The Plot Thickens...

Xanadu Weyr - Purgatory
While the cottage is not large, the rooms are spacious, the place constructed with an open floor plan and designed with the young at heart. Large windows allow for light to flood the area, while inside shutters may be closed for privacy. The dragon space is slightly concave, slate laid to protect the floors from sharp claws. The rest of the flooring is polished hardwood. A simple kitchenette has a dining area that juts out over the waters below, along with a breakfast nook sort of room. The living room is completed by a low, comfortable couch and a few large cushion-like pillows that when piled together make more of a nest-like seating around a small, equally low, dark wood table. Two other ground level rooms form a spacious and well furnished 'guest' room, while the other is suited more as an 'study'.

The draw for 'young ones' comes with the spiral staircase that leads to a loft bedroom, also flooded with light from the triangular window in the peak of the ceiling. Beneath that very window, rests a circular-shaped bed. Tiny pinpoints of light are imbedded in the ceiling to form 'stars' when the main lights are extinguished. Encircling the spiral staircase is a slide — a fast and fun way to get back downstairs. Affixed from the stout beam that runs the length of the peaked ceiling is a thick rope swing. For those… rainy days.

How long has it been since D'lei came back to stain the flight cottage's sheets with blood? Well, he certainly has no idea, given how he's been drifting from fellis-drugged sleep to fellis-dazed half-awake. But! It's at least been enough time that the most immediate of the exhaustion and over-exertion have eased. That gash along his side is still making the healers do frowny faces - apparently pink and yellow are better in a sunrise than around an injury - but… it'll get there. Right? He's even been smuggled out of the flight cottage on a stretcher - under cover of night, of course - to be tucked away at home. The healers would probably have preferred the infirmary, but RISA HAD NEEDS, OKAY??? and the medical desires for observation weren't so stringent as to have her overruled. They just wrote out another list of Signs To Watch Out For instead, and… welcome to your own bed, D'lei. Actually, he's been super ambitious while the others were out today, and he's made his way down the stairs to sit on the couch instead. Just… don't ask him to move back for another three hours or so. He needs a bit of time to recover his strength… which is what he's currently doing, leaning back with his not-stitched side to the plush and with his eyes closed. He's not asleep. You're asleep. He's just… resting. Yeah.

IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG, THAT IS HOW LONG. But you are damn right about Risali having needs - and anyway, it's easier to keep people from trying to hound your Weyrleader about his duties when he's somewhere three dragons can keep strangers from intruding in upon. Well two, anyway. Leirith is probably encouraging attempted break-ins for the sake of preserving the spirit of Xanadu's badassery. And there is the potential of a swordfight. Chicks dig sword fights. Risali? Well, she is shouldering Weyrleader, Senior Weyrwoman, and half of the Junior's duties in the mean time, which means for as much as Risali attempts to do a good portion of her work from home (while probably harassing Ila'den and R'hyn and occasionally Th'ero for their Weyrleading expertise), there are just some things she can't escape having to be there in person for. TODAY WAS ONE OF THOSE DAYS, when politics meant meetings and concerns about a lack of Weyrleader meant Risali having to answer questions and here she is now, looking harassed when she stomp indoors to escape from a storm that she is pretty sure started brewing when the atmosphere sensed her mood. She's mocking words that were said to her under her breath, with little faces and voices for each and a GREAT BIG ROLL OF HER EYES that lands them on D'lei. She jumps. She honest to Faranth jumps when she finds one half-dead (LET HER BE DRAMATIC) weyrmate occupying Sacred Couch Space when she expected him to be half-dead upstairs. And for a long moment she just stares at him, hair wild, eyes wide, and then narrowing as she looks away to finish pulling off boots and shedding layers along with a bit of wetness. She is still a little wet when she gets closer, her shirt and pants damp, her hair BEING RUDE as she LEANS OVER and presses a kiss to D'lei's brow. Fingers curl along his jaw as if she means to hold him in place, as she presses another kiss to nose, then cheek, then lips and shifts away to RUDELY INVADE SO SHE CAN CHECK HIS WOUNDS. If he opens his eyes? There will be a soft smile and a, "Hey," waiting for him. If not? Well, Risa will just go about her work in silence and then wait for K'vir if bandages need changing. WHAT? It's not that she's afraid to do it, but she's not the one trained in rescue and she can concede to the fact that there are people in the world who will do it not just better, but right. OKAY? OKAY. HAVE MY SPAM.

