Calamities Need A Reward System

Firelizard Theatre
A natural clearing in the forest has grown a different sort of tree. The Courtyard of the Firelizard holds grass trampled into dirt around the wooden play structures.
In the northern part of this field lies a jungle-gym like fort, with two towers that soar to fifteen feet of height. One of them adjoins a large open deck with spiral staircase up and a metal slide down. That aside, the structure's made almost entirely of wood, the boards locked together either by being interlocked or by huge wooden bolts hammered into the boards. The towers are studded with uneven boards and rough spots, various climbing challenges on each of their faces. A swaying rope bridge with wooden slats connects the towers, and beneath it there's a sealed tunnel to run through or play minecraft.
Just past the fort, there are wooden sit-toys carved and painted into the likeness of dragons. They're about two feet high and four feet long, though the green is smaller than the blue. There's a place for a child to sit on the dragon's back, with their feet resting on the dragon's paws and hands on the bars bars attached to the neck of the dragon. Pushing with hands or feet will make the dragon rock and writhe.
In the middle of the field are two sets of swings, suspended by rope from from a wooden beam that's held up by crossbraces on either side. There's a set of monkey bars, made entirely out of wood but carefully polished until the dark bars glow, and a set of seesaws. The sandbox is set back a little from the rest, filled with sand from Xanadu's beach and scattered with buckets and shovels.
Trees border the area, including a massive Lemosian ironwood that has beneath its branches wooden benches with a view of the playground.

It's EARLY, y'all. Well before ordinary people have decided to plod around outdoors. This morning lends itself to quiet; footsteps echo louder as Rukbat has not seen fit to get out of bed and rise yet, the crossover point between creatures of the night and those of day finds a stalemate. Silence reigns supreme, everything held in stasis in preparation for the brand new beginning that's to come. In the darkness, down the path, dressed from head to toe in jade green riding pants and an oversized navy blue jacket, is Evi. Uncharacteristically her hair is down, falling in messy curls and waves all the way to her mid-back. She isn't alone though, there's a bundle of dark green cloth wrapped around an infant whose head is tucked underneath her chin, arms gently embracing the tiny human, supporting his bottom with one hand making small strokes down his back. Devoid of sound, the humming noise from the greenrider is nearly out of place in this twilight hour; every few bars, there's a word whispered into tiny ears. Eyes half-open, she's asleep on her feet, body rocking to her private melody and muscles moving on memory more than anything. The vulnerability level is palpable, the night embracing them tightly as they meander through the forest and arrive at the playground.

There are… likely plenty of children awake at this hour, honestly, but very few of them have parents who can be convinced to take them out to the playground this early. So the place is empty… for the most part. The part of it that isn't has D'lei, lounged across one of those wooden firelizard toys with his back along the curve of its neck so he can gaze up through a break in the trees at the sky that slowly brightens from star-studded darkness to the soft glow of dawn. The sound of approach, of steps and song, makes his head tilt from skies to earth, looking through the trees to seek out the source of the noise amidst this stillness but not moving much otherwise… though it's still enough to make the wooden-firelizard creak, a sound-indication of his own presence here in this quiet early-morning space.

The problem with babies is, they don't always do what you want them to. Focused on the child in her arms, she's soft in every way imaginable, body bent in, blinking long in an attempt to catch even the SMALLEST amount of sleep. This woman raised a dragon, she can obviously handle a baby, but the two things together, alone, might be proving a challenge if the dark circles under eyes have anything to say about it. The noise doesn't immediately strike a chord, brain slower than usual. When it does, there's a flinch, body stiffening and circling around in concern, looking behind them for the source. Spotting no one, she turns back, adrenaline sharpening her senses. Even then, it takes her a moment to see the strange-but-not-a-stranger man sitting on a children's toy. Both eyebrows go up as the path draws closer. "Morning." The sound only a whisper; it could get lost in the space between them on its way, a pleasantry, instinctual kindness that's a factory setting on this model of Evi.

D'lei regards Evi as she makes her way along, as he holds that little bundle of… many things, but among them hopefully joy. "Morning," he answers her, then hehs as his gaze shifts back upwar for a moment. "Or at least, we're getting there. It might still be a bit ambitious for the word, but…" A shrug, another creak of the toy he's commandeered to act as his couch. "So it goes." He shifts slightly, the better to engage with her, and gives a half-smile, amiable. "How's yours going? Good, bad, somewhere in the middle, or too complicated to be sure where it falls?"

