Campfires and Spooky Stories

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.

Rukbat has set beneath the horizon, and the creatures of the day now sleep. It is time… for the creatures of the night to rise! Come forth, ye ghosts and goblins, ye ghouls and gremlins! Come, ye beasts that suck the blood of the innocent! …but not mosquitos, hopefully - or at least, not too many of them. The word has gone out that it's storytime, or at least that there will be a campfire and some tales of terror. Also, cookies. There will be cookies - and are, a nice platter of them over there next to a bowl of BLOOD (by which we mean red punch, but shhh). It's … maybe not in the best taste, considering the recent MURDER AND DEATH in these woods, but NEVER MIND THAT. It's important to face your fears (and knee them in the crotch), so here we are. D'lei is feeding the campfire, getting it built up so that it makes some good flickering shadows against the dark forest trees. Is that motion over there? A serpent coiling through the brush? …well, yes and no. It's a dragon-tail, because we can hardly have a spooky forest without a Garouth lurking in it… even if the brindled bronze is mostly invisible except for the glow of yellow-lit eyes reflecting that fire.

When it comes to telling stories there is ONE dragon around that beats all he others so of course Talanoath would be in the area. Not like he can actually hide, his well rather large after all. A slow twitch and wiggle of tail and he is itching to bounce out (in a crushing, crashing sort of way) yet he manages to keep himself still (mostly). Nailii on the other had was in charge of getting snack things and is heading towards the area with a pair of baskets and a few waterskins over shoulder, a kettle grasped between a hand while a small lantern is in the other to light her way. She catches sight of the flickering fire and also gets a deep rumble of a voice in her mind to follow a trail that only Talanoath may know of. "Hey, I got the snacks, and tea stuffs." This said while she makes it to the fire in one piece, so close there!

Leirith wanted to be here, she really did, but Garouth is the King of Shadows, and Leirith would ruin every spooky story with a punchline or laughter and so… CLEARLY the logical and better choice was made. I GUESS. (STOP MAKING IT SO HARD TO META-INSULT YOU GAROUTH.) That doesn't mean Leirith isn't sulking about it while tending to her eggs, but it does mean that Risali is here sans her dragon, but probably came with D'lei because she is already here, settled much too close to the Weyrleader, and burrowed under a blanket because SOMETIMES SHE'S A BADASS, and sometimes she's this: a total coward. WHAT? YOU SHUT UP. Every sound makes her jump, every shadow sends those eyes darting towards the origin of movement and - a strangled sound as Risali practically jumps out of her skin and then punches D'lei in his arm because she's ANGRY ABOUT IT. Gently, of course. "This was the worst idea." WHOSE IDEA WAS IT ANYWAY? Because SUP, NAILII, you spoked her, and Risali is struggling to grab her crutch and get to her feet and hobble her way over to the brownrider like she can help. Mostly just to distract herself and walk with her back towards the fire. "Do you need help? What did you bring?" SEE. FOCUS ON NOT SPOOKS.

Remember that time in the forest when Nessalyn and Risali almost died? Because Ness certainly does, and she's not exactly keen on returning. "We're staying on the trail," she's informing another girl, who is carrying a lantern and leading the way while Ness hobbles along behind. Does she know this girl's name? NOPE. Does she like this girl? NOT EVEN A LITTLE. But the much younger girl has apparently attached herself to Nessalyn's side for the duration of the evening, and somehow that lead to this - venturing into the terrifying forest in order to listen to spooky stories. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLY A GOOD IDEA? The techcrafter looks mildly relieved (although tries not to show it) when she sees Risali, because maybe that means she won't be the only ridiculously paranoid person in the ring. "Are there sweets?" Because if she's going to do this, she's going to need sugar.

A few branches snapped under-paw just add to the spooky atmosphere, right? It's just plain thematic. Not that Risali needs any more atmosphere, because she's already putting those blankets and their protection-versus-monsters to the test. But the night of spooky fun has barely begun! D'lei grins at the punch from Risali "We'll do worser next time," he assures her, like the helpful weyrmate he is, and then he too looks over to the shadowy figure that… "Hey! Nailii!" The voice is a helpful clue. Also the tea. "I've got a kettle, uh…" Where was it? Right, there! He reaches for it, and checks for water before nudging it in against the side of the campfire while they approach. Another look up, and… he grins. "Yes. Almond cookies, caramel dips, and…" D'lei looks to Nailii, so's she can add whatever sweets she brought to the list.