NOW HAVE THE OPPOSITE OF SPAM! K'vir is certainly there, if not a moment or so behind Risa's return home. He's missed her jump at finding half-dead (not really) D'lei on the couch, which may be a blessing in disguise. HE doesn't jump, but he's definitely frowning. LOOK AT THAT DISAPPROVAL (not)! There might even be a slight click of his tongue and everyone just ignore his silent inner fussing (he's totally not going to be the mother hen here of this trio… okay, maybe he will be). Bandages? He has. He can definitely oversee the less trickier nuances of Healer-type tasks! If Risa wants to do it, he'll leave her to it and just… correct if need be. For now, though, he's content to just sneaky sneak his way in and just bustle about as though all is PERFECTLY NORMAL (it isn't, this is him coping folks don't break his happy bubble) right now. Eventually though, K'vir flirts with potential death and/or fury, by drifting closer to the couch and murmuring a low spoken suggestion to Risa in the form of: "You should probably let him sleep." UNLESS IT'S TOO LATE.

It's like people are concerned about a potential lack of Weyrleading. Like maybe they don't trust Risa, at least not to be in charge of all the things. Which is tragic, clearly, and entirely unmerited, but… well. Such is the way of the world! It could be worse, at least; for one thing, D'lei could be all the way dead instead of only half… but also, there is a former senior around here who's willing to put aside dragonhealing for long enough to HELP RUN THINGS. And Soriana's got herself a former-Weyrleader weyrmate and three teenaged assistants under her command, so, THERE IS HELP… but that particular kind of help is of no actual assistance when it comes to people being worried about the state of the current leadership as opposed to the ancient has-been leadership who has let the world pass them by. BUT. D'lei is in fact at least half (okay, he's definitely at least a quarter) not-dead, as evinced by the way he does open his eyes. And that's on top of the stairs to get here. RECKLESS DASH. There's a smile, and a tug of his mouth to the side. "Mmh." Sleep. He knows sleep. "…probably." Yeah, he should. The healers would agree! But… since when has 'should' made a difference here? The corner of his mouth shifts, changing from smile to frown. "Don't really have time for it, though." NEVER MIND that his calendar has been expressly cleared of all commitments beyond EAT SLEEP BANDAGES, it's not like he always obeys it even when it's got more normal meetings.

Right, okay. So maybe she has also pulled Soriana and all those ancient, wise Xanadu-leader types into the fray, but yes. They can only help her so much, as has been established. LIKE RISALI CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH ABOUT D'LEI AND HIS CONQUEST OF THE STAIRS. See, Risali is just as reckless, and so it's kind of this thing of I know I would do it, but also I'm worried about you so be careful that she doesn't say, but certainly communicates by way of fingers and lips because non-verbal communication is easier for the goldrider than verbal. Then there is K'vir, who Risali heard, but who she, for some reason, does not expect to be there when she looks up. So Risali jumps again, that momentary look of startled recognition coming and going with a knitting of brows and the pull of lips that says she just might be fantasizing about punching both of the bronzerider in her immediate vicinity because that's JUMP TWO FOR TWO. Instead she's huffing a soft answer for D'lei's reply, rolling grey eyes towards blues as she exhales, "Have you met our weyrmate?" HE'S AS STUBBORN AS THEY ARE. But then she's on the move, towards K'vir, placing one hand between his hip and his stomach as she goes up on the tips of her toes and leans in to press a kiss against sternum and - if he BENDS DOWN - to his lips. "You should change his bandage," she offers on a soft murmur, because of course she trusts K'vir to do this. And then she's giving him a pat before she moves away, into the kitchen, to retrieve so glasses of water in the hopes that she can make D'lei drink and possibly hydrate K'vir if he needs some. Just ignore her taking sips from both of their cups. IT'S HER PRIVILEGE. "So what did the stairs do to deserve this, Dash?" she inquires, settling onto the arm of the couch with drinks extended in offer.

