Poorly Conceived

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.

It's mid-afternoon, and the well-trodden paths of the forsest have a decent number of people traveling this way and that, busy with their various daily tasks. It's a totally normal day. Or at least as normal as any day at Xanadu, which isn't saying much. Just off the beaten path, Nessalyn has claimed a small patch of land behind a tree. The engineer has 'borrowed' a trowel from somewhere and is in the midst of filling in a hole that's a little less than a foot across. Every so often she glances over her shoulder, as though checking to see if her activities have been noted. It's a repetitive scoop-shovel action as she replaces the dirt she dug up, packing it down so as to make the area appear undisturbed. She's humming a little under her breath as she works, almost cheerful as she steadily fills in her little patch of earth.

NESSALYN, HAVE YOU COMMITTED MURDER? There are many people traveling the beaten path to and from the forest, and there is one very non-human would-be-a-people-if-she-weren't-a-dragon dragon wandering amid the throng. Or maybe the throng just parts and tries to dodge around her because she's big but SHUT UP OKAY. INVASION. There's one MASSIVE GOLDEN HEAD breaking its way into Nessalyn's clearing, those fauceted eyes blue and whirling as they focus in on the techcrafter and - BOOM! « MINION! I have found you! » And there is laughter; there is giddy, exuberant joy that bleeds into scents of funnelcake and spun sugar, that last seconds before Leirith disappears, oblivious or unconcerned with foot-wide holes being covered back up. And for a very long time, maybe that's all there is to it. Maybe it was just some odd moment of Leirith being a jerk and looking in before disappearing into silence.

… BUT JOKE IS ON YOU IF YOU BELIEVE THAT! HA! For here comes sound, the sound of footsteps and something that rustles like cellophane giftwrapping, something that ends abruptly with a dull thunk and a loud, "LEIRITH!" to follow it. There Leirith is again, booming back into existence with laughter, with, « NOW A LITTLE TO THE THIS DIRECTION, MINION. » "I don't know what direction that IS, Leirith." THUNK. « AHAHAHAHAHA. DON'T SULK, MINION. THE TREES HAVE YET TO KILL YOU. THINK OF THIS AS A TRUST BUILDING EXERCISE AND SOMETHING THAT COULD BE BADASS. » That's a frustrated sound, but it continues this way for longer than is necessary, until Risali is finally emerging into the clearing with her hands occupied by a basket that is alarmingly big and definitely blocking her vision. Hence the Seeing-Eye Leirith, who runs Risali right into another tree at that moment. The twigs and leaves in her hair probably got there by honest means, and Risali is chucking that basket towards the ground. "You are the most impossible, inFURIATING -" Welp. Grey eyes catch sight of Nessalyn and Risali's mouth opens, then closes, then stays closed as she slowly leans down to right that basket she just threw. It falls right back over again, but listen. "Ness." It comes awkward, and on the heels of Risali taking in the sight presented with raised brows.

Nessalyn trusts no one, LEAST OF ALL LEIRITH. So when her totally innocent digging (hahaha!) is interrupted by a massive golden head and the booming voice that probably has something to do with the way her eye is twitching, she knows her moment of solitude is over. It's not even just over — it's permanently destroyed. "I WISH YOU WEREN'T LOOKING FOR ME," she hollers in the direction in which she assumes the gold is hiding. When the strange sounds start, she pauses mid-scoop to stare suspiciously into the trees. It's clearly as Risali that's approaching, but the sound which seems to accompany said Risali is an utter mystery. It's one which only serves to put the techcrafter more on edge, as though she knows doom is somehow intruding upon what she's going to call 'gardening'. Blue eyes widen, genuine surprise flooding her features as the goldrider appears with some sort of basket. Whatever imagined torture she'd developed in her head, it didn't involve giant baskets. One dirty hand reaches up to brush a strand of hair out of her face, leaving a smudge of dirt across her forehead. "I'm gardening," is her opener, totally straight-faced and not at all spoken like a potential murderer covering up a crime scene. Really. "And you're… starting a poorly conceived delivery service?"