Nailii glances to Risali and does a little step to the side to avoid any grabby hands to try and get what she has. She looks amused and grins a bit. "I got it, don't need you tripping or something." This said with an amused tone. As for what she has it's a surprise! Well no not really. The baskets are set down, along with her kettle and the water skins. "I brought redfruit for the caramel dips, and some cheese and bread, also some current cookies and a pair of redfruit cakes I was able to swipe from the kitchen when I did a run through." Hey she isn't innocent, she is just a dragonhealer. Talanoath warbles out slightly at the talk of food, and it seems his stomach grumbles right there and then. Or? was that something growling in the darkness? It does sort of echo a bit! "So yes we got sweets, and then I brought a few different teas with some sugar and cream for whoever might want that too." No worries she even brought cups for tea.

DANG RIGHT, NESS. Risali is being the picture child for Jumping At Everything, Screaming In the Movie Theater kind of ridiculous, SO YOU WON'T BE ALONE. But from beneath her blanket hood, Risali watches Nailii and then hooks her non-crutch-wielding arm through hers. "I'll trip you," comes on a playful tease, because HOW DARE YOU POINT OUT HER HANDICAPS, NAILII, but as soon as they are back at the fire, Risali is pretty much trying to become one with D'lei. In the not sexy way. She's squished against him and looking ridiculous and THAT'S HOW SHE FINDS NESSALYN, who is leading the way and maybe inspires Risali to pretend she's tough because for all of five seconds she sits up, lifts an arm in a wave, gestures to her small friend with a curious expression… and then jumps because Garouth is PROBABLY A JERK and buries her face right back in D'lei again. SOS. SEND HELP. WORST IDEA BRIGADE IN ATTENDANCE.

The spooky atmosphere of the woods doesn't improve, but Nessalyn does seem to find some strength in the fact that there's sugar to be had. "Too bad Sylv isn't here, I bet he'd make us something great." Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. She'll just have to make do with caramel dips and cookies and cake. Her gaze darts off into the forest when she hears something 'growl', and she sidles just a little bit closer to her younger companion, who is practically bouncing on her toes from excitement. "I love scary stories," the girl, Aeva, enthuses brightly. She's just brimming with gratitude and good feelings! And beside her is Nessalyn, like a dark, slightly paranoid shadow, trying to focus on how much that joy annoys her and not on the fact that this is probably where she dies. Risali's wave is returned, followed by a brief shrug because SHE HAS NO EXPLANTION FOR THIS, RISA. THIS PERSON JUST ATTACHED HERSELF AND NOW NESSALYN IS STUCK. When the goldrider jumps, Nessalyn jumps, nearly tripping over her crutch in the process. "Right. So. I'm sitting down." And no one saw her nearly stumble into the fire or anything.

Spoookily disappearing redfruit cakes! …okay, so not everything is spooky, at least not if all you do is add the word spooky to it. Tendrils of darkness reach from Garouth to Talanoath, like a shadowed fog creeping along the forest floor. « The fire does make them so much easier to find. » There's a measure of amusement there, as if entertained at how fear makes humans huddle closer to that same thing that could lure monsters from the depths. Of course, the truth is that they're not all that deep in the forest; just a bit, to where there's a clearing in between the trees with a stone circle. D'lei's putting the finishing touches on the campfire, and then he takes a step back and settles down onto one of the blankets spread out to sit on and/or hide underneath. Which is good, because pretty much as he sits down, there's Risali using him/ to hide under, which is not all that effective but… SHE MAKES IT WORK, OKAY? It's like she even draws courage from it, and his arm that shifts around her. SUCH BRAVE… for such brief, and Garouth certainly isn't going to admit to having had anything to do with that ominous creak overhead. Certainly not making a firelizard bounce on a branch. NOPE. D'lei grins, because he isn't traumatized by this forest, and his arm uncurls from Risali long enough to tug up a blanket and pull it around her for extra protection in with his hug. "So," he says. "Here we are, where many fear to tread…"

