing of her weapon. And the entire time, his cutlass stays where it is. A man not used to having to sway, not used to lacking the follow through with his threats. His jaw works as he revokes his action, tries to reconstruct what he may have lost completely. "I doubt th-" It's no less still growled, but cut off abruptly when he is struck afterall. In the head, by a branch. The pointy stick of doom is lowered, then, because his free hand rises to his head and he's stumbling a couple of steps away, ducking, as the branch clunk-rustles to the ground just beside where he'd been. Obscenities are cursed under his breath, though short-lived, before he finally looks upwards. "Though that seems to be on your mind, love. And I don't blame you at all." IT'S FINE TO WANT ALL THIS. The reply doesn't hold the humor he usually has, but it does come. Eventually, the cutlass is swept up a short distance to be replaced into its shealth in a liquid motion. Confirmation of that 92%, and that willingness of Risali to look away before it happens. The metallic ring is loud against the forest. Louder, it seems to him, than the original draw and potential grievous mistake. That left hand wrapped in thread-bare black cloth is busied by thumb caressing the backs of those rings of his. There was not tension in him when he drew his cutlass, but there seems to be now. Something he's actively working on trying get rid of. Dashing rapscallion is a little less handsome (if that's even possible) with that look on his face, that thing that accentuates every hazardous edge and angle of him, and reminds of all the foreboding questions his presence brings with him. Right hand now emptied of weapon scrubs over his face roughly. Seablues search greys when he's through, and then he takes a long inhale, and equally long sigh before he's kneeling to remove a boot. There's lightness in his reply, then, his normal gravel-touched tones and faintly humored sarcasm granted, "Alright, fine. So be it. If that's what the ladies want." They're tall boots, okay, it's not so quick to take off. BUT IT HAPPENS. And he chucks it up to Ness. It's not his fault if it smells, either. He's pretty damn clean for a pirate, but it's hard to not have somewhat smelly boots, no matter the amount of socks, in a forever-damp floaty house.

Look, Risali knows it's impolite to laugh at wayward branches falling from wayward trees, thrown by really wayward techcrafters, but it's hard not to. She doesn't outright laugh, but there is an involuntary twitch at the corner of her lips before she ducks behind one hand and looks away, letting Kaellian live out this SUDDEN BUT INEVITABLE BETRAYAL by his techcrafting companion with maybe some dignity left intact. And up those grey eyes go, up to that tree, up to find Nessalyn hidden in so much foliage as she finally comments on innuendo about getting impaled by pirates with, "I don't know, Nessalyn. I might consider letting him impale you; he seems to know how to wield a sword." She's just biting down on her bottom lip because SHUT UP, THAT'S WHY. It's definitely not because she's fighting back laughter again, even if her eyes BETRAY HER when she looks back to Kaellian, when grey eyes meet with seablue and hold, that everything that makes Risali Risali dancing in depths that only seem to grow with humor as he goes about removing his boot. "Such a gentleman," Risali offers, just a touch breathless because she's stifling laughter around words and applying that humor to her diction instead. And then she falters, drops her gaze as another flicker of a smile - brief, lacking humor, brimming with self-deprecation - comes and goes. It takes a moment for her to shift, but she does; she pulls another arrow from quiver, brings it back against bow but keeps her aim pointed low, no pull on the bow. Maybe she's looking for words because those brows knit, and lips part on the verge of saying something, but something just turns into an almost grimace when her lips come back together, transitions to an exhale as Risali finds another smile even if it comes muted. "Excuse me." And just like that she's gone, walking past the mystery of WHY BOOTS WERE NEEDED AND WHAT FATE AWAITS THEM, calling out, "YOU'RE WELCOME!" for Nessalyn in passing because her thoughts catching up doesn't mean she has to bury her humor completely, but her aim is further into those amassing trees, further away from two people she still owes apologies to and one weyrmate that still hasn't emerged from that cottage. MAYBE RISA KILLED HIM, AND MAYBE SHE'S JUST LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO DUMP THE BODY. WE MAY NEVER KNOW.

