Like... Royalty???

Xanadu Weyr – Meadow


A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of buildings, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves.

Stables and a smithy are settled on their own plots, while trees border the western edge of the meadow, and a faint outline of a fence can be seen to the north.

It's a rather breezy night, dark, moonless. Difficult to see without the aid of a light. Somehow, Aludra has managed to find her way back from the stables without the aid of said illumination, but not without making a few wrong turns. Now, at least, she seems to be on the right path, heading back to the clearing. But, it is a pleasant enough night, and she stops, pausing to look upwards. She /wants/ to see stars, but there aren't any—-at least none she can see from her vantage point. Disappointed, she steps off the path, settling down on the grass to take a breather. At least the grass is soft, and she's away from crowds.

Who needs light when you're on a dragon? Especially one the size of Azaeth. At least the meadow is a pretty safe landing area, and there aren't many people around this time of night. Not that the pair really wanted to smoosh someone anyways. The darkness though makes Azaeth look scarier than usual (which is pretty scary as it is). The two are headed home for the night, but not before a bit of a walk around. A wingleader's work was never done, right? There were always rounds to be made. And after he hops down K'ael nearly trips over Aludra. "Oops, Excuse me."

Having no desire to be crushed by a scary dragon, Aludra scrambles backward, sideways, anyway to escape. As it is, when the rider nearly trips over her, she gives a soft "eep" and scrambles to her knees. "It's all right," she gasps. "I probably shouldn't have been where I was." At least she's not screaming or complaining or any of a dozen different reactions she /could/ have had. "Sorry to get in the way." She climbs to her feet, brushing off her clothes. "Amazingly enough, I didn't hear anything until you were practically on top of me." She grins, then holds out her hand. "Aludra," she says, pronouncing it ah-loo-drah.

Thea is out this evening, walking too, but perhaps for a different reason than to look at the stars. In her arms she carries a fussy bundle, jiggling it gently up and down and murmuring to it as she goes. Her eyes are carefully on the ground in front of her, but her steps are also guided by a softly humming brown firelizard, green eyes aglow in the darkness as he glides low to the ground in front of her. It's the sound of dragon wings that draws her eyes up momentarily, her steps continuing in that direction until she hears K'ael's voice and the girl’s reply. "Evening K'ael… and Aludra?" She steps up to the pair, head cocked curiously, "I don't think we've met." In spite of the squalling babe, her voice is easy, "I'm Thea, Seryth's."

K'ael blinks a bit at Aludra as she scrambles a bit. He attempts to give her a hand up, but she seems alright on her own. "Er, no no, we should have been more careful. You didn't have to get up." K'ael gives her a dimply smile and takes her hand gently to bring it to his lips, gently kissing the back. "K'ael. This big lug is Azaeth. It's a pleasure, Aludra." There's a grin and a nod to the weyrwoman. "Hello, Thea. One of yours there I take it?"

A bit taken aback by the kiss on her hand, Aludra stands there with a surprised expression on her face. Rather, she stares at the rider, and tries not to look silly, but it may be too late for that. "Um, yes … a pleasure to meet you both. K'ael. Azaeth." She looks to the bronze, her eyes widening at the size of him. "They're so /big/," she whispers softly, then clears her throat. The sound of another voice draws her attention, and she turns to see Thea and her babe. "M'am. No, we haven't met, but I know who you are," Aludra says politely. Amazingly enough, unless K'ael has dropped her hand, Aludra hasn't removed it from his grasp.

The firelizard curls up beside one of Thea's feet as she stops. One of The weyrwoman's hands patpats the babe's back as she nods with a serene smile to K'ael and turns the dark-haired child in her arms to face the pair. Oh look at that screwed-up, unhappy and beet-red baby-face with eyes squinched shut and mouth twisted! At the moment it's a face only a mother would love, right? "This is Muireadhach- Muir." Her vocalization of the name is soft with an accent not from Xanadu and obviously foreign to her as well. "His sister is asleep, thankfully." There's naught but a knowing grin at K'ael's gallantry as ice green eyes sparkle at Aludra, teasingly. "Do you now? I must be infamous then."

K'ael just smiles at Aludra, silly-looking or not. He chuckles a bit. "Well, Azaeth is very big, true. He's harmless though. Unless you're another dragon during a chase." K'ael pauses a bit then gently lets go of Aludra's hand. He grins and moves over to look at the baby. "Aw. Hey there little guy." K'ael waves his sausage fingers at the baby. "Nice to meet you Muir."

