Candidate Commonalities

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 weather is unusual. Though Xanadu has seen its share of sunny, hot days, and even those monsoon-like rains and everything in between, today's most notable feature is wind. It pulls the sand from its bed down at the shore of the lake in harmless or stinging buffets by turns of just how hard a gust has come along. Far out over the lake, there's dark clouds and the distant flashes of lighting, though so far out that the boom of the thunder is just an echo off the water. Stefyr stands in the dry sand, heedless of the sand that doesn't lift high enough to bother his rather excessively tall vantage, hands on his hips, watching the water churn that distance out and taking in how it changes as it comes toward shore where the sky is covered by whiter, puffier and just generally more friendly immediately overhead.

The storm off in the distance gets a glance now and then. The sand that flies up intermittently ignored, or at least tolerated by the petite blonde that makes her way down the shoreline, sandals in hand as she lets the waves lap over here feet when she comes perhaps a bit too close to the water's edge. Mostly her attention is on the churning waters so maybe that's how she hasn't managed to take notice of the tall young man.

It cannot be said that Stefyr is the most observant man, but neither can it be said that he doesn't have his moments. This must be one of those, for he sees the blonde before she arrives near him and he steps out toward the edge of the water, moving to meet her, one hand reaching to touch her shoulder lest she be so deep in thought as to not notice him still. "May I walk with you?" It's greeting and request in one.

Katailea startles, jumping at the sound of his voice and the hand on her shoulder. Not exactly like here, so perhaps she was more deeply in thought that she might have seemed. At least she doesn't shriek too though she does turn a quickly in his direction. A second to put a face with the voice and she turns a smile up to him, lifting a shoulder in a light shrug. "If you want to, I don't mind."

Her smile gets his, one that tugs at the edges of his mouth but keeps his lips together, a gentle thing, really. "I would," he assures, his voice quiet but not overly so. Stefyr falls into step, on the dry side of where she walks, though he wears no shoes to worry about. "I'd offer you a thirty-second piece for your thoughts, but with you being a trader and me having no trade experience to speak of, I'm sure we'd have to haggle over price and it would get too rich for me too quickly, so I'll just ask instead." He glances over at her as his hands find his way into his pockets, shrugging slightly as he asks, "What's on your mind? You looked like you were a million miles away."

A look back out towards the waves turns into nothing more than a glance as Katailea continues along the shore and he falls into step beside her. His comment brings a laugh as she casts a look up at him, "Probably," she agrees about the two of them haggling, "But you seem like a decent sort so I might give you a break." Her attention on Stefyr only lasts until that question is asked, its then that her gaze drifts back to the storm in the distance and her expression falls but only while she's looking away. "Do you ever feel like you made the wrong choice? Being here I mean."

"Sometimes," is at least an honest response from the tall blond. Stefyr's not about to claim decency as a dependable trait, although it's probably fair to guess that would be a more often than not trait with him in any case. He follows her gaze briefly back to the storm and then back to the younger woman. "I felt like that before I found my place. And I've wondered a couple of times since accepting that flimsy looking white knot if I might have made a terrible mistake in agreeing to this." It's a different mistake than just being here, for him. "But that's not really… I mean, if you want to know, I'll tell you, but I'd rather… hear what you're thinking? Is it… homesickness?" He hazards, unsure. He is trying to decent now, that's for sure.

They're one in the same for her, but then who's really counting. She lets out a breath, giving a light shake of her head. "Well I'm glad you did," Katailea replies, turning a small, quiet smile back towards Stefyr. "Maybe?" she's not quite sure of her own answer for that question of homesickness. "Maybe not. I miss the ocean though, the way it smells, the way the way the deck moves under your feet. It's just… different being here. Not bad, just different. I've never been on land this long before."

