Baiting Beasts

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.

Early morning at the Weyr routinely sees a bustling of activity. From the crafters and traders getting set up for their day, to the weyrfolk already starting about their chores and tasks in the wee hours where Rukbat hadn't even started to rise. Thick clouds mask daylight, hiding the normal glorious pastels that paint the sky. Instead, various shades of grey congregate above, moving in sluggish form towards the horizon. Storms had rolled through in the night, leaving the tropical Weyr damp, trickling of droplets falling from the various shrubbery and sheer rock faces along the cliffs that line Xanadu's long shoreline. The dunes are pock-marked with the heavy rainfall, but still crest and valley in the simply manner of their regality. Not all that far from one furthest end of the beach, where those unpleasant, sharp boulders curl in to form the edge of the inlet, Zyddagath is lounging on the sands- as much as this particular dragon lounges, anyway. Settled a good distance from the languid reach of the Lake's waves, the massive skeletal shipwreck'd beast is set up upon keel, hull only slightly off-set where he'd been beached. He is all but lifeless, where motion is absent save the unfortunate animate movement of his chest where breath faintly causes rise and fall. Black sails are neither risen nor battoned down, laid instead partially unfurled on the sands. Two buckets are by massive, blackened forepaws, the liquid within a dark, thick substance that could only be dragon oil. Ki'lian stands on the bronze's forearm, a brush in one hand that strokes over long lengths of dragonhide, leaving it to glisten and sheen where salt water constantly leaves it cracking and dry. His notorious bloodrings have been removed from his fingers, and are instead threaded onto that silver necklace of his. He's clothed in just his tunic with its top few buttons left undone, his form-fitting black leather pants and tall boots. Silver'd buckled belt lacks his cutlass and dagger- the sheathed weapons and his longcoat set aside towards the rocky face of the cliffside. In his black-wrapped hand is a flask, opened as if he's been well on his way to making good use of it throughout this process that has hardly just begun.

By and large, distance running is not a friend to big, muscular men and yet, plodding at a steady pace along the shore comes steadfast Stefyr. The focused set of the candidate's sweaty face lends weight to that universal truth; this is not an activity undertaken for fun where so many other physically demanding pastimes are almost certainly set to with zeal. His steps falter as he comes into sight of the heap of not-really-rotting dragon. His path adjust, though, to bring him closer and closer still to the unusual bronze and his rider. He draws up within quiet shouting distance and he snags the bottom edge of his partially perspiration-soaked shirt to wipe sweat off his face, off his eyes before calling up to the rider, "Hey! I need to talk to you." The baritone call is not belligerent, nor is it particularly disrespectful, but neither is there any hint of deference or even the easy manner present at their last brief meeting. He steps nearer to the dragon that probably intimidates more often than he is ignored (as he is more or less being here now by the tall blonde), to add in a more conversational pitch, "You're a hard man to track down." He knows because he's been quietly trying for sevens. The bronzerider, if he has any handy contacts around the Weyr might have heard tell of vague inquiries being made by the candidate in question.

There is unlikely to have been any surprise to Stefyr's approach, not that it appeared to be intended as such. Although the Black Pearl'd dragon makes no effort to adjust his haunted figurehead of an angular, unpleasant face towards the man, there's a faint change in the hue'd whirl of his ghastly faceted eyes. Phantasmal green trespasses into the almost constant orange-red that resides there, not all unlike the lost souls that traverse his waters of the endless purgatorial plane of his mind. Amusement. The closer Stefyr gets, the more… recognition he must receive, for the feeling of dread starts to invade. Starts to press, starts to threaten to suffocate in the dense, pregnant air of whatever it is that this dragon creates around him when he acknowledges something.. someone. Ki'lian's motions in oiling are not so much a thing of dragonriding experience, as that which came well before it. The precious care of a ship, the demand to keep it spotless and running in just the right sort of order. Although he drinks, as any man of the sea would, during his 'chores', a sense of relief is unbidden in the darkness of his expression. A faint reprieve from tension, where the oiling of his dragon and the subsiding of unbidden, unrelenting overshared itching is slowly brushed into absence. The border between minds is too grey, too hazy, too difficult to define in this pair, and some things of his own weyrlinghood such as this have never fully resolved. Whatever warning Ki'lian was given of the young man's arrival is more or less ignored up until he's called outright. Yet, the bronzerider doesn't turn around at first either, continuing to tend to that area of corrosion where time and timelessness has eaten away and frozen in eternity the aged corrupted copper of Zyddagath's throat. After the second comment, Ki'lian turns to regard the lad from on high, one brow risen curiously, the flask raised just enough to be some indication of a greeting. "Comes with the territory, mate." Being hard to track down, that is, though what 'territory' he refers to remains vague with an intentional sort of enigmaticism that even if asked is likely to not receive a clear description. "What can we do for you?" Smug. Clearly, blatantly smug in the manner of a man who is used to people wanting something from him, and he being all too happy to oblige…. for a price.