"Oh, no, M'am…not infamous. It's just that I was a candidate, and had to learn all the Weyrleaders' names," Aludra explains, her voice a bit on the uncertain side. "We never actually met, not formally, I mean." A little more confidence now. "Muir," she repeats, as if she's making a note to remember the baby's name. "He looks like a strong fellow." She smiles at the screwed up face, but resists the urge to make googly faces or silly noises to cheer him up. Instead, she looks to K'ael, realizing she'd left her hand in his. "Oh." A blush creeps up her cheeks, so perhaps it's a good thing it's nighttime. Not so easily noticed, right? "I don't think I'll ever be a dragon in a chase, so I guess I'm pretty safe then. I'm not afraid of dragons, they just seem so much bigger when you're right next to them." She smiles, watching K'ael play with the baby. "He is a cute little one."

Thea coughs back a laugh at K'ael's Flight comment, then murmurs, "It's too dark to see, but he's got D'had's smirk." Muir's squalling quiets, then fades off the sound of a new voice and he makes an uncoordinated grab at whatever's moving there, unbeknownst to him they are K'ael's fingers. Dryly, "Yeah, I remember the history lessons all too well." She half-winks at Aludra, "I was teasing ya." Motherly pride lights her smile as she glances down at Muir, "Well, thank you. He takes after his daddy, this one. Strong." A light laugh colors her next words as Aludra retrieves her hand from the bronzer's, "At least safe from Azaeth."

K'ael is not above making googly eyes at the baby! K'ael loves babies though. Or anything cute really. Small and cute. He does spare Aludra a smile though. He can't see the blush, but he could still feel her fingers touching his. He chuckles a bit. "I guess you get desensitized after a while. You new around here? Or just not used to seeing the dragons?" K'ael is okay with his fingers being grabbed. There were no teeth to bite him at least! "Heh. He'll be like royalty around here."

Aludra seems equally taken with the child, though she doesn't make a move to touch him. "Strong, yes," she comments, watching Muir grab K'ael's fingers. "And very alert. That's always good to find in a babe—-at least that's what my nanny used to say." Then, as if she might be revealing too much, she stops talking, eyes going to Azaeth. After a few moments of silence, she finally says, "I've been here a few months, yes, but I'm not really around the dragons much. I've met a few, though. Just when you work with runners, dragons seem so much bigger." She pauses, then adds, "He's a handsome bronze." Then, her head tilts to the side. "Why will Muir be like royalty here?" she asks.

Muir hiccups, his waving fingers curling reflexively 'round one of K'ael's fingers and then pulling them towards him, his dark eyes going cross-eyed in his attempt to discern what he's gotten ahold of. No teeth, but gums aplenty should he manage to get it into his mouth. Thea quirks a glance of non-comprehension at K'ael, "Like royalty? How's that?" Apparently being the most junior of the juniors has her feelings of self-importance null. Her attention shifts towards the young woman with interest, "What'd you do before being Searched, Aludra?"

K'ael nods to Aludra. "Yes. That's very good. You have kids of your own?" The bronzer has a habit of being overly blunt with… everything. He chuckles. "Well, you don't get much scarier than Azaeth. So, you should be alright with the rest of the dragons around, right?" K'ael is alright with being gnawed on, but he's not sure his fingers are clean, so he takes his hand back slowly. "Son of D'had and Thea. That's pretty much royalty at Xanadu. Right, Aludra?"

Amused at the baby's discovery of K'ael's fingers, Aludra smiles. "M'am?—-oh, I was … well, I didn't really do much of anything except riding, taking dancing and deportment lessons. I worked a lot with runners, but not officially. I wasn't with the Beastcraft, or anything." She doesn't look at either bronzerider or goldrider for a few minutes. "I was expected to marry advantageously, but thankfully, I was Searched first. So, no kids." She listens to K'ael, nodding. "He's pretty scary looking, but I'm not afraid of dragons like my cousins. They squealed and ran when the Search dragons came to Keroon." A laugh, then, "Hm… well, yes, I suppose you're right." Uncertainty there.

