Beware the Jabberwocky (Neifeth's 7th flight)

Wanderin' Wherry Tavern
// It is often whispered, in the crowds that converge here, that a certain Weyrleader was asked what he wanted in the remodeling of the pub that was not so long ago given a refreshing. He muttered back over the rim of his ever-present mug, "I don't care what you do with the place, just so long as there is plenty of ale." With that in mind, cask after cask of ale lines the walls of the tavern, the remodeler's idea of a jest. As they age, the casks bring a real rustic atmosphere to the pub, along with the deeply wooden flavor that seems to be the theme throughout.
The lighting is dim, as it should be in all good pubs, and the tables and chairs are plentiful. A long mahogany bar, intricately carved with runner beasts, stands vigilant duty at the head of the bar, lined with stools for those patrons that seek the bartender's company. Behind it are drinks for those not inclined toward ale, as well as a door leading to the small kitchen where snacks are made and a back room that probably holds yet more ale.

High Sky
// You are flying high above Xanadu Weyr. From here you can only identify the general features of the weyr. To the east are the Rubicon River and Lake Caspian, enfolding the weyr docks and beaches. A great spread of forest is on the northern end, though tiny clearing can be seen within. Bordering the river and lake is a spread of meadow and beast paddocks, while the main weyr seems to lay closer to the rock cliff outcropping in the west. At least one massive building can be seen there, as well as what looks like unnatural breaks in the cliff wall. There is also found the weyr Starstones, as well as a large natural clearing pocketing into the cliff wall. //

CONTENT WARNING- This log contains graphic descriptions of dragons eating and killing farm animals, and it's not fluffy. It's rated M for sexual implications and violence.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
- Lewis Carroll

Oh there's trouble afoot; on any given night, the tavern plays host to a myriad of Xanadu's residence. From the cook who started drinking the cooking wine well before the lunch hour, the builders constantly trying to Xanadu proof structures (bombproof, bullets, fires, etc), then you have the riders here to try and loosen up a tight wadded Wingleader or Second. We all come to this happy place to let go and relax. Well, mostly. On this summer evening, there's a small stir, three male riders sitting around a table and perched in the center is one Evi. Usually, the young woman is brightly dressed, no cosmetic usage, and full-length attire at absolutely all times. That's not the case tonight as she has on a salacious dress of black shimmering chiffon-like material that cuts all the way to her hip, a swooping neckline, and a back that shows off every inch of ivory skin it has to offer. If you squint correctly or the light was a TOUCH brighter, you'd be able to see underthings and the like. Settled ONTOP of the table, eyes lined with kohl and lips painted a shade of red that would make red fruits jealous she's entertaining with the subtly of a hammer to the face.

Trouble afoot, or else with its trouble-butt planted on some surface or another. D'lei steps into the tavern, because… well, maybe he's trouble, maybe he's looking for it, or maybe he's jus incidental to that whole trouble thing. He shuts the door behind him, then takes a moment to tuck back hair blown by the wind before taking a look around to see just who's here. There's the various bits and pieces, from the somber and serious drinkers to the flamboyantly attired and attention-garnering… whom D'lei notes, admittedly, but his gaze passes by, continuing his observation of the room before settling back to… the bar within the bar, the place for the obtaining of drinks! And that, the potential source of trouble but none of its focuses, is where D'lei approaches.

A drink is passed to Evi, who is obviously drunk, or at least you'd assume she's drunk with how she is behaving. The deep blue and pink concoction is sampled and spit back into the glass with a sour, disgusted pinch of lips and a dramatic cough that becomes a whining pout. Tossing herself on the floor, glass in hand, she marches up toward the bar and right into D'lei. With an ungraceful push of the hand that is luckily NOT holding onto a drink, dismissive and downright rude, she mutters, "Um, I am walking, shards nobody even pays attention anymore." Trouncing forward, she arrives at the bar and leans in. The poor bartender is busy getting an order, as there's a loud clearing of her throat before she leans over and snaps her fingers twice. "Excuse you. How long have you even worked here." The dripping disdain in every word is palpable, body language offensive, and haughty.