"My delivery service is just as well conceived as your gardening service, thankyouverymuch," comes with a hint of humor, around a smile that doesn't quite bloom into what it could be if only because Risali is fighting it off. That is DISBELIEF in her expression as it goes from trowels to SUSPICIOUS BEDS OF DIRT, but you don't make nice by turning into the Spanish Inquisition of old Terran Myths and starting an interrogation, so Risali clears her throat instead. A shift of her body to right the basket, and the weyrwoman's (VERY CLEAN but maybe a little scratched up from one or several hundred run-ins with trees) come to cross over her body. "Actually, they're sweets. I had…" A beat, a hesitation. "Well, I was going to give you alcohol, but then I got the bill from the tavern and I figured you had quite enough of that, so." LOOK AT HER AWKWARD SO HARD, look at those grey eyes bounce everywhere and refuse to settle on Nessalyn even as she starts to pull the basket a little closer. And then she crouches, because that really is a basket stuffed to the gill with all manner of sweets. "I'm…" A twist of lips. "I'm sorry. For… when I was…" DID SHE JUST GESTURE AT NESSALYN'S CHEST? She did. Because that's not awkward, Risali. "I don't have the same…" A beat. "I'm sorry."

"Nobody said this was a service." Unless you're looking for someone to come along and ruin your garden. If there are people like that, Nessalyn has the makings of a thriving business. She thumps the trowel against said suspicious bed of dirt a few times, like a few extra thuds will somehow protect it from Risali's scrutiny. With one hand, she then jams the spade into untouched earth, leaving it wobbling upright of its own accord. Brows lift when the Weyrwoman reveals that the basket contains sweets, her interest in the contests visibly peaked by the prospect. That is, until the moment she figures out that the gift is actually intended for her. "What?" The only thing worse than one awkward is TWO AWKWARDS, and Nessalyn is conveniently here to try to match Risali in verbal constipation. That basket is suddenly a tunnelsnake waiting to strike, and the more the goldrider stumbles over words, the more genuinely horrified the engineer appears. Her arms come up to cross over her chest as the other woman gestures in that direction, and her cheeks flush with discomfort. "What are you- STOP." She holds up her hands, trying to halt that apology before it comes, but not quite managing it. "It's, you know, whatever, or just… we don't need to have a conversation about this. Let's not have a conversation about this." At least they've got a trowel ready to dig themselves both graves when they die of discomfort. "I don't want a gift."

BLESS THEM. And when Nessalyn makes clear that she doesn't want to have a conversation about it, Risali looks relieved. It's the part about the gift that has those brows knitting in as if she doesn't quite know what to do, and then a hint of a smile as she settles to sit and leans forward to unwrap it. "Okay. No gift." And here the goldrider reaches in to grab a cookie, to inspect it before she takes a bite and makes a soft sound of appreciation because THAT IS A GOOD COOKIE, okay. But then she's gesturing to it around a swallow, and then offering, "But I could use some help eating it." THIS IS FAIR, RIGHT? This is more comfortable than awkward apologies. And anyway, it was Leirith's idea - hence the hugeness of it. Now those grey eyes are straying back to trowels at attention, gaze jumping from Nessalyn, to the dirt, to Nessalyn, back to the dirt again. "You're not going to really tell me what you're doing, are you?"

Nessalyn seems finally able to stop breathing like she's the heroine trapped in the closet in a horror film when Risali doesn't press the issue. It's surprised relief which floods her features, unused to people who don't want to ask why and attempt unwelcome platitudes. She remains firm in her denial of the gift, confirming her demand with a nod… but she does love cookies. It's not really accepting the gift if they're both eating the cookies, right? It's the justification she's going to use, at least. She wipes one dirty hand upon her pants, getting the worst of the dirt off before she reaches into the basket. The remaining dirt will just add some extra flavor. She hmms happily as she takes a bite, already eyeing the basket for her next before even finishing her first. "I was burying something." Sorry, Risa, there's a bit of 'see-food' in her mouth as she speaks. "It's probably better if you don't know the details."

It totally doesn't count if the part about it being a gift has been retracted and it becomes a basket full of cookies and other delicious treats that TWO PEOPLE CONSENT TO SHARE. EAT AWAY, NESSALYN. NOM ALL THOSE OMS. And of course Risali isn't going to press - have you met her? She's certainly not prone to prying, and she definitely avoids emotion and any variation thereof by sometimes extreme means. Like CLIFFDIVING, or POINTING ARROWS AT SUSPECTED PEOPLE OF SUSPECT ORIGINS. Getting out of having to explain herself is like getting a Turnover gift early, and she gets cookies out of it… that maybe she's eating too many of but doesn't stop because there are other things in her life causing her stress and SHUT UP. The mention of burying something has those grey eyes back on that dirt, and Risa's momentary blind to that display of see-food. "Did whatever it is that you buried deserve it?" comes slow, probably not the question one might expect, but the one that Risali gives Nessalyn as she looks back from around a smile that's mischievously deviant in nature.