Muir clings tighter as that finger withdraws; for a moment it's a gentle tug of war as the lad doesn't give up easily. His lower lip pokes out as he loses the finger, but he doesn't start wailing again, something catches his attention and his small head turns instead to stare at Azaeth's luminous eye. Thea shudders visibly at the mention of runners, her gaze keen upon that lack of eye contact Aludra exhibits, a flash of emotion crosses her face at the mention of marriage. "Keroon, huh? I haven't gotten to visit there yet. Maybe you could show me around sometime?" Her gaze slides back to K'ael, uncertainty writ upon her features and she drawls with no small amusement, "Imagine that. A sea-trader and a mountain gal spawning royalty. What magic made that happen?" Her grin is good-natured at the bronzer.

K'ael chuckles. "There's still time to marry advantageously, right? Though marriage is overrated, I say. We'll just make sure you impress next round." He winks at Aludra, making sure she sees him. "That's good though, that you're not afraid of them. They're just big. But they're here to help us." Azaeth peers back at the baby. Or it seems like he is at least. "It helps that you're both important people at the weyr? And it was the magic of impression, I believe." He pokes at the recently-made-mother. There's no mention of his own brood of course. He doesn't want to scare anyone away. Then he turns back to Aludra. "I'll take you for a ride if you show me around Keroon?"

Aludra doesn't notice Thea's scrutiny, instead she's looking at Muir, still amused at the small tug-of-war between baby and bronzer. "He is strong," she comments with admiration, it's just not certain which "he" she's talking about. Nor does she notice the shudder from Thea at the mention of runners. "Keroon, yes. It's a pretty place. Miles and miles of nothing but grasslands. It's like an ocean, only green—-or brown in the fall and winter. The wind makes the grass look just like waves." There's a certain wistfulness in her tone. "I wouldn't mind showing you around, no." And then K'ael's talking to her. She looks up at the bronzerider, smiling. "I've no desire to marry, advantageously or not." Chin up, stubborn expression. "As for Impressing… well, only the dragons know how that works. So far, they've not been interested in me." She's not complaining, just stating facts. "That actually sounds like a good bargain," Aludra says regarding his request to be shown around Keroon. "Sounds like a plan." She holds her hand out for a shake.

Thea comments quietly to K'ael, "Marriage is certainly overrated if it's pushed upon a person." Again an expression of almost fierce distaste flits across her face, an expression not directed at K'ael, but rather at something she is remembering. Laughingly, "Well, y'all are important people here at the Weyr too, but I can't argue with you about the magic of Impression." She tilts a loving look down at Muir, taking Aludra's comment to mean the babe, who is still staring at Azaeth's eye. After all, it doesn't take much strength to win tug-of-war with a baby. "For a month old, I guess he is." Her voice is unsure; she's in a learning curve here with motherhood new to her. "She'll have to ride on Seryth if she showed me around Keroon," the junior tells K'ael with a grin that falters as her eyes slide back towards Aludra, "Cos I don't ride runners." If the girl didn't see the shudder, there's no mistaking the weyrwoman's tone: extreme reluctance bordering on fear. A chuckle warms her voice, "Looks like you're a popular guide tonight." With a goldrider and bronzerider both competing to take her riding, even.

K'ael is strong, though she's probably talking about the baby. No one would tell K'ael he's strong, that would only be rolled up into his big bronzer ego. "I think I've been a couple of times, though not for any extended stay." He smiles to her. "I'd like a tour. And Azaeth loves to give rides." He takes her hand and gives her a gentle shake. "Heh, well I'm alright with riding a runner, but I'm very out of practice. I haven't ridden one in about ten turns now." Then he makes puppy eyes at Thea. "Can I hold him?" It's a long shot, but he can't help asking.

It's a position Aludra doesn't often find herself, being in demand. "I'm flattered," is all she says about that, "and I'll be glad to act as guide for either of you. Or both of you." She glances from one to the other of them, smiling almost shyly. "Going dragon-back would be faster, for certain. The plains are huge, and crossing them by runner can take days." She did hear that tone, and takes it into consideration. "I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who isn't familiar with the prairies and the watering holes. If you get off the trails, you can get lost in all that tall grass. I've gone on more than one rescue mission." She gives K'ael's hand a firm shake. "Then it's a done deal. I'm usually at the stables when I'm not helping in the kitchens. I haven't found a quiet place to hide and play the gittern, yet." A pause. "Riding is riding. Even if it's been a while, your muscles will remember what to do." Aw, it's so cute, the big bronzerider wanting to hold the baby. Aludra smiles and watches.