"…are you?" D'lei asks, with a slight rise of his brows at the small greenrider who's just shoved him… a push he yields to, though he doesn't go far; more just a sway aside than anything else. "Because really, to me, it seems rather more like you're looking for a fight." His lips quirk, a wry sort of amusement as he watches that ire applied to him, to the person behind the bar, to… well. To everyone in range, it might seem. "Though either you're not very good at it, or else you don't think very well of yourself." His shoulders lift, a slight shrug, then lower again, relaxing back into a posture that's more or less at ease but in a way where his weight's shifted more toward the balls of his feet than not, and he's ready to move with whatever may come.

"Well duh that is what walking looks like." Evi drolls out, twisting to stare back at Dashiel, her body still lying partially on the bar and free hand extended with fingers clasped, threatening to snap them again. With a roll to her nose that's usually reserved for terrible smells, she sneers at him, eyes going from the tip of his head to feet and back then rolling. "I'd like to see someone try to fight me. Obviously, you aren't going to fight me. Probably ruin your only shirt." The bartender knows Evi has been in this position before and comes over with a long-suffering shake of his head, quickly taking the drink and pressing a glass of water where it was. "No, bring the other back, but make it correctly. You shirked your duty, and now I have to deal with substandard liquor. What kind of addled wher does that?" Leaning further forward and attempting to hand the glass of water back, "Get the ugly old guy behind me one too, Faranath knows he needs it more than I do." The bartender relents because he is a smart man who doesn't fight proddy greenriders. Two drinks appear, filled with sweet-smelling crimson liquid mixed with bitter citrus in shot glasses. The appearance at least gets most of Evi off the bar, slithering back and offering the drink to D'lei. "Do four of these and then you can fight me; I'll even let you throw the first punch because you're old." There's no possible way this tiny woman, can be walking after four shots.

"So I see," D'lei observes of Evi's re-framing of reality to suit her, and he half-smiles at her comment about his shirt. "And here I thought you didn't like my fashion choices… I didn't realize you were just worried about losing the chance to see them." The half-smile sharpens for a moment into a toothed grin, and then… Evi brings him a drink! D'lei glances to it, then back to her, and his lips curve in a smirk as she instructs him in what it is she thinks he's supposed to do.. "Oh, honey." There's amusement in his tone, a trace of scorn… but more than that there's a sort of pity in his words. "If I were interested in playing by your rules, don't you think I'd have already started?" So, no, he makes no movement to accept that glass of crimson-and-citrus that Evi pushes toward him, instead simply keeping his gaze on her with a steadiness that's at least partially due to the fact that - while she may or may not had four shots - he's certainly had none.

"Fashion? No, no, I'm concerned that by the end of the night, I'll be the reason a man has one torn piece of fabric to his name. No matter how drab you look in it. Every minute I spend staring at you, I can feel my essence seeping from me; it's probably why you're always moping. Did the other girls just become purposeless lumps of cartilage?" Rocking forward, Evi croons each word with dripping venom, pushing the glass toward him, forcibly, "Take it." SHe's demanding now, body tense and tucked in like a feline preparing to pounce, "How often does anyone buy you anything? And you've been playing whether you agreed to or not." A sudden turn of face and she pulls her hand back and downs one shot, then the other before sighing with a hiss of disappointment.

Outside Neifeth stretches out atop the ridge, the last of Rukbat's rays sinking below, and as any diurnal stalker will tell you, dusk is an optimal time for a hunting trip. Shimmering with the pulsing glow of a female who is over waiting, she croons her invitation to nearby males—a twisting sound of sweet surrender, a challenge for only the bravest and foulest among them. «Hellooo? Is anyone out there? Oh, I'm so terribly scared. Does anyone know where a girl might find a snack?» WIthout waiting for a reply, she's up in the sky, a Jurassic shriek of defiance echoing off the rock and fading into the trees.