Maybe it's the lack of oxygen from running as far as he's come this very early morning. Maybe it's that his exposure to Leirith has been slowly driving him MAD and the creepy tendrils of oppressive awful feelings is the last mental straw, or maybe it's just that as Stefyr has been known to claim without evidence: he really is sometimes an asshole. His voice holds more candor than sharpness as he brings his hands to his hips. The move is not aggressive, simply a familiar pose to anyone's who's seen enough weyrlings or candidates still coming into better conditioning, just a stance that encourages the deep breaths that serve to rejuvenate taxed muscles. "I'm not sure if you can do anything for me. You might just be some overblown lunatic." Rather than a useful overblown lunatic. "But I'm taking the time to find out." Read: he's willing to deal, if his opening hasn't put the bronzerider off entirely.

Some of the time that Ki'lian takes to observe the other is attempting to connect recognition. He knows many people, and he doesn't forget a face, but he does forget names that don't matter… until they do. That dragon might as well be a ship, for he doesn't do anything but loom there like some forsaken vessel. A cadaverous, horrendous backdrop to the man perched on his forelimb. "I've been called worse." Ki'lian takes the insult like it's actually a compliment, a huff of a breath through his nose the only other response it gets. Apparently it's hard to put him off, at least like this. Keep in mind, there is afterall no greater thing than he. "There's only one way to find out." Encouragement. Almost.. gentle, beckoning encouragement akin to a skeletal hand gesturing one to step forward. Climb onto that Stygian vessel and be taken on that final ride. "What is it you desire, mate? I can't hand you that dragon you think you want, but there are plenty of other things. Work? Wealth?" He tilts his head to the side just-lightly as he considered Stefyr for longer, "Women?"

A single blond brow quirks at the last word. There Stefyr is in loose shorts and a short-sleeved tunic that is sticking to his chiseled physique in places thanks to perspiration. Even now, he looks like the Thread blasted cover of a Pernese romance novel (that he has previously been compared to). The brow says, 'Really?' without saying the word. And if Stefyr has issues in that area for other reasons, clearly he's not about to share that with Mr. Tall-Dark-n-Handsome over there. Nevertheless, his answer when it comes is straightforward, "Protection." His hands fall from his hips and he moves toward rider and dragon. "Is that within your skill set?" A dubious glance goes toward the wreck that really is a dragon, if a man squints just right.