If there is one who has their priorities backwards in concern, it would be K'vir. He's not so much concerned about the lack of Weyrleading, but more for those who are BEHIND it all. There's a distinct lack of his usual smugness for making Risali jump a second time, but any apology is left unsaid. It's silently returned as he does, in fact, bend down to receive that kiss from her. Briefly, he may attempt to snare her within the curve of his arm in a fleeting embrace, but it won't be long before he's stepping closer to D'lei well before she's finished voicing that suggestion. "Yeah, I could do that," K'vir answers easily, though in a tone suggesting only if the other bronzerider agrees… though honestly, even he doesn't, it's GONNA HAPPEN eventually! And if D'lei isn't already tiring of all the attention, K'vir will sneak in a kiss of his own and other quick gestures of affection. A touch here, a touch there and then it's to business, if he hasn't been brushed off by this point. It'll give him something to focus on, at least, while Risa returns with water and inquiries.

TAKE THAT, LEIRITH. EVEN NOW, D'LEI CAN CONQUER STAIRS. There's a quirk of his lips, and then… "They're probably a mess," is his observation about the bandages. Maybe because, y'know, he exerted himself going down the stairs, and maybe he did have a moment when he bumped into the wall on the side. It's okay, the wall was a jerk to start with! Dash lifts up the arm on that side - carefully, but even so there's the tense of jaw from the motion - and traces his fingers along Kyzen's arm as he tilts his head for a kiss before moving it aside. Just because he's got to be medically tended, that doesn't mean he's going to not do things. It's like physical therapy, making sure that everything still works. Underneath the bandages, once K'vir gets the old one off, there's definitely more seepage than usual - some of it in the colors that the healers disapprove of - but at least he hasn't torn any of the stitches. (This time.) The arm on that side is tucked out of the way - K'vir's shoulder is a good place for that, or Risali's once the younger bronzerider starts working - and he takes the glass in his other one. What'd those stairs do? "They dared me." And who is he to refuse a dare? "Besides. People are talking." HE KNOWS.

HOW EXTREMELY RUDE OF YOU TO RUB THAT IN LEIRITH'S FACE. SHE HAS WINGS, OKAY. SHE CAN CONQUER THEM STAIRS SO GOOD. SO GOOD. Anyway, the important part now is less Leirith and stairs and more D'lei and stairs. And wounds. And stitches. It's Risali's answering grimace for that tensed jaw and both of her hands curling around D'lei's wrist once water is dispatched and his hand transfers from K'vir's shoulder to hers. But while K'vir works, Risali provides DISTRACTION by way of mischievous, nose-scrunching smiles, by administering a gentle flick to his elbow because SOMETIMES SHE THINKS THINGS THROUGH, and she knows that hitting him is the worst idea. "They are inanimate, Dash. Did you hit your head as well? How many fingers am I holding up?" BUT SHE IS TEASING, that smile fading as it comes to conversation about business and those grey eyes shift away from amber, roll up to the ceiling because he's not wrong, but fuck those people. Which is exactly what she says: "People are always talking, D'lei. I can handle them, you just focus on getting better." Even if maybe she did tell that one lord holder that she'd kick his ass if it proved to him that she could handle it. SHE IS LEARNING OKAY. And anyway, it shut him up. But K'vir finishes, moving away to tend perhaps to disposal or to get undressed and Risali is shifting, moving to settle herself on the couch, pulling D'lei's legs over her own and tracing patterns from his knee up along his thigh. There she pauses, flattening her hand as grey eyes shift to find amber and Risali maybe admits bad things but uses humor to do it. "Well, we were almost twins, anyway. Kaellian drew his sword on me." A beat, a half-smile lacking humor as she looks away again. "I deserved it, of course. But imagine the panic if we were both missing." Breathy laughter, another pause, and then, tentative, "Are you okay, Dash?" She knows about his physical state, so cut her some slack okay. SHE IS CLEARLY ASKING OTHER THINGS.