D'lei grins as Evi insults him, his clothes, his life choices… "And yet you're still here." Essence draining by the moment! And D'lei still makes no move to take that drink, not even the lift of an arm as the liquid inside splashes up and makes a wet spot on that shirt of his. "Oh, yes. We all play our games," he muses, with a slight lift of his chin, an upward tilt as he considers distant thoughts and is amused by what he finds there… or so one might judge from the expression he grins back to her. "So… are you having fun yet?" Those amber-tinged eyes are bright, almost gleaming in the purposefully-dim light of the tavern that keeps people from seeing themselves and their drinking partners too closely… because if they did that, perhaps they wouldn't like what they'd find.

Outside, the light is also dimming, Rukbat's sink countered by a different sort of rising, and the yellow-tinged eyes of Dashiel's lifemate have their own spark of opening. Garouth stretches, like those shadows do, like the ones of his thoughts expanding, and shakes out his wings before he launches to the sky. « She does, » is the bronze's conclusion, his statement - such as it is - among the darkness of his mind that mingles with the dusktime-shadows spreading like dark-pooling blood across these shores.

Still here, but at the sudden awakening of her ravenous lifemate jolts into full view, there's a guttural gasp of shock. At the table, she's long forgotten the three riders who were all waiting for this moment are gone, already where they need to be while this strange man of secrets and Evi verbally spar. Gathering both glasses in one hand, she moves to flick the spot on his shirt, the last poke for fun before sliding out of her strappy lace heels and, don't mind the expression, dashing out the door toward the feeding grounds. With a loud spit back, "Later, we have a date." And the relief of finally being themselves looms shortly. Without proper light, she misses the signs that Dashiel may, in fact, have been playing her this whole time, it's a long run to the feeding pens, and her dragon has beat her to it. The concentration it takes to control the starving, livid Neifeth, makes the journey harder still.

Neifeth notes her suitors, counting them each as she circles the feeding pens before diving down to scoop a herdbeast out and drop it from a harrowing height. SPLAT. The animal tumbles to the ground with a loud crashing sound that shakes the earth with bones' crunching and the burst of vital organs. Diving down, the beast is split open with a talon, echoes of darkness flowing from her mind as it roils an endless expanse of night, «Do you know what you want? Do you have the skills to come finddd ittt» Jolting, mocking laughter presses into the males who dare find themselves suitable for her, a siren begging from the shore while sailors clash on the unforgiving rocks. Black inky liquid oozes forth, oil, sludge, moving in tumultuous waves in an instant she's on the herdbeast with snippy dark muzzle buried in the core of her kill. «Please remember the dress code.» Dark water turns sickening red, the smell of decay echoing among the forest of her mind as the dress code is obvious to any newcomers — its blood.

D'lei may not be drunk, but now his shirt is? Well. Perhaps it deserves a nice drink to celebrate all its hard work. That flick certainly does nothing to dissipate the toothiness of his grin, and as Evi runs out to her own date with a blood-spattered flight, D'lei's laughter follows her… and so does he, as that ready-stance turns to a different sort of lightfooted prowl. He's unhurried, a step outside and then an easy lope, making his way through the shadows in the form of one of the hunting-beasts that trace their courses from Garouth's mind, spawned of shadows and hidden in them… but never mind that; who of these males would notice his darkness when Neifeth's gleams with its inky luster, its blood-rich shine.

So yes, Garouth hunts, and as the brindled beast makes a dive from darkened skies to take a herdbeast with his talons, to take its blood for his own nourishment, D'lei keeps to the shadows - gets into position, waits for his own part in this hunt in which they partake. And Garouth sizes up the competition, as well; the other males with whom he will chase, who will make the hunting-pack whose purposes are not his own, and yet may still - in the end - serve his desires more fully than their own.

Less sure of her path, Evi is late, late, late for a very important date. Not really a date with a flight winner, but a date with her soulbonded partner who needs her guidance in this moment. Arriving at the far north corner where the feeding grounds meet the clearing, her bare feet are dirty and eyes wide as she adjusts to the sounds of livestock being devoured by hungry dragons. Sacrifice's that still turn her stomach over, the bawling and bleating a symphony in the night. Standing far off, jaw clenching in concentration with brows furrowed, the barely clothed greenrider balls her fists and stomps her foot, "NO." Screaming a command at the predator that's loosed herself upon the weyr, stopping her from making what could be a fatal mistake.