Nailii can only offer a grin back to Risali. "Oh I do believe that you would, honestly How are you feeling?." She questions while going about pouring water into a kettle and sets it near the fire so it will do the bubblebubble boil and trouble bit. Talanoath looks on amused, his tail lowly slipping out across some branches rattling them and making the sound echo slightly at the fridges of the firelight, which someone MIGHT catch the bit of movement if they are looking in the right direction. « Indeed, it is helpful but also a hindrance a good amount of the time. Though we are here so little for them to fear honestly. » Or perhaps there is plenty of them to fear with the big brown there if he keeps up his noise makings here and there in the dark. "Sounds like you get to tell the tales tonight D'lei." The dragonhealer says while setting out the food stuffs she brought, along with the mugs and the tea and well the rest. She knows how to pack a basket! As for Nessalyn she did catch that sorta stumbling bit and peeks over to make sure the other is ok.

Risali answers in two parts, first D'lei, to whom she probably looks at adoringly while somehow managing to attempt murder with her eyes as she leans into hugs and lets him pull a blanket in on this for that extra protection. "I hate you," she tells him, because THOSE WORDS ARE OMINOUS. And then she's blinking grey eyes to Nailii and answering her question with: "Like I hate D'lei." That's how she feels, Nailii. A LOT OF HATEFECTION. Just ignore her jumping again, and burrowing closer, and then clearing her throat so that it doesn't betray her by cracking when she says, "How are you?" BUT SHE SAW YOU, NESS. She saw that trip, and while she is too polite to laugh, she is very suspiciously pressing her mouth in against D'lei's shoulder to stifle a smile. Your badassery is safe with her, candidate. "I saw that." OR NOT. Risali whispers it though, mischief and laughter in her voice. "Coward." SAYS THE WOMAN CLINGING TO HER WEYRMATE LIKE A DERANGED MARSUPIAL UNDER A THOUSAND BLANKETS. "I will take some tea, Nailii." Those puppy eyes are asking for delivery. Look at her. You don't want to make her break out of this cocoon, do you? CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT.

Nessalyn is fine. TOTALLY FINE. Still freaked and ready to crawl out of her skin, sure, but physically she's fine. She sets her crutch aside before taking a seat, her injured leg stretched carefully out in front of her. There's no question that she flinches with every sound out of the forest, even when she recognizes the culprits as distinctly dragon-shaped. Knowing that there is at least one dragon in proximity does make her feel slightly better, but it doesn't erase her fears entirely. "Says the woman hiding under a bunch of blankets," Nessalyn retorts to Risali's traitorous whispers, glaring at what she can see of the Weyrwoman in the fire's glow. Aeva plops down beside Ness, wiggling feet in excitement, leaning forward when it seems D'lei is going to begin. Ness, meanwhile, is staring at the food like it's going to offer some sort of salvation from this ordeal.

« They have nothing to fear, » Garouth agrees with a mental amusement that rumbles down into deep-growled laughter, « …save fear itself. » BUT UH. There's rather a lot of that to be had, especially with a pair of troublemaking dragons to prey on the nerves of this group by their little additions to the natural sounds of the night forest. D'lei grins to Risali's violent hatred of him, and leans in to kiss at the back of her head as she explains her current stance to Nailii. "Next time, you can all tell the story of how she dismembered me in vengeance," he says, even as he cuddles Risali to him. "It'll be gory and terrifying, I'm sure." Which … he probably shouldn't be grinning about, but hey. D'lei takes a look around as Nailii suggests he start… then nods. "Well. When I was growing up, there was a cottage out in the jungle near the hold that people said was haunted. Nobody went out there, not if they could help it, until one day a new family came from out of the area… and they moved in."

Nailii smiles and nods to Risali. "Tea it is." She offers while looking through the basket and takes out a 'special' tea! IT IS SO SUPER SPECIAL! Well not that special but still. The point is Risali gets a different tea then the ones that have already been pulled out, with the kettle nice and hot she takes it from the fire and pulls the top off putting some tea into the little basket within and the tea is left to get it's steep on! She will place a cup near Risali along with a small jar of sugar and look some cream for said tea. As for food stuffs, she puts some here, and there and then goes about cutting the apple cake into slices. During this time a sneaky tail creeps out from the tree near where the dragonhealer is and snags the applecake that was not cut yet. Talanoath will get a little snip of a snack for his stealing ways. As D'lei is going about starting the tales Naili will go about making tea for whoever wants it and making sure they eat. Well someone has to!