It's a PERFECTLY REASONABLE RESPONSE to laugh at someone being conked over the head with a stray branch, Risali. It's okay. No one blames you. Certainly not Nessalyn, who grins down with deep pride when her projectile hits its mark. "You shouldn't stand under trees," she offers with false innocence, her toothy smile slightly predatorial. It fades quickly, however, with the commentary on her 'impaling joke'. "You're a walking innuendo, of course it's on my mind," she retorts, leaning over a branch to scowl down at him and nearly flipping herself over it in the process. She does manage to catch herself before she goes tumbling and runs the very real risk of actually landing on one of them, but it's a close thing. "I'm betting his sword is a little… scratched up from overuse. A few dings to the blade." Yes, that's right Kaellian, SHE JUST IMPLIED THAT YOU HAVE LOVE BUMPS ON YOUR DING-DONG. There's a good deal that Nessalyn misses, half-disguised in the tree as she is, but blue eyes do spy the man undoing his boot. There's a prideful smirk on her lips as she descends a few branches to better catch that boot when it comes flying in her direction. She almost fumbles it as she tries to catch one-handed while still managing to hold on to a branch, but her fingers get a grip and she hugs it tightly to her chest for safekeeping. "Oh, gross." Yeah, there's a smell. But she ignores it as she climbs up again, higher now than before. In fact, she's completely invisible amidst the leaves. "THANKS!" It's a rare, almost unheard of show of gratitude shouted in Risali's direction, the goldrider's exit unseen by the techcrafter up in her perch. There's some rustling, followed by a swear from the woman. Something cracks. And then there's a war cry, as SOMETHING goes flying from the tree, landing somewhere out of sight with a dull thud. Nessalyn is laughing as she slips down between the branches, no boot in sight. She makes it all the way down to the bottom before she loses her grip, falling the last bit of distance out of the tree and landing hard on the ground. It's not far enough to do more than bruise, but she still lays there, swearing under her breath. There's something slightly off about the timing of the tumble, but she does seem genuinely winded by the fall. "Your boot is over there," she indicates with a bit of effort, pointing in the direction of the projectile. "You should go get it while I catch my breath." Spoiler alert: there's no boot over there. Even bigger spoiler alert: if he goes after it, she'll be gone by the time he gets back.

Once the boot is out of his possession, Kaellian has straightened to his normal poise, though he's rubbing his head with his good hand as if to check for the crimson sign of more than just a welt being earned by that offensive piece of tree. But instead of blood, his fingers pull bits of leaf and twig out of his hair. It's observed for a beat, and then disgarded with blatent distaste. Gaze travels up again, unimpressed and brows raised, now a little more wary for falling objects. THIS ISNT THE FIRST TIME SHES HIT HIM IN THE HEAD WITH THINGS. "And you shouldn't be up in one." Risali's addition to those suggestive comments does bring about the pull of the left corner of his mouth in a slight but nerfarious grin. Kaellian's back to how he was, for better or for worse, thin facade intact. But he doesn't miss whatever those slight changes are to the weyrwoman. Isn't sure how to interpret them. And isn't prompted to chase her down to find out. For now. Whether she's got a body to bury or some other excuse, he only briefly follows after her with his gaze before returning it to the tree limbs and Nessalyn above- it's for his own safety to do so. Clearly. The scowl he's earned makes that grin spread just enough to touch the corners of his eyes as he watches her, "I take very good care of my weapons. Not a knick to be found. Though, I suppose it's something you'll just have to find out for yourself. What was that you said before? The Weyrwoman told you to?" BECAUSE THATS EXACTLY WHAT RISALI MEANT. There's a much more audible chuckle at the 'gross' response following the exchange of that boot, the sound arising from deep in his chest but less restrained. Then, there's the waiting with.. some amount of impatience amidst the ruckus. He even takes a moment to look down the trail where Risali had gone off to, before abruptly swearing, a crack, a war cry. Exasperation has him raising an arm towards wherever that thing flew, gesturing, "Really?" Because any other question, he already knows the answer to. A roll of sea-churned too-light eyes and he turns to leave her on the ground where she fell. And go get the boot… That isn't there. And to probably sing her praises in lengthy muttered curses on the way back.

Meanwhile, Kaellian's boot lives on, high up in that tree. And if he doesn't retrieve it, Nessalyn will be back later to claim her prize, to be left somewhere strange and embarrassing at a later date. Moral of the story? Never do what Risali tells you to do. Or just don't trust Nessalyn.

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