Running away is an equally good way to avoid emotion. Or being an asshole. Both of which Nessalyn is well-versed in, but thankfully neither had to be applied in this particular situation. Which is good, because she's really enjoying these cookies. So much so that she's already reaching for the second while the first is half-eaten. Make that the second and third, because YOU CAN'T HAVE TOO MANY COOKIES IN YOUR HAND AT ONE TIME. They can both eat their feelings and see how that turns out for them in a few turns. "It didn't deserve it, but someone did." And then she mimes locking her lips and throwing away the key. SHE'LL NEVER TELL. But if she happens to hear something about a missing object in the coming weeks, this might be a good place to look. "Any thoughts on where I should put a stray boot for maximum frustration?"

YOUR SECRET IS SAFE. Risali huffs amusement into cookies and then reaches for her own second, third, FIFTH that she settles along those leathers protecting her thighs and then… laughs. Where should you place a stray boot for maximum frustration? "With Leirith," comes on wry tones, a hint of humor that manifests as Risali hooks one finger and wiggles it up and down. "She will probably put it on her talon, and walk around with it, and announce to everybody that it's her boot." IT IS LIKE A TWO-FOR-ONE. A boot in plain sight that you have to deal with Leirith to get back. And knowing Leirith, there will be some kind of requirement. Like some kind of TERRIBLE JABBERWOCKY SPHYNX WITH A RIDDLE. It'd all just be a really big headache to get back, honestly. "Alternatively, you could just wear it and pretend like you have no idea why it doesn't fit and why everybody thinks it doesn't belong to you."

Nessalyn's other hand is wiped off on her pants (which are in no state to hold cookies) so she can at least double-fist it. They'll be finished with the entire basket by the time the conversation ends, at this rate. And then they'll both be horribly, HORRIBLY sick. Nessalyn's eyes light up at the prospect of using Leirith's antics to her benefit for once. Her head tilts to the side, already silently calculating how best to time this for the maximum chance that her intended victim will come across Leirith and said boot before the gold accidentally destroys it. There's no way a boot on a dragon talon will last forever. "No way, I'm not putting that on. You didn't smell it." She makes a show of disgust. In truth, that boot didn't smell any worse than any other boot, but the truth isn't nearly as entertaining. "I do like the Leirith option, if she's game."

Well, if they get sick they can just use the boot to relieve their stomachs because it can't smell much worse, can it? I KID, I KID. But Risali is laughing when Nessalyn brings up the smell, her nose scrunching in feigned sympathy as she breathes out, "There's no hope for it, then. We should probably do Xanadu a favor and set it on fire." But then there's a shift, a knitting of brows as Risali looks too Leirith and then away. It's the gold who answers with, « I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED A BOOT, MINION. I WILL GLADLY ACCEPT YOUR QUEST OF VENGEANCE. » IS IT VENGEANCE, THOUGH? But Risa nibbles another cookie, and then wiggles it around for emphasis. "Is this one of those things where you bully them so that you can deny that intense sexual attraction you have for them but are ignoring because it's against all of your rules?" SHE IS BEING RUDE ON PURPOSE, biting down on her bottom lip with teeth to stifle laughter because she is just rude, okay.

AND THEN KAELLIAN GETS A VOMIT-FILLED BOOT RETURNED TO HIM. How's that for the worst gift ever? Nessalyn has nearly polished off her current stash of cookies and is already reaching for more. "I'd usually advocate setting things on fire, but that would really put all my hard work to waste. I fell out of a tree for that boot." On purpose, but that detail apparently isn't important enough to be revealed. Lips curl in agrin when Leirith accepts, no argument coming from the engineer for the gold's interpretation of her motivations. Vengeance isn't right, but it's far better than Risali's interpretation. Nessalyn nearly chokes, coughing around a mouthful of cookie and spraying crumbs in the process. "My rules? What rules?" NESSALYN HAS NO RULES. Her expression is caught somewhere between bewilderment and embarrassment, while her body holds in place in preparation for fight or flight. "If I wanted to sleep with someone, I'd sleep with them. I'm bullying him because it's really funny to watch him try to pretend he doesn't want to stab us."