The worst part is that you just know that Leirith is egging Garouth on, taking some kind of sado-masochistic kind of joy out of enduring every time her rider spooks in the woods. Risali accepts her tea from Nailii around a smile of thanks, pulls the cup close to her chest as she murmurs, "It would be a good death, D'lei. I would make sure it hurt a l -" And then she's jumping. OH YEAH. She doesn't know where you are, Garouth, BUT THAT GLARE WAS TOTALLY FOR YOU AND YOUR REIGN OF CRUELTY. So Risali cuddles back in against D'lei, presses a kiss to the side of his face that's too hard because her face hurts and then MAYBE DEFINITELY reaching out for Nessalyn's hand. LOWKEY THOUGH. Nobody will suspect a small line of blankets and hands disappearing underneath, right? Right. HAVE HER COMFORT. And then she's rapt, grey eyes fixated on D'lei as he weaves his tale, shaking her head when he reveals the VERY POOR CHOICE of some VERY UNFORTUNATE FAMILY. But she doesn't interrupt, she goes still, eyes wide and fixed, tea poised to drink without rising to her lips because if she's drinking she can't hear what's next, okay.

Nessalyn should probably be smiling more about the prospect of a story in which D'lei gets dismembered by Risali, only it's bringing up a few unpleasant memories that she'd rather not confront when EVIL DRAGONS are disturbing the wildlife around them. Instead, she focuses on Nailii and those treats, elbowing her companion to fetch them both some tea and snacks as D'lei begins. She straight up jumps when Risali reaches out for her hand because WHAT IS THAT CRAWLING OVER HER SKIN?!? But a rapid, panicked glance has her realizing that it's just a blanket-covered Risali and not a monster (maybe that's debatable), and her shoulders relax to their usual level of mid-woods tension. She does grab that offered hand after a moment, careful to keep it hidden beneath the blankets. I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED.

"They said they didn't believe in hauntings, and at first… it seemed like everything was fine." D'lei pauses, with a grimace to underscore that at first before he continues. "They had a girl about my age, and I'd see her at harper lessons… but she'd always leave, right after. I asked her why she didn't stay, and she said she had to go back or Auntie would be mad." D'lei lowers his head slightly, so that the fire catches the planes of it with deeper shadows. At least the lurking dragons have gone quiet for that story… though is it really better to be able to focus on the words and draw those mental pictures uninterrupted? "I didn't think too much of it, until one day my ma sent me out to deliver a message after lessons. And when I got there… it was just her, and nobody else. So I asked her where Auntie was, and she said that Auntie didn't like other people. And when she said that I saw the curtains flutter, and it felt like someone was staring at me." He shivers, just a bit, in a way that's probably theatrical… but it's hard to tell, in the dark and flickering firelight. "Maybe it was just my imagination, but she looked scared too, and she started telling me that I had to leave, that Auntie didn't like it. She practically pushed me out the door…"

"They said they didn't believe in hauntings, and at first… it seemed like everything was fine." D'lei pauses, with a grimace to underscore that at first before he continues. "They had a girl about my age, and I'd see her at harper lessons… but she'd always leave, right after. I asked her why she didn't stay, and she said she had to go back or Auntie would be mad." D'lei lowers his head slightly, so that the fire catches the planes of it with deeper shadows. At least the lurking dragons have gone quiet for that story… though is it really better to be able to focus on the words and draw those mental pictures uninterrupted? "I didn't think too much of it, until one day my ma sent me out to deliver a message after lessons. And when I got there… it was just her, and nobody else. So I asked her where Auntie was, and she said that Auntie didn't like other people. And when she said that I saw the curtains flutter, and it felt like someone was staring at me." He shivers, just a bit, in a way that's probably theatrical… but it's hard to tell, in the dark and flickering firelight. "Maybe it was just my imagination, but she looked scared too, and she started telling me that I had to leave, that Auntie didn't like it. She practically pushed me out the door…"

Rinian is making her way through the forest when she comes across the little group. She pauses, torn between which would be more polite. Should she ask if she can join them? But then that would be interrupting. Should she just join them? That would be presumptuous. So she ends up hovering quietly just outside of the gathering.