While that questioning brow is raised in his direction, Ki'lian partially turns a shoulder, letting that callous intensity of his too-light gaze be redirected for a moment. The oiling brush is tossed lazily, uncaringly towards one of the buckets, hitting the side and falling between the pair rather than within. A thumb and forefinger of his black-wrapped hand twist closed the stopper of his flask, and it's tucked away into a hidden breast pocket in the same motion he has of disengaging himself from his dragon. The effort is smooth enough, a grace to that darkness that is ever-present, as welcoming as the rest of him for all the wrong reasons. His good hand is set upon hide as he descends in a single, nonchalant movement, landing back into the sand on heavy black boots. It's all show, you see. For now that alcohol has been tucked away, and his unfinished task set aside, Stefyr has been granted all of the Devil's attention. Ki'lian faces him again once he's properly on the beach, taking a few steps towards him to blunt the distance, to decrease the needed volume for the conversation by habit and necessity. This isn't a good place to make business, but he shows no desire to deter or defer the makings of a request. "Interesting." There is no more dangerous word for him to state. Nothing more dreadful that could be sparked from him by the statement of another. "I would have put my marks on women." He states in his accented, curiously humored low drawl. His sleeves were drawn up for his duty, wrinkled just above his elbows, allowing the new and old and somewhere inbetween scars that traverse his arms to carve malicious detail into all that makes him, him. "There is very little that isn't." In his skill set, that is. Both suggestive and not, he lets that sit for however it might be taken. "Is there someone bothering you in the barracks, hm?" Condescension colors each curl of his particular speech in a somewhat subtle manner that is less highlighted than that somehow genuine interest in whatever it took for Stefyr to approach him.

There are probably plenty of people for whom Ki'lian's show would do wonders, whether to render the water impressed or intimidated or anything in between. Stefyr is simply paying attention. His eyes follow the man but his expression doesn't change from an intense scrutiny of the whole of the story his body is telling in what it does and what it does not do within those movements. His expression turns to singularly unimpressed by the words being offered to him and he sighs exasperation. "Is that the level you're on?" Bully candidates. With a disgusted sound in his throat, the big blond turns his back on the man who he hoped would be a solution or at least a tool for his current conundrum; it's obviously more serious than simple "family" squabbles. It's not a feint when he starts to go, but go he will if he's not stopped, the better not to waste his time (or get himself booted from candidacy for throwing a punch).

"You misunderstand me, mate." Ki'lian doesn't follow after Stefyr. He maintains an air of arrogance that doesn't need to chase after anyone. If someone needs something, really desires something, and they know who this man is, they always return on their own. "If you had a squabble with one of your little friends, that hardly constitutes my intervention. You have plenty of saps for that." Those weyrlingmasters and whathaveyou. You know, those people. "Find me if you've something more- Well, more." He offers a lopsided, unbothered shrug, a hand risen to rub over the scruff of his neck- the same spot unfinished on Zyddagath's dry hide.

Stefyr snaps back around, in a move that's offensively swift to the logic of a man his size in motion. His face is set, expression grim as he slaps back words, "How about bad men with big knives." He doesn't yet move back toward the bronzerider, but his words carry just far enough and the young man does the dark rider the courtesy it at least waiting out a response with an unreadable expression on his otherwise humorless face.

The scratching pauses, that hand instead making a vague gesture away from himself before the fingers curl back to his palm and the arm rests at his side. "And what would such terrible men want with someone like you?" That is the real question he cares about. This, again, has the genuine interest laced into it, that humor and amusement that seeps from it like some fetid odor yet ultimately suggests a sense of earnesty from him. But, after a pause and a tilt of his head again towards the lad, he adds, "Did you forget you're housed in a giant rock infested by fire-breathing lizards whose human counterparts would leap at the chance to rescue you?" Unclear if Ki'lian's talking about the dragons or the firelizards, but regardless the point stands. As a candidate, only weyrlings are more sheltered than they.

"You're not entitled to that information if you can't do shit about it," Stefyr answers the man bluntly, his arms folding across his chest. For those who know him better than the man he's speaking with, this unwillingness to give information for free would be a burning brand blazing the message that this is for someone else. As it is, he's doing a remarkable job of seeming the part of the unmovable rock. "So could you?" One might wonder what made Stefyr think of Ki'lian when it comes to this particular problem to begin with; maybe his shady drop off point just made him seem the most likely type out of everyone he's met. "If you were properly motivated?" The fact that he is a candidate and might be a weyrling when eggs hatch and the natural defenses of their present location isn't lost on him, but not does it appear to be relevant to his concerns just now, which speaks loudly if someone is listening to the right silences.