Stopping for a moment, the bundle in her arms wiggles, letting out a whining protest to the lack of motion. Trained well, she starts to walk again, unconsciously moving towards D'lei. "I wish it would slow down." The words out before she can think; there's a long blink and then a sigh. "Long." Is her answer to how it's going, staring up at the betrayer sky, moving back and forth to stay within a polite distance while also keeping moving. About how she is, there's a tired shrug, "I'm too busy and tired to think, which is good." Disarmed in this early hour, she tilts her head, "So, I don't know you, but… I'll tell you a story. If you want." Turning on her pacing path, head dipping into land a kiss on the top of the tiny head. The child quiet again as long as she's moving. He's content.

D'lei tilts his head to the side at that sound, a combination of recognition and question in his expression. He knows that sound of displeased infant! There's a brief flicker of something concern-like across his face, and then he gives a soft laugh. "There's only likely to be more of it to come," he replies, with a vague gesture of one hand to indicate mostly-trees partially-sky, and follows it with a nod as his eyes track after her pacing motion, follow Evi and that bundle in her arms both. "Story-time is a fine tradition around these parts," he says in answer to her offer, and smiles. "So it seems only appropriate… though we may find that we need some snacks and juice by the end." He grins a bit, then… goes quiet, attentive, ready to listen.

As the day threatens to start whether Evi's ready or not, there's a stare up at the remaining stars, the ones holding out against the light that will wipe them away. If only temporarily. Rocking her body back and forth, there's a long pause, eyes closing and willing herself awake enough to keep speaking. "Alright." With more purpose then she had for most of the walk she steps forward and sits down on the smaller toy adjacent to D'lei's. "I'm um, not hungry." She's lost weight since they met, in her face, in the way her clothes fit even if it's obvious the jacket she's wearing was not created with her in mind. "Once upon a time, I lived… far away. And I thought, I knew, how my life was going to be. Sort of." Rocking from side to side in response to a wiggle, hair smacks her face in an attempt to rid a pesky thought. "I was, going to get married, have kids, I had plans." Breathing out long, "Then, it was gone. And I was… nowhere. And it was /scary/." She's working through what she actually wishes this man to know, leaving out exact details for that reason. Or levity. "There was water, and a giant hole and I did not know if it was going to be ok. " Biting her lip, and shifting the child to her other shoulder, nose making circles in gossamer black baby hair.

D'lei gives a half-smile, a sideways tug of his mouth, but he only nods to Evi's clarification. He remains quiet, for the most part, as she speaks… the occasional small nod, slight noises of encouragement or empathy, but mostly he just listens to a tale that's not very detailed but keeps its focus instead on the emotions, the feelings that swept from uncertainty to the terror of not-knowing. "…so what happened?"

"Um, well, my brother and I were rescued, and I've not seen him since." Bitterness seeps through, biting and eliciting a deep sigh. ALmost off-topic, the thoughts slowly being realigned. "I was searched against my mother's advice. She came to get me, you know." He doesn't; actually almost nobody knows this minor detail. "The day after I impressed, she had a suitor lined up, and I would have everything I had ever imagined. Except, she was a day late." Mirthlessly, she lets out a hrmph, stalling to find the next words. "She came, and, obviously, it wasn't going to work." Rolling brown-green eyes with the obviousness of the statement, "The next big event was, graduating, meeting a boy. I thought we might get old and be surrounded by grandchildren. But." Leaning the child in her arms down to see his sleeping face, "We couldn't have children… and I pushed him away." Voice-breaking as an oooff follows the statement, shoulders stiffening