Don't worry, Ness. Risali has totally got your secrets under wraps — even if she is absolutely squeezing that hand with a little excessive pressure. Listen, she's scared, and this was the worst idea and D'lei is telling a good story. Such a good story that Risali draws in her breath on a strangled sound for feelings of being watched, and then abandons her tea in favor of gripping D'lei's knee with her non-Ness holding hand. SHE NEEDS MORE BLANKETS, AND MORE ARMS AROUND HER. STAT. "So what did you do?" Risali whispers, not really expecting a straight answer because it's a story. But she is invested, too invested to not realize that that quietly hovering figure is, in fact, Rinian and not Auntie. Maybe that's why Risa's hairs are standing on end, why she conjures up the courage to LOOK AT THAT WHICH LURKS and then SHRIEKS. And jumps. D'lei gets another hit, but hopefully not too terrible an interruption as Risali filters through spooked, to angry, to something between those two and motions Rinian over. COME ON OVER! TEA AND TREATS AND SPOOKS AND DRINKS FOR ALL!

Nessalyn is returning that grip with equal fervor, because this is a good story and she's still half-convinced their former attacker will appear from the depths of the forest. If 'Auntie' can stick around that haunted house, surely a crazed man with an axe can reappear, dead or not. She jumps a little when Aeva reappears at her other elbow with a plate of goodies, but it's nothing compared to the way she JOLTS when Risali shrieks. She probably makes a sound as well, although it's lost beneath the other woman's exclamation. "Don't do that," she hisses, smacking Risali's arm over the blanket with her other hand. Now that her heart is pounding and her pulse racing, she reaches for those treats brought back to her by her younger companion. Focus on the food, and not on the fact that D'lei is spinning a story that she just knows is going to follow her home tonight.

"I -" D'lei says, or at least, he begins to say, because he's interrupted by a shriek for that shadowy figure amid the trees. IS IT AUNTIE? …no. Okay, maybe Rinian is an auntie to someone, but she's not the spooky figure in the story. He nods a little, pausing to let Rinian get settled in with the blankets and snacks around the campfire… and then he resumes, and it is with an answer. A straight one, even! "I ran," he says, with a wry half-smile and then a tilt back of his head. "Ran straight back home and hid under my blanket until I convinced myself it was just my imagination." A grin, just for a moment before it flickers away like the firelight. "Only, the next day she wasn't at lessons. Or the day after, either." He's sunk from smile to frown as he tells this tale, and there's a moment's pause as his chin dips, then lifts again. "I never saw her again… but a week later, I saw her mother. She looked… a mess. Like she'd been crying. And she said they were leaving the area." D'lei is quiet for a moment, then lifts his head again. "I took down her notebook from the lesson room, and looked inside. Here's what it said." He uses a sing-songy voice, the sort to float creepily through those flickering shadows like a twisted version of a children's jump-rope song.

Auntie, Auntie, are you there?
Auntie says you oughtn't swear.
Auntie, Auntie, is it you?
Auntie watches all you do.
Auntie, Auntie, stay away.
Auntie, let me live today.

Rinian jumps when Risali screams and quickly looks behind her for what caused it! Takes a moment for it to dawn on her that she was the reason for the screaming. She offers a sheepish and apologetic look to Risa in time to see the gesture and so quietly joins the group, finding a place to settle easily. Ah, the non-creakiness and limber joints of the young. Who don't even realize how lucky they are. She's immediately caught up into the story, or the part she's heard of it, eyes going wide at the song.

We're just going to go with that pre-jolt making her extra jumpy, okay, and where Risali might normally fire back with a highly intelligent, "You don't do that," she responds by squeezing Nessa's hand just a little tighter for a fraction of a second. It's an apology as much as it is understanding, kind of like the grimace Risali's expression changes into for sheepishly apologetic looks from woodcrafters. Risali gives a small shake of her head that seems to be her own apology, and then she's all eyes back on D'lei as the story continues. There's another soft gasp for never seeing her again, and goosebumps that rise to attention all over her arms, that has her squeezing knee and hands that much tighter and looking for just a moment as if she might bolt. But she doesn't. She just stares at D'lei from beneath a million blankets (I know, somehow the number keeps increasing and we just don't know), wide eyed with anxiety. It's when he reaches the end of his song that she makes a strangled sound in her throat and shakes her head. DISPEL. "Faranth." Because it's all she can think to say. Well, that and, "Do you think she…?" You know. Killed her.