Stefyr's return smile this time is a mirror of hers, quiet and his with an edge of subtle support, but nothing so pushy as actual encouragement. "It's different, for me, too. I'd never even seen a lake like this before." He gestures to the one they walk beside. "That—" he indicates the storm, "is one of the most incredible things I think I've ever seen, and I'd never have seen it if I hadn't come here. Home has a swimming hole and a couple ponds for the livestock, but…" He shrugs. "Nothing like this." He slants a sheepish look toward the other candidate, "I've been on a boat exactly once. But I miss the smell of the hay in the loft. If I want that, I can go to the stables here or the feeding grounds to deal with the animals there, but it's not the same as home." And all that being shared, he feels more comfortable to ask, "Maybe you just haven't found you place here? I mean, candidate chores are… well, chores. Maybe if you had something else… Something that was your choosing. Something you liked. What do you like?" It's like he's just following his train of thought aloud, really. It ends with the question, so he looks to her as she's the only one who might know the answer.

"I suppose," Katailea agrees with the idea that its not just different for her. She knew that, but it doesn't mean she doesn't feel like it from time to time. "Imagine that," a nod towards the lake he hasn't seem one the likes of before. "Ten times the size and you can't even see the shore no matter what direction you turn." Its a thought that brings a brighter smile to her lips. "They are pretty fantastic, aren't they," she agrees of the storm across the water, leaning just enough to bump her shoulder against his arm. "Sailing through them not so much, but from a distance," she could watch that all day. A nods, "At least there's that," she notes for his ability to visit the stables and the like here, "But I can see where it wouldn't be the same either." Its the question that follows which sees her pausing to turn a puzzled gaze on him. "What do I like?"

Stefyr's gaze follows the woman's nod, pausing briefly in his steps to take it in anew. "Ten times the size." He repeats the words quietly and then after a moment shakes his head. The majesty of the storm is lost in the wake of that thought. He's moving again at her side in time for the bump. "I lack the imagination." And there's a gentle nudge of his elbow back. "I'll just have to see it someday. I think I'd like that, about being a dragonrider, if it happens. All the things I could see, the places I could go. Here is plenty big enough for me for now, but what about later?" That unknown future point where he might feel the need to explore? "Have you flown much? Is it anything like sailing?" Only after he's offered these two more questions born of honestly gotten curiosity does he clarify his original question. "To do. I mean, it sounds like… sailing? There's fishing boats and the dock here," he contemplates. "But are there other things? That you like to do? For work? For fun?" He'll take any answers, apparently. She could probably slip in her favorite color and he's still listen on attentively.

Katailea hmms, turning a slight glance towards the man at his lack of imagination. "You will," she agrees, certainty in those few words. That someday he'll see the ocean, someday he'll be a dragonrider. It could be attributed to either or both. "Later.." That's something to think about and maybe one of those things that was on her mind to begin with when he found her. At this moment she teases in her reply, "Well maybe then, when you're a dragonrider, I can go visit that farm of yours. I'm sure you have a brother or a cousin or something I can marry." Expecting, it would seem, not to find her lifemate on the sands and sure of moving on after the fact. A shake of her head follows the question of flying, breeze catching a lock of hair across her face which she ignores. "No, just once. A little bit maybe, but no, not really." But then there's that question again. "… I always did inventory," she finally offers of work though doing and like doing are arguably two separate ideas. "Swimming, I like swimming, and looking at the stars." But now he has her thinking and smiling again. "Pineapple" (or whatever the Pernese equivalent is, because there must be something) "And those little flowers you see in the meadows in the spring. The purple and white ones. I don't know what they're called but," and there she cuts herself off. He doesn't want to hear her ramble on. "What about you?" question posed as she turns inquisitive sea-green eyes his way.