"I know," D'lei says, with a huff of disapproval that's less thoroughly acted out than usual. "Just plain refused to move for me." Objects can be such jerks, sometimes. For that matter… so can people. D'lei frowns, with a sigh that's abbreviated into a wince as that involves his torso too much, and then a crooked smile. He reaches up, brushing his fingers to Risali's arm as she tucks his legs over her. "Those asses, you can kick," he says. Because maybe he has some ideas about how Risa works, okay???. The smile tugs away into frown quickly enough, even if Risali does use humor. "He's not our biggest problem." They're stark words, and then a non-amused upward quirk of one corner of his mouth. "Not unless he slices and dices us, anyhow." Swords have a remarkable ability to focus the mind and body of whoever's facing the sharp and pointy ends of them, after all. D'lei sighs again, more carefully this time, and his gaze drifts away toward the ceiling to look at its blank expanse and gather his thoughts against that canvas. "I… ended up on a smuggler route," he says, the words not particularly eager to come out and his gaze remaining upward. "Went… a few places. A few camps, of… various sorts." Amber eyes flick to Risali's, then away again with a grimace. "They had whers. Not just one or two, but… I think someone's breeding them."

"How rude of them," Risali confirms, because of course the stairs should have sprouted some legs - literally - and helped D'lei down them. Somehow. A MYSTERY ONLY THE STAIRS KNOW THE ANSWER TO. Risali's answering smile about asses getting kicked, however, is riddled with a hint of self-deprecation, with a huff that might have been laughter but gets aborted before it can find completion. "Well, I did tell one lord holder he could go fuck himself. So I would say my diplomatic skills are improving." There's a crooked smile, one aiming for humor, one dissipating again when Kaellian's sword-use is utilized as a segue into that. Risali's mouth opens, closes, and for a moment it seems like the goldrider doesn't know what to stay. She just stares, working through her own thoughts and her own words, willing the fingers squeezing D'lei's thigh to loosen even if she's not gripping him hard enough to bruise. "Whers?" comes almost breathless, and suddenly Risali is working through Leirith's AMUSEMENT of her EXTREMELY STUNTED COUSINS because of course she's one of the only dragons in existence who doesn't scorn them for not being as intelligent. NOT IMPORTANT. "Faranth, D'lei. How did they get their hands on whers?" Not that she expects him to have an answer for her disbelief, but listen. "Were they bonded?" OR JUST UNBONDED MONSTERS READY TO FUCK UP SOMEBODY'S SHIT?

Is the improvement in telling that lord holder to go fuck himself, or that Risali only told one of them that? GOOD QUESTION, but… really, not one that's actually important enough to be the one they dwell on right now. Politics - at that level - aren't as likely to end in pointy swords and/or teeth. Unlike… "Yeah," D'lei says, with a sidewards pull of his mouth and then a drag of his eyes to Risali, to look to her as she works through what he pieced through. "I thought maybe hold whers, at first… but we'd have heard." One or two of the watch-whers gone missing with their handlers might pass beneath notice, but… not to the extent he saw. "A lost mine? A trader family?" Are those even plausible? They're theories, at least, and right now, that's about what Dash has. "I think some are bonded. They…" His jaw sets with displeasure, a momentary clench before he moves it again for words. "They have them fighting each other." Not just whers, but enough whers to be used for renegade bloodsport. "I… shards, how would you even tell if one of those was bonded?"

BOTH. Probably. But definitely not important because there are whers and that is definitely Not Good. "I assume some of them would have to be, if they're breeding them," Risali whispers, her breath catching in her lungs, in her throat, grey eyes closing against the mental onslaught of those pictures that D'lei's words paint for her imagination to take hold of. "They're making them fight?" she asks almost helpless, focusing on the question about how to tell if one is bonded by… rolling her shoulders, shaking her head to clear away emotions and opening her eyes again to find amber with grey, brows knit together in… empathy, in anger, in confusion. "I…" Don't know much about whers, she starts to say, because it's true. "I thought that bonded whers could communicate better, that unbonded whers were viciously unpredictable at best. But I don't know." Getting a dragon to talk to them? But how do you even sneak a dragon into something like that. "What can we do, Dash?" And how do they figure out the how to prevent this from happening again?

"I don't know," D'lei says, with the strain behind the words of so many things he doesn't know. Dragons? Sure, he's got that. But whers? They're not dragons, they're not firelizards, they're… not even in the middle, exactly. In terms of brains, maybe, but definitely not in terms of bodies, and they have a pile of quirks all their own that have never been something he's needed to know… until now. D'lei's grimace and faint nod is the answer about the fights, because he'd rather not dwell on what his mind can play back against that blank backdrop of a ceiling. His eyes meet hers instead, the memories making only shadows in them, and he nods. "…me either. Are they vicious because they're unbonded, or are they vicious because they're being trained for… something." What? He doesn't know, and yet Dashiel is pretty sure already he does not like it. Even if it's just arena fights, he already dislikes it, but that's only the start of the terrible things that someone could do with attack whers. "We…" He grimaces, shifts a little to try to ease the strain on that wound from muscles tensed by the conversation. "We need to stop it. I don't know how, or… what we can do with the whers…" Savage and untrained, or… trained by renegade handlers. Neither option is pleasant. "Maybe the miners can tell us… something."