A rustle begins in the bushes, sounding quite far away at first and then grows closer. There's the sound of something being dragged across the dirt, pushing away stick and dirt in it's way. Fearsome? Hardly. At least not when the thing making all this noise emerges…aka Sylvarin with a little sled that is laden with a couple of crates of food and a couple of boxes of food. He's arrived just in time to catch the tale end of all that and he just kind of freezes in place after emerging. There's a decided frown on his features because /first/ of all how dare this be where he has to deliver food and second what in the /world/.

Nope. Noooooooooooooope. HARD PASS ON THAT SONG. HARD. PASS. Nessalyn is already shaking her head even before D'lei starts singing, but as soon as that creepy sing-song picks up she full-body shudders and grips Risali's hand like she's trying to crush it. "Don't you think the mother would've said something if it had killed her?" she murmurs to Risali, although her gaze shifts around the circle for back-up on this. "I'm pretty sure a mother who lost a kid wouldn't risk someone else moving into that house with a child." That's how mothers are supposed to work, isn't it? Aeva leaves her side for a moment to go retrieve drinks, and it's at this moment that she hears a rustling in the bushes that she's pretty sure isn't from those nefarious dragons. Again, her hand tightens around Risali, as she searches for the source of that terrifying sound, ready to attempt to bolt should their tormentor return. BUT NO, it's just Sylvarin, and as soon as she recognizes the baker she blurts out an angry, "WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"

Cielo skulks. Until he realizes his skulking, then he gets an odd and guilty look, straightening up and lingering in a way that's patently visible. It doesn't help that he JUMPS, too. With burning cheeks, he tries to make up for his lack of offering by slinking over to Sylvarin. "Um. Need a hand with those?" He asks in a hushed tone. Even if they're 'tween tales, he doesn't want to burst in on all… that. The situation is delicate enough as it is.

D'lei is quiet for a long moment, his face pensive as he stares out across the campfire. He doesn't answer Risali's question, though at least Nessalyn is there to offer LOGIC AND REASON. Which might even work to be calming, in principle, if not for those sounds from the forest. Like a dead body being dragged away. Or a murderer, coming closer. AUNTIE, AUNTIE, WITH YOUR SLED, AUNTIE PLEASE DON'T KILL ME DEAD. D'lei tilts his head with significantly less terror than the rest, on account of he's the one telling this story instead of hearing it, and - as it becomes clear who it actually is, and that neither of those new figures are actually hideous ghost-monsters - he grins. Just for a moment, and then he ducks his head to hide the expression while Nessalyn works out her terror on unsuspecting baker (and his new maybe-assistant).

Rinian hasn't been long enough in the spooky atmosphere to get entirely too worked up at the rustling, if anything she jumps more at Ness' angry response. She relaxes again when its the baker and another perfectly normal and not creepy scary person. Well, she assumes. It's hard to say for sure in the darkness, but she doubts creepy scary people would offer to help. She crosses her legs comfortably and holds out her hands to the warmth of the fire, not that the summer evening is exactly cold. Fires are just nice.

You can't just leave a girl hanging like that, D'lei. SHE NEEDS ANSWERS. But leave it to Nessalyn to come in with the logic, that Risali counters with a hiss of, "But what if the mother was just as trapped by Auntie? Mindhealers deal with all kinds of mental states, why not a woman who might have lost all sanity to torture?" AND WOULDN'T LOSING YOUR CHILD BE JUST THAT? "I mean, why didn't the mother fight to get her daughter out of there in the first place?" BECAUSE SHE WAS PROBABLY ALREADY BROKEN, NESS. THAT'S WHY. But then the dragging, and the NOPPPPPPPPPEEEEEE. Risali squeezes just as hard, her breath picks up, and - she's spared shouting because Ness does it for her. But that also makes her jump seconds before a shiver wracks her spine and Risali parts with a whimper she will never admit to making. It's momentary, secondary to the way that she blinks to D'lei and… maybe interprets that hidden expression for something else, because she's one-handedly pulling her blanket layers over D'lei's shoulders as well, curving fingers to scratch down his back as she settles and presses a kiss to his shoulder. And then she does what she does best: DISTRACTS. "Okay, next story. Whose got a good one?" YOU. CIELO. SYLVARIN. She is motioning you all towards the fire. Come hither, share the spooks.

