The Right Thing

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.

Despite having spent most of her life at home and under her parents’ roof, Elayne has done her very best not to be needy or contact home too often or ask for anything at all since Ebeny had her reassigned to a different Journeyman and different posting. This hasn’t changed since being Searched, the news sent in a letter delivered by one of the firelizards her mother gave her upon her departure to try and soften any sense of betrayal. Weeks have passed since then, and only now has she reached out to her father and not to Ebeny. She’s built a small fire out on the beach and settled herself beside it as the afternoon light begins to fade and she awaits his arrival at the time they agreed on.

E’dre has ever been the parent who has taken a step back, who has let Ebeny lead, more layered reasons behind his choices than his children could ever know. The daughter who was a gift to him and a former weyrmate, was ever Ebeny’s to shape and teach. Guilt laced E’dre’s decisions when arrogance didn’t - his contribution to his children’s upbringing always offered in well-groomed appearances, well-tailored clothes, well attuned understandings of the world around them. Always deferring to his wife’s wills and choices, E’dre’s consistently been a step back. Until Elanye reached out to him - him and not Ebeny. Wroyth bursts from Between over Xanadu, his anger and gnarled roots a tangle of demand to any dragons who dare to talk to him. E’dre finds himself waiting on the beach with a hand on Wroyth’s shoulder.

The sight of Wroyth is one that Elayne could not possibly miss, and she’s on her feet and running as soon as she’s sure of where he will land and that she won’t be in the way of it, barrelling straight into her father with a hand reached out for Wroyth too. She’s not much shorter than E’dre now, her time at Xanadu having not curtailed her growth spurts, height somehow more than when they last saw each other. The arm around her father clings tightly, her face burrowing against his shoulder in an effort to conceal the rise of tears that threaten to betray her. “I missed you,” is smothered against his jacket, her voice still steady despite any tears that might escape.

“You’ve gotten taller,” E’dre’s voice is rough, emotion-lacing his tone as he clears his throat and takes a step back from his daughter. His hands rest on her shoulders as he takes in the sight of her, Wroyth’s rumble behind him a greeting. “He reminds you that he has missed you as well,” he tells his daughter, chin jerking towards the brown whose head has angled itself to allow an eye to settle on Elayne. “And I am an idiot, of course, for not visiting sooner.” He grins at his daughter, the crows-feet at his eyes enhancing in his mirth. “And how is it, my daughter, being a candidate? I trust you haven’t followed in my footsteps and instead behave as your mother would’ve. I never was one for the rules.” He keeps his hands on her shoulders, his gaze kind.

Elayne presses her hand against Wroyth’s jaw, lifting her head to peek out at him from over her father’s shoulder once she’s let the brownrider study her for a few moments. “I missed you both. I love you both.” When she blinks, tears do slip free now, yet it’s difficult to tell whether they are of happiness or some deeper sadness. “The people here are… strange. Some of them. It’s difficult to anticipate what they want from you and why. Even the eggs… they feel dark. I’m not unhappy. It’s just… not home.” She glances down at her feet and then back up again, bringing a smile from somewhere. “I have another firelizard now. A blue. And I have a goat.” Yes, a goat. “She’s one of that tiny breed. I named her Heart.” Tilting her head, she asks, “How are my sisters? And Beau?”

E’dre tuts as he brushes a thumb across her cheek to wipe a tear from it, “It’s hard to move,” he acknowledges, rueful smirk following suit. “It’s hard to fit in - to find yourself, in a new place, with new people.” Wroyth rumbles, a snort following, as he moves his muzzle close enough to nudge at Elayne. “Wroyth is dark, Laurieth is dark, is it not surprising that the dark ones call to you?” E’dre asks, leveling a droll look at Wroyth, “Not that I’m encouraging that for you.” Wroyth huffs, a heated wave of breath blowing at their hair as E’dre’s hand remains on Elayne’s shoulder. He tugs his daughter closer, their height not that different any longer, so that he has to keep his arm just below her shoulders for comfort. “Another firelizard? I’ve lost track of how many keep ending up at my feet,” he laughs, then pauses, blinking and lifting a brow. “Why do you have a goat? Are you raising it for your future dragon?” He pauses at the mention of her siblings and smiles at her, “They are growing and learning.” He seems a little uncomfortable, “I don’t really know what they’re up to these days.” He drops his voice and angles her away from Wroyth, as if he could keep the secret from his brown, “Don’t tell your mother I said that.”