Stefyr's expression becomes pained at her tease. He lets an overdone groan leave him before he looks down at her. "I have seven brothers, and cousins, and one unattached uncle. But, please, there is no faster way to get your feet buried in dirt than to marry a farmer." Basically: DON'T DO IT, KATAILEA! "Besides, they might chase you off with pots and pans if you tried. The Weyr's already taken one son…" He makes the Weyr sound like some fabled monster who might always lurk under one's bed. "Besides, I'd picture you better with wings. Or sails." If the first should fail. "Maybe you should ask around to get some more time in the air? See if you like it? Not on Leirith," this is important enough for him to reach to grip her forearm and squeeze with light pressure if she doesn't move aside before his hand is falling away again. "N'on and Zhelinath took me on a good flight. You could ask him?" He certainly has taken in her list of things, turning those ideas over in his mind as they walk. "I'm still sorting out what I like. I'm learning a lot of new things since I arrived. Trying new experiences. Sometimes it's hard to tell, too, if something that is new is something I like because it's new and I just want to do it once, or because I like it and will even after the new has worn off." He shrugs. Everyone has their confusions here, it seems.

Katailea missed that look or she may have asked after it. "Seven," there's options anyway. It's a thought she's playing with even if it's not seriously being considered. "It can't be all bad besides I never said anything about stealing one of them off." She didn't but knowing her it's not a far reach either. "Yeah?" its a rhetorical sort of question as she considers his thoughts on wings or sails. "Maybe, but not Leirith..?" Sure, she could ask about that, but why not Leirith? Its a fleeting thought as she skips ahead a few steps to turn, walking backwards so she can watch the man as they walk, edging closer to where the beach narrows into the cove. "New things. Like?"

"One look at you and unless you were dying to do the work of a farm wife day in and out, any one of my unattached brothers would walk right off the land of their father and his father before him and never look back." The tall blond sounds perfectly sincere in his remark, even if the implications might be somewhat lost on him. Stefyr doesn't linger on it because… how to explain. "Leirith," he starts slowly, carefully, one glance going up and down the beach just in case a condiment colored gold might be summoned bt this third use of her name in a row. "She likes things to be badass." The last word is stressed, but his expression and tone is completely deadpan. "This means that your flight with her will be heart-stopping, nail biting, I mean, I almost puked." So, there's that. "After." But he didn't. "Zhelinath was… I think… a better example of what flight on a dragon is… usually." A dragon who's not Leirith. "It wasn't the same kind of thrill as cliff diving. But it seemed like Risali liked it…" That has him stopping, thinking, maybe resolving to DO IT AGAIN SOMETIME, because that's a GREAT IDEA. "New things," he distracts himself, "I just finished my basic education courses with the Harpers," a little late, but who's counting. "I'm reading about anatomy. Or trying to." He squints at the distance a moment, and then adds, "I'm learning piano. And sign language, although I'm pretty fluent now, in the latter. I guess it's going to be time to take up some new things, soon. I got on my first boat the other week. Went to my first carnival. Went cliff diving." He glances down to her with a flash of a smile. "What should I try next, do you think?"

Okay, so she probably could get one of them do do that if she really wanted especially if he thinks so. He knows them, certainly better than she does. While the implications might be lost on him, is that a blush? Oh, there are so many things she could say to that to deflect! She could call him on it, but instead, "I'm not," Katailea starts, leaving whatever was to come next unspoken as she leans to look down the beach around him, following that glance of his. "Good to know," she'll file that information about why not to fly with that particular gold away for later. New things, new experiences. "All that? Sounds like you've gotten in way more than me," she comments, pausing her walk there as she thinks. In her defense, he's been at the Weyr longer.

It's to her defense that Stefyr audibly comes, "Well, I was here a couple of months before the eggs were laid. More time. But, I mean, that was all just what I sort of found my way to. And I switched jobs. From gardener to assisting the Harpers and training up with Rhody to assist the Weyrwoman and Weyrleader. None of that was anything I really planned. You never know, if you look at what's around you, you might find some new things you like, too. Things that might make it feel less like this might have been a mistake." Even in all the breadth of the conversation so far, he hasn't lost sight of that start. He looks down at her, "Friends can be good for that. For helping make you feel like you belong. I mean, I know you're not alone, but… everyone can always use another friend, right?" That's probably his clumsy offer of friendship there. In that confusing bow. And it could have been lost, but it wasn't because after that he does ask, "You're not what?"