"It makes it quite hard to give you an answer if I'm not privy to the question." No doubt lies in the manner of this man. No hesitation that might offer the excuse that he can't grant whatever it is that had brought Stefyr here. For all that Ki'lian is about himself, he is astute. He need not know Stefyr to read between the lines, to get an idea of why this means so much to him to take this chance when their previous exchange was not entirely cupcakes and rainbows. A long pause follows, those kohl-rimmed chilly eyes staring into Stefyr's intensely, seeing something that just starts to bring a grin to the edge of his lips. Curling just one side to draw lines in that roguish scruff. "This isn't for you, is it." Not a question. Not at all. That feeling of dread thickens, deepens, worsens. Fear. Goosebumps and the stark cold chill dragging up the spine to stand hair on end. The numbness of a dense, crawling, writhing fog and the intensely foreboding knowing that something lies within or beyond. Both the man and the dragon hunger for what he offers, that soft power, that control. Stefyr has won Zyddagath's attention too. That sharp-angled, treacherous face has turned slightly to look more directly down towards him, though no other part of him seems alive enough to follow suit. "Aye. Tell me, lad, what is it you wish? Or need you somewhere more private to speak your mind?" The bronzerider lifts that same hand, a gesture made towards the cliff face- in theory, a weyr that exists there.

STEFYR IS OWED CUPCAKES AND RAINBOWS, if for no other reason than Stefyr is normally adorable and likes both of those things. This Stefyr is anything but and probably wouldn't take poison cupcakes or putrefied rainbows from Ki'lian and his dragon. But he would apparently take other things. His usual gait is a saunters but now it's a lumber, maybe just a result of stiffening muscles due to the abrupt break in his run. It's not matched with any kind of aggressive pose or expression. In fact, the look he shoots toward the bronze is dismissive, "You are as scary as that piss-poor excuse for a prank dilapidated house that Risali and R'hyn set up in the woods," which from the sounds of it, be means not at all. Either he truly isn't bothere by the dread and chills or is too dense to understand he should be afraid or he's just presently too pissed at the world to give a single fallow fuck for the attention of the dragon. The man's attention, he will take. "I've given you all the pertinent details to tell me if you can do what I'm asking. It's someone in the Weyr, someone who might it might not end up with a lifemate in this clutch or the one after who's wanted by big men with sharp knives. Can you protect him so he doesn't have to run when they come for him?" Okay, so maybe the young man is offering a more clean cut picture of just what they're dealing for now, but it's easy to see why handing over this information from the start would have been a poor move and possibly still is.

A chuckle is the reply to that comparison to the haunted house, Ki'lian's black-wrapped hand risen to scratch idly at his earring'd ear. Zyddagath's lips curl slightly, though it isn't a snarl. A chuff of a sound passes through gnarled fang, one that is licked with a pitch that hardly sounds draconic. It, too, is some demonic-like form of laughter. A residual echo of the man that stands in front of him where the same thought passes between them, and the damn near identical response played upon expression- with species variances, of course. "We should have manners when asking for favors." The man in black comments cruelly amused still, not expecting an answer, but taking a step closer to Stefyr. With it, pressure, the threat of what and who he might be. There's still that question mark, isn't there? That unknown possibility. That assumption from what was briefly seen during a sort-of abduction and those ring-shaped bruises on an arm. "Tell me who it is, and it shall be done." As simple as that. With but a word, the Deal can be writ. The name signed in blood. It may or may not be he who takes care of big men with knives, but that's a component that need not be specified. Like a Dark genie, the poison is absolutely in the details. "It would be ideal if I knew who I was looking for, and what it is they want." A poor move? Of course it is. Dealing with the devil is never a clear-cut course of action, but it is one that will find results with just a little bit of misplaced trust, and a debt that will someday need to be repaid.

"Should we?" Stefyr feigns surprised with lifted brows, "I must have missed all your pleases and thank yous when you had Sam and I row you wherever the shell it was. I didn't realize we were remiss in our lack of tea service." He casts a glance about as if expecting a cart with refreshments to simply materialize. And it isn't any less cheek that has the young man leveling an equally false bewildered expression on the bronzerider and adding, "My apologies, sir." His eyes flick from man to dragon and back as if to wonder, 'What the shell,' for each in turn and both together. "As for all that, I guess you'll have to wait until I find out." Since he very genuinely does not know (and that earnest shrug is real). And now that he has a greater understanding (imperfect and so very far from whole), he turns to go, only to turn back. "If I'm going to find you again when I know more, I'm going to need a name. This was only chance," which means Stefyr really wasn't describing him right or to the right people, because who could mistake Zyddagath… Or his rider.