Thea isn't snickering at the byplay between K'ael and Aludra, not at all. But her eyes are dancing as the man turns on the charm for the girl. "Hmm?" Blinking back to the topic at hand she's readily handing the babe over, she quips, "Sure and if he needs to eat, can you feed him for me too?" Obviously not serious about that last. "Safer too," she nods firmly at Aludra regarding runner riding before she nods, "I've read the plains are vast, yeah." When K'ael does take Muir, and her hands are free, she extends one of them to the girl, "A belated welcome to Xanadu Weyr, then. And if it's a quiet place you want to play the- gittern? -there's a nice clearing in the forest with a huge fellis tree and a tree swing under it by my old weyr. You're welcome to go there, if you need to. No one goes there anymore."

K'ael nods to Aludra. "Well, dragonback would certainly be the way to go then. We can maybe find a couple of runners when we get there if you want to go riding. I would like to go, but I think Azaeth might get a little mad at me. We'd have to wait until he was sleeping." The dragon snorts in response to this. He takes the baby carefully. He's got a lot of experience with the little ones. "Hey there little man. Heh, I can feed him if you got some formula."

"Thank you, M'am," Aludra says, taking the hand offered. "That sounds very nice. I'm not all that good with the instrument, so I don't like to play in front of people." She pauses. "A gittern's like a guitar, only smaller. Very nice when played correctly." An indication that she doesn't play nicely? Perhaps. "Begging your pardon, M'am, but I can't help noticing your dislike of runners. Did you have an accident riding one? I don't mean to pry, I'm just curious, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to." And then K'ael's talking to her again. "Runners are somewhat afraid of dragons, so it might be best if Azaeth was out of sight when we mounted the horses. They're skittish creatures, and I'd not want to see you thrown. That can be extremely painful. But, yes, we could get runners when we're there. I … well, I know the stablehands. They'd give us good mounts."

Although Thea is well aware that K'ael has little ones of her own, she can't help but be watchful as the bronzerider handles her firstborn. New mother and all that. She snorts gently at the mention of formula, dryly announcing, "I do things the old-fashioned way." She smirks as she curls fingers 'round Aludra's hand and shakes it warmly, firmly then releases it, her head tilting as she regards the girl with a twinkle, "Is it now? It sounds like fun to play." No mention of how she plays the instrument, either. Her lips twist slightly at the question, her head shakes but she answers readily enough, "No accident, thanks to Rog- R'owan. He stopped the runaway. But aside from trying to ride an animal that can't talk to me, and me to it-" Her eyes darken briefly and her quiet voice is rough with sudden emotion, "One of them went berserk in the stables and almost killed a… friend."

K'ael laughs. "I've been thrown before. It's not fun. Even if it was into water. Anyways we could make a whole day of it, if you'd like. If there are enough places to show me, I'm not sure. At least half a day. I can bring food." K'ael rocks the baby a bit meanwhile. He chuckles to Thea. "Well, the old way is the best way. I'll hold him while you feed?" Then he blinks at the weyrwoman. "Shards. When was this?"

"My mother didn't have enough milk, so I had a wet nurse," Aludra says regarding the "old fashioned" way. "She ended up being my nanny, and always said the old fashioned way was best when it came to babies. It provides a bonding between mother and child." Not that she has any children of her own, mind you. As for the runners. "They can be unpredictable, and some are just plain not meant for the saddle. The wilder ones, well, I like to see them running free, but that's not always possible. Or safe. You just have to hope the one you get has been gentled and not broken." She pauses. "I'm sorry about your friend." K'ael's suggestion for a day is met with a smile. "There're plenty of lovely places to show people," Aludra says. "Forests, plains—-Keroon's got both. And the river. It's really a lovely place. You can lie in the grass and feel like you're totally alone. No one can see you, the grass is so high." She quiets to allow the Weyrwoman to speak, if she chooses.