"What's wrong with /me/? What the fu-" Sylvarin sucks in a breathe of air before hissing it out in frustration at the general gathering of people. "After all the trouble I go through…" The words are murmured under his breathe before his attention shifts to Cielo. SOMEONE has manners at least. There's an upwards twitch of Sylvarin's lips that could /probably/ be construed as somewhat of a half-smile. "Thank you, I'd appreciate." Only then there's people beckoning him towards the fire and the weird stories and the baker is….totally just starting to unload stuff. What? He /definitely/ didn't see any of that motion from Risali. Not at all! He /might/ consider joining after unloading everything though! There's a selection of juices and alcohol as well as various baked goods including redfruit on a stick with caramel coating…because why not!

"I was just assuming Auntie killed her while her mother wasn't there. It sounded like D'lei came over when she wasn't home." She is gonna rationalize her way out of the terror. "Maybe she just finally told her mother and Auntie wasn't happy, and they just barely escaped with their lives. Maybe she didn't come to lessons because they were all trapped in the house." Okay, she's not actually making it better. In fact, she's jsut squeezing Risali tighter with every sentence out of her mouth, until she has to cut herself off. Strange noises out in the woods are doing plenty to get her all amped up, no need to make it worse for herself. A glance that might almost be concerned goes in the Weyrwoman's direction, but it's there and gone again, her focus falling to the others in the circle. "Riri, do you have a story? Or maybe Sylv and… whoever," sorry, Cielo, "owe us one for trying sneak up on us." She has to justify her panic somehow. "Bring me one of those and I might forgive you," she says of the treats, gesturing to the open spot beside her. It's totally little Aeva's seat, but Ness is looking to put a bit more distance between herself and the girl.

Cielo keeps his head down and nods. "No problem!" If you HELP first, then no one gives you dirty looks when you take extra helpings of sweets. It is the perfect crime. He keeps glancing up on occasion when plucking, bracing, squaring, and carrying various sundries to indicated spots. Which is why he has the sense to chime, "Cielo," when his name is omitted. Casual as that. "Mayhaps in a bit." He looks right jittery, but also eager to get himself closer to that fire.

D'lei tilts his head a little toward Risali as she tucks that blanket around him in turn, and he takes the corner coming over his shoulder to tug it right into a wrap around them both so that the monsters will get a TWO FOR ONE deal. It's just neighborly! He puts a kiss in against her hair as she turns to look for more people and more stories, because yeah. It's time for someone else to bring the spooks! HE DONE HIS. And Nessalyn was definitely helping by explaining all the terrible things that Auntie might have done while still stopping short of murder. At least, if you count 'helping cause terror' as helping, which … D'lei will, at least. But it's not his turn anymore, so he just gives Risali a squeeze against his side and waits to see who will take up the spoooky torch!

Rinian is surprised when she gets asked. Little Miss Serious? Know any ghost stories? She looks a tad alarmed at being put on the spot and is quick to shake her head. "I…can't think of any at the moment." Even after that comment her expression turns thoughtful, as if she were desperatly trying to think if she's heard any, or knows any, or can make up any on the spot. Move along..there must be someone better suited!

Nessalyn's hand-squeeze is returned, that connection kept, those quiet moments of shared terror shared because NO REALLY, NESS. SHUT UP. YOU'RE FREAKING RISA OUT TOO. But at least she has D'lei's warmth, and shared blankets, and kisses pressed to her hair to help bring her back down from those anxiety-driven adrenaline highs. "What about you, Ness?" Don't you have a scary story? EVEN THOUGH RISALI ISN'T FORTHCOMING WITH ONE HERSELF. 'Content' isn't the right word, but it seems that, for now, Risali and D'lei are both… observing (and one of them is jumping - TOTES D'LEI, RISA IS JUST… YOU KNOW… SHUT UP), letting the people around them share and be spooky. For now.