Katailea nods, a tilt of her head as she agrees with the statement of timing. "So if you can do I can too" statement and question all in one. "I'll find something I'm sure. Even if it's just chores and cliff diving." There's that flirty smile of her's sparking her eyes only to fade again. "Yeah," the word a simple, if hollow, agreement. One can never have too many friends. Right. The "Thank you, Stefyr," that follows is more sincere, paired with a soft smile as she pushes up onto tiptoes to press a quick kiss to his cheek. "Not?" it takes her a second to backtrack the conversation to what she didn't say, "That pretty.." she finishes the earlier thought as she turns to continue down the beach. She might act like she is and she knows it, but its just that an act.

"Why not? I'm nothing special." It's not one of those 'tell me I am' statements that people sometimes use to fish for a compliment, but rather an expression of confidence that whatever she is, she's already a leg up on whatever he is. Stefyr flashes down a smile, leaning enough to let her place that kiss on his cheek. His hand reaches for hers, intending to clasp it, squeeze it and release it in some gesture of silent support. He does give her another sidelong look at the last, a little thoughtful, but then he reaches up a hand to scratch at his chin. "Well, I'm a pretty poor judge, but I'm certain you're prettier than the herdbeasts we keep, and out there, they'd be about your only competition." He tries to lighten the mood with a joke, but he does seek to nudge her with an elbow, "Even if they weren't…" is in a more serious tone, that smile of his still close-lipped, but somehow gentler.

"I don't know about that." Being nothing special, but that she appreciates the sentiment is evident enough. Katailea doesn't try to pull away when he reaches for her hand, returning that squeeze with her own silent thanks. A step or two and then she laughs, "I don't know, herdbeast have those big eyes and," she can't keep herself from rolling her eyes. Lets face it, worst comparison ever even if it achieved its goal. Its her turn to prod for finished thoughts this time. A loose fist giving him a gentle nudge in the side, "Weren't what?"

Stefyr appears to give Katailea's protest of herdbeasts it's due. "Well, I'll give you that. They do have a way of looking at you," which he proceeds to do, expression shifting from comically sober to comically blank, only a twitch of his jaw implying some very alluring cud chewing as he stares down at Katailea. He holds it much too long to be comfortable, but maybe it gets funnier as it goes along? Laughing when he breaks it, his hands tuck away in his pockets, not showing any sign that that nudge registered beyond the 'go with it' movement that his torso took. His shoulders rise and fall in a shrug. "I'm a bad judge. I think everyone's attractive." The slight flush in his cheeks testifies to the truth in the statement. He lets one hand slip free of his pocket to reach up and push it through his hair, "But I think you're pretty enough to make the right guy do crazy things." Like leave the life of farming long behind. Then again, maybe his brothers aren't as bright as Stefyr (and that's saying so much).

Katailea tries to keep a straight face. She tries, but fails a grin breaking into laughter and she can only shake her head at him as she giggles. "Well if you think herdbeast are attractive then I'll believe that," he's a bad judge that is. "Well," she says flippantly, "If this whole candidate thing doesn't work out then I guess I can always look up one of your brothers at any rate." That hand in his hair must go back to his pocket sooner rather than later, but if she can she'll slip her hand into his before it can get there.

"Weeell," he dissembles, his baritone pitched to high registers, even as her hand catches his and he gives her a companionable squeeze, not trying to reclaim it. "They are in their own way." And then obviously he needs to clarify, "I mean, not attractive to me, but I've seen many a bull take a fancy to a solid heifer." ALL THAT SEXY FARM TALK, Y'ALL. He's got it. And also the most complimentary language skills, really, how 'bout that solid? Not pretty, not lovely, he picks the adjective solid. He might be hopeless. IF HE IS, he doesn't know it though. Stefyr still shakes his head, "Not my brothers. I never knew how… It felt like I was breathing dirt, only I never noticed because I'd always breathed that way- like, with a chest so tight that you can't get a good gulp." His other hand leaves his pocket to make a tightening gesture at his chest as if he could help this complicated description. "Anyway. If you're not born there, I don't think it's a good thing for a person to choose unless that's what they love. It doesn't sound like that'd be what you love. If you wanted to do something different than candidate chores, I'm sure you could talk to Risali about assisting the Headwoman or the stores keepers or something. If you liked doing inventory." He's still thinking, even if it's not apparent, back to the earlier topics and what she might do here, dragon or no dragon.