“No!” That’s for the prospect of the goat ending up as a meal for a potential dragon. “I would never let someone eat her!” While Elayne leans against Wroyth for a moment, she aims a mock shove at E’dre’s shoulder. “How could you think that?” It may be that this has occurred to everyone except his daughter. “I’d rather a dragon like Laurieth and Wroyth choose me than someone silly or ridiculous. I know they care. That’s all I’ve ever needed to know. They love us. It doesn’t matter how they show it.” She presses her forehead against brown hide before returning to the comfort of her father’s arm around her, somewhat unwilling to let go of him now he’s here. “You don’t need to know everything,” she murmurs. “You gave us everything. Beau may be too young to understand it yet, but I’m not. You’ve given us everything we’ll ever need to let us make our own choices.”

“Well how should I know?” E’dre defends, blinking at his daughter with raised brows. “I’d never consider a meat animal a pet!” Wroyth’s release of breath is a hiss of amusement as he moves to curve his tail proprietarily around E’dre and Elayne both. E’dre’s laugh bursts from him as he’s shoved back against Wroyth and he hefts his hands upward. “Don’t harm me for not knowing she’s special!” He reaches forward to grasp Elayne’s hand, his eyes serious. “There is nothing wrong with a silly dragon, or one you deem ridiculous. It takes all types in this world, Elayne. When a dragon chooses you, that’s it. You’ll see,” he angles his face up to glare at Wroyth. “This one never approved of me, of my frills, of my joy in the cloth and dressmaking. But… we learned about each other,” he asserts, “and found a balance.” He looks uncomfortable at Elayne’s declarations and clears his throat more than once as he shrugs his shoulders and rubs at his neck. “Did I?” he asks, clearly uncomfortable, “I’m pretty sure it was all your mother.”

“Are you saying that it was only Mama who kept us in a nice home, protected, with a good education, beautiful clothes and a nanny to be with us when you couldn’t?” Elayne arches a brow, levelling a dubious stare at her father. “I’ve never had to worry about anything. That wasn’t just Mama.” It’s for the idea of a dragon, or the idea of no dragon, that her shoulders shift uneasily. “There’s no saying that I’ll Impress. It may have happened for you and Mama, but maybe none of them will want me, Searched or not.” She glances away and takes a deep breath before insisting, “If none of them see me as what they need, I want to come home. I want Mama to make me her apprentice again.” For just a moment, shame casts a shadow across her features, but still she asks, “You can ask her to do that, can’t you? You can tell her it’s the right thing?”

E’dre’s smile is a flash on his face as he looks at his daughter with shake of his head. “Elayne, you look too much like your mother when you give me that brow,” he laughs and hugs her to him again, his lips moving to press against her hair. “I know who the stronger parent has always been so you hush. You know that your mother’s always done better at not getting lost in her craft than I ever have.” Though with her younger siblings his attentiveness has only grown in the passing of years, his focus on his craft less and less each cycle. “Just because none may want you on these Sands does not rule out the fact you were Searched and there is something special inside your heart.” Wroyth croons, a rare sound from him, as he nudges his head closer to Elayne, seeking her hand to itch at his favorite spots. E’dre considers Elayne’s face and reaches for her hand to squeeze again. “I can do that,” he tells her, “If that’s what it comes down to.”

“It doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything of who I am from you,” Elayne says gently, turning from E’dre only so that she can lift both hands to do as Wroyth wishes, though she ends up hugging him to her, holding on tight with her face pressed against him for a few moments that don’t require her to seem more grown-up or project the mature persona she’s adopted in the world of her craft. When she wrenches herself free and makes herself resist the temptation to just tuck herself against Wroyth and hide, she reaches for E’dre’s hand again and doesn’t let go. “Thank you. I know…” No matter how she tries, a trace of anger remains, her features twisting for a split-second. “I know she must have meant well. I just don’t understand who better to learn from than her, if I want to be like her.” She gives a tug on her father’s hand and begins to step forward, “Come and have something to eat? The food’s good.” For Wroyth, she promises, “We won’t be long.” She pulls E’dre after her, anyhow, determined that they should not fly away immediately.

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