And there is a very real fear there, a moment when Risali's attention goes towards the room so often occupied by three of their four children, to D'lei, and his wound and then… to Leirith. Those eyes close, maybe against tears, maybe simply against too much emotion, maybe to stomp out mounting panic before she really knows what she is reacting to because there's no point in hindering herself mentally if she doesn't have to. But those grey eyes blink open, find amber to hold as she interrupts the direction of the conversation with another admittance. "I'm going to let R'hyn raise Zyriden," she breathes. You know, that BABY SHE DROPPED LITERALLY ON HIS HEAD WHILE D'LEI WAS GONE. Brows knit and Risali's thumb comes up to smooth over it, as if she can sweep away the tension in her own body with it. "I… I wanted to talk to you when you were better, but. I think… maybe with all of this, we should send all of them to Half Moon for a little while." A painful thought, but one she's settling on to maybe protect them. "At least until we can figure out what to do." And then a heartbeat, a pause, a moment too long as Risali tries to find words and settles on a hushed, "Are you going to leave again?" And there's trepidation to be found in the way the words waver even as determination keeps Risali's chin up. It's not because she doesn't trust D'lei, it's not because she's going to try to stop him, but because if he is going to go, if that hint of resignation to what she suspects might already be the answer is true, then there's a possibility he won't come back again.

D'lei stops, in that way where his breath pauses and his body goes still as he takes in that change of topic that really isn't all that unrelated after all. There's a moment of stillness, and then an inward tug of one corner of his mouth and an inhale of breath once more. He gives a nod, but then… he stops again, his gaze tracking down Risali, over to the bedroom where those children - their children… "Shards." SHIT IS REAL. "…they'll be happy there," is what he says after a long moment, and he mostly means in the short term, in those days and weeks until this is figured out, but… well. It's not like there's a limit to how long they can stay there, and if something… happens… to their parents, they can at least still have family. "It's not like we don't visit," he says - though it's as consolation for himself as much as anything else - and then sighs out slowly as he seeks Risali's hand to capture her fingers and curl them in with his. He's quiet to her question, not having an immediate answer beyond that touch and pressure, the familiar shapes and warmth. "If I have to," he answers finally. The words are soft, his gaze distant before he focuses back to Risali with a wry tug of his lips. "When I have to." The day will come when he - or Garouth - is what's needed, because that's what it does. "I can send…" There's a hesitation, a pause as he tries to figure out a name - and a grimace. "…someone else." Who? Good question. "Especially with… this." His gesture indicates that injury. "I'd like to stay." But someone needs to go.

Risali's body echoes that stillness, holding her own breath in anticipation, perhaps a part of her relieved when D'lei doesn't question her decision. But she offers an explanation anyway, because Zyriden is not just hers, he is theirs — as are all of their children. "We will still get him a lot. He will still have you and Kyzen, just… he will have two families who love him. Because…" A pull of lips as she closes off that though, because that line of thought can wait for another time. Those explanations only need saying so much. "If we think it's the wrong choice, we can revisit it when we bring them back." And there is a determination in that statement, as if Risali is not giving there an option for another outcome. They will figure it out, they will survive, and they will bring their children home. And when D'lei says he will go back if he has to, Risali's head dips in a nod, those eyes close as she looks away and gives herself a moment to work through her own emotions. "Okay," she whispers, not bothering to tell him to be safe if he goes because he already knows and anyway, she can tell him that if he does leave again. For now she's blinking open her eyes, shifting that tiny body to pitch herself sideways and come down on D'lei's chest opposite his wound. She presses a kiss to his shoulder, to his collarbone, to his jaw. "You should rest," she whispers, because he should. "I'll make Kyzen princess carry you up the stairs when you're ready. Then we foil the plots of stairs, and I get to enjoy the view." HUMOR. She lives by it, even if right now the humor is half felt.

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