WHAT RULES? A SHRUG OF RISALI'S SHOULDER, and perhaps a little too much amusement geared towards that expression Nessalyn makes, that one that Risali draws Answers That Might Be Wrong or Really Right from before biting into another cookie with brows GOING HIGHER IN A SUGGESTION. THAT SHE DOESN'T BELIEVE HER. "Or," she says, with the kind of temperament and inflection in tone that says she's about to lay out some words of wisdom, so LISTEN UP, KIDDOS. That cookie gets pointed at Nessalyn in emphatic emphasis, those eyes narrow as if she's sighting the techcrafter at the end of an arrow, ready to pull, and…! "You want him to stab you, just not with his sword." A beat, and then WICKEDLY, "Not the shiny one, anyway." RUDE RISALI. She got it from Ila'den and COMES BY IT HONEST, I SWEAR. That smug deposit of cookie into EVEN MORE SMUG MOUTH thankfully has a moment of instant karma, where Risali breathes wrong, or swallows wrong, and finds herself suddenly CHOKING, and COUGHING, and MAKING A VERY GOOD DISTRACTION FOR NOT HAVING TO ANSWER. WHO BRINGS A BASKET OF COOKIES AND FORGETS TO BRING SOMETHING TO WASH ALL THAT CRUMBY GOODNESS DOWN WITH?

Nessalyn sees those eyebrows, Risali. SHE SEES THEM. And in response she simply rolls her eyes, because she already sees those conclusions being jumped to before they're spoken aloud. "Uh huh," she answers with evident skepticism, just waiting for whatever is to come. Her features twist up in annoyed disbelief which mingles with humor because that joke was JUST. SO. BAD. "I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be stabbing, first of all," she retorts, arching her own brows in challenge. TELL HER SHE'S WRONG, RISALI. GO AHEAD. "Some people just don't-" Whatever hse's going to say is cut off when Risali begins choking. This is probably where she's supposed to jump to attention and try to save the Weyrwoman, but instead Nessalyn just sits back and laughs, because IT SERVES YOU RIGHT.

I SEE YOU VILLIAN. I SEE YOU AND YOUR VILLAIN MOUSTACHE. Laughing at her. And Risali isn't offended by Nessalyn's decision to WATCH HER SUFFER; mid-choke, Risa grabs a cookie to throw at Nessalyn with eyes that are laughing. Then it's Risali laughing when she gets a breath, when that choking diminishes to coughs and then more laughter. Listen, it takes her a couple of moments to actually recover enough to speak, but she's already biting into another cookie once she has, and still smiling. "But okay, that's fair." A beat. "And it's a little bit of a stabbing. If stabbing was, you know, less painful. And didn't result in blood." Another beat, a wicked look. "Everytime, anyway. Details, Nessa. Details." CHOMP. RUDE. SHE COMES BY IT HONEST, PROBABLY, BUT BECAUSE ILAMUSE WON'T BEHAVE, CUE LEIRITH. And a faltering of humor as Risali's eyes go distant, as Leirith for once doesn't blast out her Business to the world. A hesitation, and Risa is breathing out, "I have to go," to Nessa. But there is no hesitation in her when she stands, when she ABANDONS COOKIE BASKETS BECAUSE SHE WINS EVERY DAY and abandons the scene in a rush. IT'S IMPORTANT, OKAY. V. IMPORTANT.

Already covered in dirt as she is, it makes very little difference when a cookie hits her in the chest and leaves crumbs all over her shirt. WHO CARES, SHE'S ALREADY DIRTY. And now she'll just look like she got into a fight with a filthy cookie. The longer it takes for Risali to recover, the funnier Ness seems to find the whole ordeal. By the time the Weyrwoman speaks again, the engineer's eyes are bright and her smirk is far too smug. "Everything's more fun when a little bit of blood is drawn, right?" she offers in a dry tone, resorting to sarcasm when she feels out of her depth. Luckily, she's spared any further discussions of sexual proclivities by Leirith (COMING IN CLUTCH FOR ONCE). She hastily stuffs more cookie in her mouth as Risali makes her exit. "I'll bring her the boot tomorrow!" she calls out around a mouthful. Hopefully the words aren't entirely incomprehensible because of it. And then she plucks up the trowel, flinging it into the bush, before scooping up an armful of cookies and peace out of there. FREE (MOSTLY EMPTY) COOKIE BASKET IN THE FOREST, Y'ALL.

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