Five blues, three browns, and two bronzes joined the would be victi- suitors. Yes, suitors, as Neifeth hisses at any who dare to even glance her way, dipping forelimbs into the belly of the beast until entrails catch on talons and she's dissecting it for science, to find out what kept it alive and relish the warmth of it on her hide. Garouth is noted among those circling like wherries at a kill, the pitiful excuses for males. Broadcasting a broken, off-key song meant to unravel anyone not fully committed to the test ahead, she laps up as much blood as is possible from the ruined husk that was once a cow. No warning, the music of the night clanging a warning bell before she launches into the sky with a swiftness that few have in their arsenal. Smaller than most greens, she moves through the air like an avian, descending up, up, up, with a creel of superiority. «Goodbye losers.» She echoes back with a taunt, leaving the earth to the clumsy snake food.

D'lei keeps to the shadows, even once he's arrived. It might be considered a form of mercy, or perhaps a rarefied version of cruelty, but the reality is far simpler, a pack-predator, a group-hunter lying in wait until the moment is right for him to strike. This part of his body, of D'leiGarouth, is not the one that's needed now; now is the time for the brindled bronze to drink deep of blood, to draw its energy inside him… to answer Neifeth's song with the eerie wolf-call of a hunting pack, sounds not exactly meant for her - the wolves do not sing to their prey - but nevertheless filling the same air, the same space with their discordant harmonies that rise from the shadows and create them anew.

Garouth's not the first in the air after Neifeth - that honor goes to a smaller blue - but the brindled bronze's powerful haunches carry him higher in that initial jump, gaining the clearance to spread his wings and beat them powerfully against the air, lifting him up into the skies amid the buffeting gale of gusts left in the wake of his rising - and that of the others. Garouth's no stranger to this; for all his turns away, he spent turns before that flying in formations with other dragons and learning how to navigate those chaotic wafts of wind… and in chasing greens and golds, as well. So he's quick to the skies, just as quick to evade the talon-swipe of a brown who's taken that call to blood-lust seriously… and who soon finds a different mark, all but colliding with a blue in an assault that takes the smaller dragon out of the picture… but slows the brown as well, tangled for a critical moment in his opponent's wings.

No thought to who is here with her, Evi looks around to spot the bluerider from last flight and a brownrider who shows up every time. Gluttons for punishment, she thinks privately, arms crossing over chest defensively to prevent the dragging about that can happen with younger riders who lack discipline. This is her 7th flight in the 4 turns since her dragon reached maturity and with experience comes tricks to prevent unpleasant incidents such as sprained wrists or bruises from being jostled. Toes splaying out with the ecstasy of release that comes with the launch, Evi is fully Neifeth and frozen in place as the Seelie becomes Unseelie, and the visions of death, decay, and trickery dance through both of them. A wicked grin lights her face, and a loud, crazed laugh shatters the dark. Who is hunting who, though? Neifeth's music fills the world around them, visions of a forest bathed in blood as the ground itself squishes. Running in place, the sensation of going nowhere even as she drifts ever higher.

Neifeth finds boredom in the climb, noticing the following males and crooning a taunting lash as a blue and brown collide. Without a flick of warning, the neon green sails that serve as a giant warning bell, if anyone would ever listen, snap out, and then in as she throws herself AT her suitors. It's a game of chicken because only the brave deserve to remain, and she's fully willing to bowl through them, talons outstretched and mouth open prepared to rend flesh and add green to the blood darkened motif. A girl has to try many different things, and she might feel best if wearing one of them. Seconds before she'd reach them, she dives beneath and rolls, catching a blue with back talons, using him as a launching pad as she gets behind the group and dives toward the plateau that borders the Weyr. A breath before her body would hit trees, she turns and curves upward on a thermal, crashing a bronze nearly into the thicket «What? You don't want to play with me?» The sweet sound of a bloodthirsty wretch, turning the defeat into a private joke, «Oh look at me, I'm Tsuith, and I think I'm Sooo special. PSH. Puh-lease.» Even with all of that, she's tiring, she has lost more than half of them after a twist near the starstones with another staggering change of direction. A dragon this size is slippery, a rabbit capable of squeezing through holes that elude even large greens, but there's no stamina in the fae trickster, and the fast beats of her wings aren't going to keep her aloft much longer.

