Addressing Ajral, Known as Senior Journeyman By Her Own Desire, Now Weyrling, From The Same, Now Dead

Xanadu Weyr - Candidate and Weyrling Barracks
Xanadu's barracks are a massive, L-shaped amalgamation of caverns and construction, squared on one end, rough-hewn and oblong on the other, with weyrlings and candidates separated from one another by a large communal area. Wood and stone floors meet in a clever spiral pattern that interlaces and spreads, creating harmony in a space meant for completion of chores, classes, and storage of both dragon supplies and bedding for humans. A singular wooden door leads into an office for the weyrlingstaff.

Windows stretch the length of the candidate barracks, a long, low-ceilinged room that opens off the training grounds. One wall is slightly curved, set against the outer wall of the hatching arena, with a locked door closing off a tunnel that leads onto the sands. Cots are set in two rows along the length of the room, each with its own small press at the foot for personal belongings. It's always warm here when there are eggs on the sands; candidates seldom need more than a light blanket, but a diminutive hearth is available for the warming of beverages or the occasional firelizard-surprise.

The weyrling half of the barracks have been burrowed back into stone. Close and dark when shutters to the outside world are drawn, the ample paths between dragon couches have been lit with dim strips of light. Smaller couches are obviously intended for the very young weyrlings, while the largest ones at the back are for those close to graduation. A second small hearth abuts a massive cavern opening that slopes gently down to the training grounds outside.

This is the aftermath of that moment; this is what happens when your dragon kicks you in the sternum and knocks you over, and is also kind of pinning you like she's ready for battle and wants to lovingly wrestle, and is also hungry, and insulting — did we mention insulting? It wasn't Navenath's first act, but her second, after being enthusiastically invading, then swearing at her and insulting her, then being happy about choking down the food —

What Ajral said during the hatching about being able to sleep turns out to be blissfully true. She drifts away only moments after Navenath settles down and finally falls asleep, though there's throbbing in her head, and pain in her chest, and a cough still lingering. She's patched up the superficial cuts from those claws, and they probably won't scar, but … anyway.

She coughs in her sleep, and it wakes Navenath, who had been sleeping at the far end of her section of their couch, but who now comes closer, closer, closeeeeer until she's in physical contact with Ajral, snuggled up as close as she can possibly be without being on top of her rider. Beds, humans need beds, and Navenath most certainly doesn't fit on the cot that Ajral has, but she can squish up close to it and just put her head up against her lifemate's back. Yes, this will do.

Her lifemate.


All hers. And she loves her, even if she isn't going to let Ajral know that all that much, which is why she had to wait to do the whole … cuddly thing until after the human half was asleep. But she's hurting a little, and Navenath knows that's her fault, but also knows it was an accident,a nd knows Aja knows it was an accident, and — gosh, but all this interacting with others stuff is trash.

Not as bad as the shithole called egg, especially when one doesn't fit in their dreary garbage shell pile, but Nav doesn't really know how to handle this bond any more than Ajral does, except apparently Ajral had classes and shit and Nav is just expected to figure it out her own damn self. Along with figuring out everything else on the planet, which, okay, it's A LOT.

A couple of mental skeletons, flashing colors blending between different shades of green and let's bring in some purples and a nice sky blue, waltz across Ajral's dreamscape as she sleeps. Apparently, Navenath's rider dreams of nothing in the time after Impression, though that might be the blow to the head talking. She made her dream before of sunglassed skeletons, and so now there are more of them, and they're in awesome fade-effect technicolor displays!

It doesn't even worsen Ajral's headache.

But eventually she opens her eyes, and finds Navenath asleep right there, and hums softly to herself as she reaches out to rub that snout. This isn't a moment she ever saw coming. She also never, ever saw herself on a green — she'd always wanted brown or blue, but Navenath was huge, so maybe that made up for it somewhat?

And she's so odd looking, but so beautiful in her way. Ajral can see how she might grow out of the scrawniness into something imposing and gorgeous —

« You bet your sweet ass, sugarlips, » murmurs Navenath while still mostly asleep,

— Ajral is not deluded into thinking her dragon is perfect. She is already aware of insecurities, and already aware of a wall around them; already aware of proudness and bravado hiding uncertainty and unexpected shyness from this loud and brazen voice. She is not going to push any of these things; the bond is too new and tenuous, even if it seems that Navenath loves her so profoundly that it's impossible to put a quantity to it.

But it is definitely something unexpected.

Nothing about Navenath is anything she ever saw coming, even if she pretended she'd seen Impression coming as anything more than a perpetual state of 50-50 odds that never changed in any direction. Navenath does not seem to believe in boundaries; Navenath's borrowed music (that's a song Ajral definitely has heard before but she can't figure out from where) and brilliant color and skeleton brigade simply pour over constantly, even when she's asleep. Most of the skeletons are sleeping, though a couple appear to be tending to something.

It is a lot. It is a lot of brightness and brilliance, and Navenath is a lot of emotions — the color is fading in the background, the bright purple skeleton becoming a faded grey that is fading out even more as the little green (who is not little, for she has more than one sibling smaller than she, at least one of the blues is smaller) falls into a deeper sleep. It's like she's given Ajral a view of a secret, before she does.

Ajral smiles again, and kisses between Navenath's eyes, and lets herself sleep once more.

And everything's fine until the morning.

Oh, the morning, the true sunrise morning, and Navenath has seen or heard or felt or something from indoors the hint of it and before Ajral even knows what's happening they're off and outside in the training grounds — though just barely — Navenath barreling ahead of her, mindvoice making gleeful knucklebones-against-metal-drum sounds as she leaps into a sunny spot and then flops unceremoniously over, stretching out her neck and staring right up into that dawning light.

Ajral winces.

"That hurts," she says, and presses her eyes shut. "That hurts, Nav, it's — " Yawn. "It's dawn. We should still be asleep."

« It's. Perfect. What is it? »

".. the sun? Rukbat?"

« RUKBAT is my new best friend! Don't worry though, A, I still like you and all that, but maybe let us have this new-best-friend moment? We can all be best friends, I promise. There's room. You could just come sit next to me here, hang out for a little bit, get comfy. Although I am kind of hungry — »

"Well, the food is inside, so," Ajral doesn't get to finish that sentence, why would she get to finish that sentence? It's almost as if Navenath hasn't registered that she even spoke: « So maybe if you don't want to sit down just yet you could get us breakfast first and then come sit, I mean, look at this thing!!! »

Ajral tries looking through her dragon's eyes for a split second, and although she understands that Navenath weirdly still has a strong memory of being trapped in her egg and not being a fan of it, what she does not understand is why retinal afterburn is so fantastic to her.

"… Navenath, we can both go inside and eat. You really are going to hurt your eyes. And you haven't even experienced noon yet. And I still have a head wound that I'd like to not exacerbate further, so please don't make me actually have to push you inside …"

« With a bruised sternum like that? Aw, lady, no, don't do that. That would hurt you. Fine, fine, I'll get up, but only 'cause you asked so nicely. WE ARE COMING BACK LATER. Checking out this 'noon' thing. Up and moving is good though. »

Which, Ajral worries, implies that she gets no more sleep this day.

Which turns out to be true.

Whoever said weyrlinghood was a full-time job had somehow not warned her enough: no one expected Navenath.

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