"I have stories, /many/ stories." And they involve bugs and are /definitely/ not the type of stories that these people are looking for. Sylvarin continues to unload the little cart and after some time he'll /very/ reluctantly go to sit by the fire for a bit if for nothing else but to take a break from wading through the leaves. But he'll drop his name to Cielo before completely moving away, "Sylvarin." What a terrible introduction. "She's right, don't you have something to share? I imagine you have tons of stories. Burning bodies. Exploding bodies. Something like that?"

A frown tugs Nessalyn's lips downward as Cielo and Rinian both fail her, and then Sylvarin does as well. "Come here," she utters to the baker, demanding where he sits. She'll feel a little better if she has someone else familiar on her other side. And maybe she wants to have a shoulder in which to hide her face if anyone says anything particularly terrifying. "The only scary story that's coming to mind is a little too scary for this group." Mostly because it's the very true story of what happened to them in the woods, and she's staying mum about that. "But if no one else has anything to contribute," a pointed look goes to Cielo, since Sylvarin seems to believe the man has something to say, "I suppose I could try to come up with something." Or maybe Aeva will grace them with a story. Sure, she's just barely old enough to be a candidate, but she still might have a good tale - provided she's not actually a ghost.

Rinian looks hesitant, "Well…I do have something, but it isn't quite the type D'lei was telling. I heard about it from my grandmother. When she was younger, she had an Aunt that liked to take her down to the beach to play, but it was a long day with the ride and all. When they left in the morning it was a fine day, and they had a lot of fun at the beach. Too much fun it turns out. They stayed later than they should, and on top of that a storm come up out of no where." She pauses and then continues, "They tried to beat the storm, but couldn't, but thankfully they saw a small holding and knocked on the door to seek shelter. A kind older aunty let them in. The place was a little worn down, but warm and dry. The nice auntie fed them and gave them a place to sleep that night." She takes a breath and continues, "They rose early the next day, when the weather had cleared. They couldn't find the auntie, so they left a note and some marks and went on their way. They thought a bit odd that they hadn't noticed the cothold before on other trips, but they guess they just hadn't paid attention. Anyway, on their way they got to talking to another traveler and they shared stories about the storm and how they found shelter. But the man they spoke to, when they told him, he looked shocked first..and then scared…"

Sylvarin easily obliges to Nessalyn's demands and scoots over so that he's situated beside her. He'll snag one of the bottles of alcohol along the way (Risali said it was fine, ok?) as well as a box of cookies that have been frosted to look like weird orange fruits with wedge segments (pumpkins). He'll snag one and offer the entirety of the box to Nessa before his blue-green eyes shift towards Rinian. The baker leans forward slightly, head tilting to the side before taking a sip of his drink. For now the baker falls quiet. He'll likely sit around and listen to Rinian finish her story and perhaps wait for one more to get told before heading back to the Weyr with his sled-thing. Of course, he'll also adequately hide Nessa's face in case something particularly horrifying gets told. Will he save them from possible serial killers in the woods though?? EHHHHHH. Maybe. Who knows! Hopefully it isn't a question they'll have to find out the answer to!

Nessalyn definitely isn't cuddling, but she's absolutely going to take advantage of the fact that she has another person to stand between her and the terrors of the nighttime forest. And there's only about a 95% chance that she'll shove Sylvarin in front of any terrifying axe-murderers who might emerge from those shadows. But for now, she just sort of leans in his direction, still clinging to Risali with one hand. No doubt when Rinian gets to the next part of her story, or when one of those damn dragons decides to start rustling trees again, she'll make better use of the baker beside her. She reaches for one of those cookies, munching with some semblance of contentment. As long as this story (and any that follow) doesn't contain creepy sing-song verses about evil Aunties, things will be just fine. She'll even offer up a story of her own after Rinian is finished, one which involves a spurned lover and a near-deadly haunting. Eventually, the fire will begin to die down, and all the storytellers will venture back through the woods to the safety of their homes. Will they all make it back safely? Only time will tell.

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