"I must have missed," Ki'lian mocks with that callous graveled drawl, "where it was I who came to you for a favor." This is a warning. A preface of what could be. A reminder that there was a reason Stefyr came to him, and it's not because this man plays within the rules. He is a serpent. A monster. Though he loathe the word, he feels it to be true in all those moments he's too sober to avoid self-reflection in the abyss of the mind he's trapped in. He's no less amused, no less the same predatorial too-calm that is so suffocating, so imposing. "You want help with him on the outside of Weyr business, I can make that my business. You want my resources, I can make that happen. But-" And by now he's stepped close enough to the younger man to be too close. To be within whispering distance but not whispering. He licks his back teeth in the scoff of a breath of the now less humored laugh he gives, glancing away before back at him again, unhurried, "Be a bit more aware of what you're playing with. No knot can save that mouth of yours from certain things." A glaring lack of specificity leads that threat to be entirely open from where it might come. From him. From the people he works with. Whichever. "Ki'lian. Just leave a message at the docks if you cannot find me." He says, dismissive, straightening and turning away to return to his dragon.

Stefyr endures Ki'lian's proximity and his subtle threats with good grace, which is to say silently and passively. He doesn't remind the man that carrying a boat and accompanying him on a sail wasn't nothing, even if it doesn't begin to enter the realm of what qualifies as favors. It doesn't keep him from looking down the bare inches that separate his 6'3" from the dark man's 6' even even at this too close distance. He studies that face. "Yes, sir," is what he finally settles on and if the sir is tinged with a rarely seen sardonic humor, that's just how these things go. He tips his head slightly toward the bronzerider, lowering his voice as one imparting a confidence, "The next thing I'm probably going to ask you is how to use a sword. Or a knife. Anything with teeth, really. So if you want to hit me for my insolence," ha ha ha, Stefyr's joke is probably only funny to Stefyr, "then I'll be glad to offer you the perfect opportunity." Not that that request is a for now thing, either, but something to look forward to. "I'm Stefyr," he gives his own for what he's gotten, but since his white knot makes perfectly obvious where to find him should the need ever arise, he omits the redundant words. His eyes flick briefly from man to beast and then he turns to resume his run down the beach, this time back the way he came.

"I have no desire to hit you, lad. But being uselessly brave will get you far or get you killed. Probably both, eventually." The oiling brush is retrieved in a sweep of an effort as he reaches the buckets again. One and then the other sleeve is readjusted, pushed back up past his elbows in the uncharacteristic wrinkles this momentous task unjustly puts upon his fine tunics. With his warnings granted and the subject of Deals out in the open with no finite agreement scrawled across the bottom of that unseen hellish contract, he's grown quickly bored. That brashness would be something easily dealt with elsewhere, but not here. Not at the Weyr. Not with that knot and all the eyes that stare at the ones who wear them. "When you have an actual request," Meaning names, actions, whatnot that he desires Ki'lian to pursue, "Try a bit harder, or find someone else. I'm sure there's other scallywags who'd love to cross a blade to your throat." A slight interruption in his words arises as he climbs up the great blackened forepaw of the corroded and corrupted beast, a short breath interposed inbetween comments. "For fun. Of course." The latter might be to nobody if the candidate has already run out of hearing range. As for the bronzerider, however, he returns to the arduous slathering of oil across hide that wraps corpselike over skeletal frame for what seems like eternity. Yet, despite this keeping him from where other beneficial business lies, there remains comfort in it. The shared feeling of relief. The damning need and desire and demand to care endlessly for He who is far more than any vessel. A faintly but deliciously positive feeling where so often there is either simply and absolutely nothing, or the gorish reminder of every mark upon his skin.

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