Neifeth's attack run is a worse threat to the smaller dragons; the thicker hide and larger size of the bronzes helps mitigate the amount of damage her talons could do, keeps her from finding their vital organs like she did that of that hapless cow. So yes, some of them scatter, but Garouth isn't one of them; his own talons extended, his wings already tattered - so what more could she do to them? Not that he could take a severe injury, of course, but he's fearless in the face of a threatened one - and his courage is born out as Neifeth pivots. Now it's a challenge that the smaller dragons can take more readily, the dive-rebound and thermal-aided leap one that strains under the bulk of larger beasts, requires even more harrowing a dive and snap of wings that seem like they might break beneath the strain… but this, too, is a challenge Garouth can meet; the adrenaline-laced dive, the spires of the trees less sharp than a green's talons but still wholly capable of impaling a dragon should those wings fail… but Garouth's don't fail. D'lei's voice rises, from the trees… though it's hardly words, or even his usual tones, but an echo of wolf-song sung through his own throat, the harmonies of Garouth's mindvoice as the bronze rises, rises, pivots at the top of his arc and dives again toward… not quite where Neifeth is, nor even where she quite intends to be, but where he expects she'll be after her next twist to escape the foolish brown who thinks that he - being in the size category between bronzes and blues - has what it takes to succeed. He tries, he fails, and that's when Garouth's talons are there, his weight bearing down on her as he uses even gravity to aid him before the narrowed wings whose planes guided that dive snap open again to catch the air with a force that will surely bruise them - but his talons have caught a tricksy green who will surely add more injuries to scar against the interfolded bronze and shadow of his hide… but is, nonetheless, caught.

Evi's body sways from side to side, head rolling as her eyes reflect the starlit night that surrounds her lifemate. A cat and mouse game that always ends in ichorshed by those who enter a battlefield ill-prepared for a fight to the death. In search of a gladiator, the finicky green finds herself in a pickle as she slams into Garouth with wings struggling to free themselves from the striped pattern that is so last season. Wriggling up, she grabs on with teeth and nips hard enough to leave fang marks in the upper forelimb of her captor. Struggling and twisting, she finally allows the wolfish bronze to claim her, «This was obviously my plan the whole time.» As the brutality of the flight fades, Evi grapples with finding her partner as she stumbles toward the guest weyr with the walking ability of a newborn foal; maybe those shots were a BAD idea. Now her coordination is sorely lacking when it's pivotal to grab onto someone as the steps prove harrowing in the dim light and draconic fog. Unable to prevent what will happen next, there's a moment wherein Nei's attempts to escape she bats at anyone nearby and rakes her nails down the arm of a bluerider who attempts to poach as the loss hits him, and she's right there. Some part of her searches for whoever owns this bronze, the strange creature that haunted them months earlier, is now wrapped up with her darling lifemate.

Herringbone teeth may be the more traditional pattern, but Neifeth's making her mark for the dragontooth style… though she's likely enough to discard it as a failed experiment before long. Still, that's in the future - a realm nearly as alien to dragonkind as the past - and Garouth rumbles with the body-spanning knowledge of his triumph for this moment… even if Neifeth undercuts it with her insistence that this, too, was all an aspect of her own machinations. « And now… you have me to deal with. » Or he has her; for there's an undertow to his words, to his mind and to his physical presence that keeps his grip on her tight - for he's not about to let go of her until he's through, not trusting that seeming acceptance to not be followed by a talon-slice and turn to fly anew amid her mockery. Which she'll do, in time, but for the moment - for now - Garouth has caught her, and he'll have his way with her. And now, well… now's also the time for Garouth's other side to make his catch, to emerge from the forest along a vector that - like his dragon's - intersects his quarry. His talons are hands, but no less suited to grasping; his urgency the same as Garouth's, his expression a match to the dragon's mindspace in that ineffable way where dragon and rider become one at … all moments, perhaps, but even more at this one. He steps up beside her, arm reaching as if to go around her in a motion between steering a drunkard and wrapping his own echo of Garouth's claim around the form of Neifeth's rider.

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