D'lei makes a sympathetic noise, grimace turned to vocalization even as his gaze remains attentive on Evi. He accepts the sideways veer through topics as if it were straightforward… and after all, the emotions certainly have their connections, so perhaps it's not as much of a detour as it might seem. His lips twitch wryly at the bit about her mother, a nod that's probably not understanding yet - after all, he's just hearing pieces and fragments, and even his best guesses can't be doing more than filing them away to try to make sense of later… but he acknowledges, even so, encourages Evi to keep talking and telling those pieces of her story that she feels the desire - or perhaps even need - to share. "Mmh. Yeah…" The words are soft, not interrupting but only helping to fill that gap. There's a gap in the story, of course, the time between a day late and… ah, graduation; that makes context clear, back-propagates information about what happened and why things meant what they did. But… never mind that part of the past; closer now, to a graduation, to a boy, to… a lack of children, even as Evi holds a child in her arms. "…who's the little one?" D'lei asks softly, bringing the conversation around to that matter, that seeming-contradiction, his tone gentle and sympathetic as he offers… perhaps a continuation of the story, perhaps an offer of distraction from it.

Evi's sleep-deprived state lends itself to rambling, not telling her tale as well as it should be. The fragmented telling might have a point, as a yawn escapes, and she stills in her rocking. "This is Ibzrial; he's my foster son. Before he was born I didn't know if I could love a child that uh, wasn't, totally, well, mine." Leaning down, there's a peck of a kiss for the child, "I thought, for sure it would get easier. When um, when I was in the house, and there was a giant sinkhole, and when I was all alone. I was sure it could not be any worse. Like, no way, could anything ever top that." Living through bad things perhaps isn't a punch card system, where you run out of slots, and nothing bad ever happens again. Although it's clear that was what she was thinking. "Nei is perfect," laugh, ok, it's hilarious, "And I have no idea who I would be without her, but. I messed up." Solemn in her last sentence, emotions a bit all over the map this morning. "That's it. Everything is all over the place. Nothing I do even matters. Your turn, tell me a story." He didn't just get the choppy version of her entire life for free, that's not how she works.

"Ibzrial, hmm?" D'lei muses, repeating the name, then smiles as he nods, as he resumes his listening for those feelings of what makes a child belong to one person or another, of that sense that there should be some sense of rightness or fairness in a universe that doesn't seem to have gotten the memo or agreed to that human-sensical rule. "…we all do, I think," he says as he looks away, out to the slowly-brightening skies. "Sometimes we recover from it, sometimes we don't, either way we keep moving up until we don't." A wry half-smile, and then D'lei looks back to Evi. "What story do you want to hear?" Not that she knows what stories are available, of course; she knows less of his life than he did of hers even before this morning's outpouring of emotions and history, and yet… "I'll tell you whichever one you'd like." She just has to ask, not knowing what the choices are. A leap of faith, perhaps, or - at the least - of curiosity.

Daylight has finally awoken the avians, and the noise level clicks up a notch as they begin to awaken and conversate, the noise rousing Evi as she stares down at her outfit and tucks in with shyness. This isn't how she presents herself to the world; if Neifeth was awake, she'd be horrified she walked out the door in such a state. "Izzy, yes." Her current predicament might be less the universe and more her own bad judgment, but that would take more self-actualization than she can muster. "Ummm, so, I like, don't remember your name." Blushing with chin ducking, hiding that lapse. "So, you start there and um, tell me about a regret. In fairness, I told you all about how I'm a disaster. Match it." Bring it on. There's a minor challenge to her tone even as she has NO idea what she's asking for. Unburdened, she feels somehow less heavy. This day felt impossible before this talk.

D'lei nods to that shortened name-variant, smiles again before he lounges back against his impromptu firelizard-couch, a quirk of his lips and then a laugh. "Is it really a competition?" he asks, his tone half-rhetorical. "The name my mothers gave me is Dashiel," he begins. "It's partly for my mom, partly for my ma's favorite brother, and just a bit from the man who contributed the genetic material to make me happen." His tone is serious, for all that there's a faint wry quirk of his lips as he explains. "I never met him. Well. Not knowingly, anyhow. When I was a boy, I wanted to, so that I could know him, so I could have a father like the other children did. By the time I was an adult, and I actually could have sought him out and found him… well. By then, I'd sort of stopped caring about him. He didn't make a difference when he could have, so… what did it matter to me now?" D'lei gives those words a wry smile, a small shrug.