Katailea giggles. Oh yes, sexy farm talk. Hopeless or not, if nothing else he's managed to lift her mode from what it was and find a different side to her than she usually lets show. "Like.. you're drowning," she offers her own comparison based on his description. That can understand. "You're probably right," about not running off to a farm. The trader shakes her head when presented the idea of talking to Risali. "Chores are fine." They're what most candidates do "and I don't know I need anything else to make me like it here." Faranth forbid she want to think about staying here should there be no dragon on the sands for her. "My dad is already going to be pissed."

"Does he know where you are?" Stefyr inquires easily, slanting a glance down toward the shorter woman. "My mum keeps writing. But, you know, through my da, even though she could just write herself." That last comes at a mutter, but it's another commonality he can share with his fellow candidate. "I don't know. I think I like that I don't have to do quite as much laundering of someone else's dirty socks, for example, by going to the office instead of just chores." He's at the office more often than found doing candidate chores, for sure. "I mean, at the office there's a chance I'll be asked to don a cape and jump from Risali's desk while she's working, but that's… I mean, better than dirty socks." He grins down at her and there is zero sign that he's kidding at all about any of that. Need more proof that Xanadu is that special brand of crazy?

"Yeah," Katailea nods. Her father knows where she is. "Just not why," she admits a moment later, rather pleased with the thought of it from the sound of her voice and the look on her face at that. Avoidance is apparently one of those things she's good at. "I've been washing someone else's dirty socks as long as I can remember," so while not favorite task she's not bothered by it either. "Somehow I can see that," she snickers. "Risali asking and I bet you look good in a cape." There's that teasing grin of her's again, followed by a more serious inquiry. "What's she like? Your mom." She's met Risali.

If Katailea expected to be chastised for this parent-child lie by omission, she's come to the wrong vendor because Stefyr's already nodding his head and saying, "Smart," to her choice. If all he knows about her father is that he's going to be pissed… well, his letters from his mum are probably a big piece of why he'll support this move. Maybe he wishes he'd made it himself. "Actually, Leirith asks. Because it will be badass." He says it all completely deadpan. He looks down at the other candidate with super serious eyes. "Mum is…" Only, he gives her a helpless look, a shrug of his shoulders and then a look of apology. It's like she's too many things and not enough of those things fit into right words so he's just giving up. Maybe he really does lack imagination. In lieu of this, "I don't think Risali appreciates the requests as much as you might imagine. She's really quite dedicated." He'll not have been the first to say so, but he'll be one of the loud ones. "Not that she doesn't have her moments," he'll allow after a beat, because… Risali. "Speaking of Leirith, though, I feel like I ought to be going to check on the pets." He is one of her MINIONS, after all. It would be part of his job to keep tabs on whether or not any of the live ones were surviving so far. "I'm going to head back to the barracks. After I get my shoes," he stops, glancing down at his bare toes. "You wanna come or-?" He gives a gesture along the beach, to suggest that she might prefer to keep walking.

Katailea wasn't expecting to be, but wasn't expecting not to either. "Well at least she writes," she says of his mother, even if those letters are though his father as he said. "I'm sure," she agrees given what he has to say about the Weyrwoman. Then again the time she met her was over a bottle of rum, so she'll have to take his word for it. A nod then about heading back. "Go ahead, I can find my way back."

"She writes…" Stefyr clarifies with a look that bears it with some small amount of grace, "…to tell me to come home." But he squeezes Katailea's hand lest that seem to end their talk on too sad a note. "See you," is as he's backing away, hand still held, until his step backward parts them, one final encouraging squeeze to that hand before he's turning on his heel to jog back the direction they came.

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