Well, I mean, it doesn't have to be a competition, it's more like a umm. A Big sharing time, where you share, and I do, and then we decide who is more messed up." Evi literally describes competition while denying that it is one. But that's part of who she is, a smile finding her lips close when he gives over his name. SORT OF. Knee inching in and out with a subtle swing, enough movement to satisfy Izzy and keep him from ruining the story, "Mmm, parents are strange. I mean, I would think he would want to know you too. But men are weird." The teenage girl showing a bit beneath her sophisticated greenrider motif. Strong grown-up dragonwoman, but boys are still a mystery. "Would it be different? If you knew your father, would it be different? Would you maybe be better? " BECAUSE HE IS A CRIMINAL. Or at least someone who she has thought about adding to a neighborhood watch list.

A non-competitive competition, right. With ambiguous rules and unclear motivations! D'lei gives a lopsided smile, then tilts his head back to give a soft laugh at Evi's conclusions about the menfolk of the world that he may or may not resemble one of himself. (Answer: yes, yes he does, but D'lei isn't going to bring that up just now.) "I mean, I'm sure it would have made a difference of some sort," he muses as regards his absent father. "Whether it would have been a good one, well, that's another question entirely." D'lei gives a wry smile, then exhales. "He was a dragonrider, I know that much at least. Not that I didn't end up at a Weyr eventually, of course…" In fact, he's in one right now! "…but then, maybe I came here partly because of that boyish desire, some urge to connect back to roots I didn't actually know much about." He shrugs, just a bit.

Ambiguity is one of Evi's favorite things; it's exciting and can be dangerous. Possibly why she's talking to this man because she's not had a good thrill in a while and he could be anyone. "Dragonriders don't always make good fathers, um, my grandfather had like 100 children." It be like that sometimes, don't get her started on bronzeriders or why they're basically man-ho central. "Why stay in a Weyr? I mean, I assume this man you're speaking of is dead." She just totally called him old, with a casual raise of both shoulders and a 'what gives man' wag of her head. Izzy startles awake, and the greenrider rises to her feet, swaying and shhhing to try and regain the peace. "I mean maybe he is alive, what color was his dragon? Nei's asleep, but she's an expert at this sort of thing." Actually, she's not, Oriapeth is but Evi doesn't know that all requests for info have been going to her cousins gold for turns. Contemplating with a long look up as Rukbat and an entire day of work are creeping up like a masked attacker, "We could find him, maybe you have siblings." And she's a meddler of the first class variety, who needs a nice distraction.

"Mmh. So I've heard," D'lei says of the failings of dragonriders as fathers, the proclivities of bronzeriders in particular. He's a wry smile for them, presented to the heavens as he studies their absence of stars. As for the rumored death of his father - and the presumed age of his own self - he gives a shrug. "I wouldn't know." That would require him to have done more searching and finding and engaging, wouldn't it? Which he hasn't, really, despite being here at a Weyr. D'lei tilts his head back to Evi, inquisitive at her suggested offered of research, and there's a moment's pause before he hehs. "Blue," he answers it, with an echo of a shrug because why not. "His name was D'ran." Or maybe is, if there's something left of the man besides that initial D (and pile of chromosomes) he passed to his son. "I doubt there's a hundred of them for me to meet," he muses with a crooked and somewhat amused sort of smile, "but who knows? Maybe there's at least a few out there, for whatever that connection actually means."

"You do not want 100 siblings, several of my half uncles' dragon's have chased Neith. Ew." Evi stalls, bouncing the upset boy whose noises have moved past fussing and into harsher bawling. "Shh, shh." Swaying back and forth while nodding, eyes glazing over and back. "D'ran- hrmm. Well, alright. My uncle was Weyrleader at half-moon, and I know Monaco's Weyrwoman. Cousins at Igen, and my grandfather was Ista's Weyrleader." She's name dropping because she can and because she's not sure it matters to this person. This is a resume in finding someone. "I'll ask around, it might.. well I'm not really sure what it would do." She's not thought that far ahead; she has to find this man first. The fussy high pitched howl returns with gusto and the greenrider begins moving toward the path to make a bubble between herself and Dashiel. "Um, I need to go. He's hungry." In a fake high pitched voice that's only meant for invalids and children she croons, "Oh baby izzy, is ok, let mama take you home, yes, have some bweakfast, yess, an we will get alll dwessed. Yessh, oh Izzy, Izzy, Izzy, whatcha doin'. Yaaahh." And with all of that, she's off, mushy voice and all.

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