Thea's laugh rings out into the windy night at K'ael's audacity. "Oh, I don't think so. But thanks for the offer." Muir is content, his chin resting on the bronzer's shoulder with nary a sound but a soft burp or two as the babe blinks off into the darkness with heavy lids. The junior sobers, sharing, "It was nearly three turns ago. The runner startled and broke though the stall door my friend was leaning on, the hinge knocked him on the head as the door flew open. He lost some of his memory." She clears her throat and strives for humor, a hand waves in the general direction of the stables, "That big black stallion in there? Seryth -still- wants him for dinner." She listens to the talk about Keroon, lips curving in an appreciative smile at Aludra's description. "Sounds lovely." And Muir, meanwhile has fallen asleep, so Thea holds out her arms for him, "I should be getting him back. His daddy will be wondering what's taking me so long to calm him."

K'ael nods to Aludra. "Ah. Wet nurses… that's kind of weird to me." He wrinkles his nose. "I'm not sure why, heh. I mean, you turned out fine, right?" Then he nods about the runners. "We had a couple of runners on the farm that were pretty good. I just sort of… startled it running too close to the river." He coughs. "I blame the twins." His brothers, he means. The bronzer hands the baby back to his mother carefully. "Let me know next time you're free. My weyr is right over there. Tall grass… gives lots of privacy." He wraggles his eyebrows. Then there's a nod to Thea. "Runners are good eats for dragons. Though usually we don't encourage it."

"That's terrible," Aludra commiserates. "I know the stallion, yes. You have to be careful with them. If there're mares in season anywhere nearby, they're hard to handle. They spook easily, even at the best of times." She shakes her head. "I'm sorry that happened, but please don't let Seryth eat him. He's very good for breeding, excellent bloodlines. Be a shame to lose him." She seems serious, and only when K'ael says the practice of feeding runners to dragons is discouraged does she relax somewhat. Her eyes twinkle at the story of K'ael's mishap. "Well, there isn't much water on the plains, though there are springs and such. They're nice places for picnics and even swimming. The grass grows tall, and we used to play hide and seek in it. No one ever found me, because I knew the best places to hide." She seems a lot younger than her seventeen years. "I like to think I turned out all right, but I'm slightly biased, you see." She glances to where the bronzerider points. "I'm sure I can find it. I have free time most afternoons."

Thea's gaze flickers between the other two, "Gotta do what you gotta do, but my mom always said nature's way was best, even if it's not the only way." This is firmly said by the girl from the hold that did -everything- the old fashioned way. She cough-snickers at K'ael, "Brothers are good for things like that. We didn't have runners at Coldstone, but Tharen, he'd toss chickens on my head from the loft." She smirks as she gathers Muir back from K'ael, adding, "Seryth's all perked up and hopeful back there in her wallow wondering why I'm mentioning runners and her eating them in the same sentence. After eating Cenlia's runaway, she's developed a taste for them." She settles Muir tenderly in the crook of her elbow, one hand cupping his head. "Oh, I won't," she promises Aludra. "R'owan and Rhasmir would be mortified if she did." Not to mention the beastmaster.

K'ael nods to Aludra. "We didn't really have dragons flying about, so there wasn't much around to spook the runners. We just had two mares for leading the cart to Telgar usually." He grins. "I like picnics and swimming." If she seems younger than seventeen then K'ael definitely seems younger than his 26 turns. He grins and nods. "I sometimes have things to do, being a wingleader and all." He taps his chin. "I don't think Azaeth has ever had a runner. I'm not sure if he'd like them or not."

It's getting about that time, and Aludra knows when she's in need of rest. She stifles a yawn, then looks sheepishly toward the others. "I'm afraid I need to hit the hot springs, and then go to bed. It's been a long day and I'm just about done in." She gives Thea a smile, saying, "Please let me know when you'd like to visit Keroon. I think you'd really like it." She doesn't hold out her hand, but does say, "Well met, M'am. I hope you have a pleasant night, now that the little one is asleep." Then, to K'ael, she grins. "I promise the runners won't startle and toss you. They're all very well trained. Just let me know when you'd like to go. It's still warm enough for swimming in Keroon, but not for much longer. I'll look for you some afternoon, at the very least." With that, she turns toward the caverns. "I hate to leave good company, but I really must get some rest. I've got four youngsters who want to learn how to ride runners to see tomrrow. Early. So, well met and good night." She turns up the path and soon is out of sight in the darkness.

When Thea turns to head back the way she came, the brown firelizard at her feet stirs, launching to glide close to the ground ahead of her, ever watchful of her safety, guarding her from a misstep in the dark. "Nice work, Shep," the weyrwoman praises. Over her shoulder she suggests to K'ael, "Have Azaeth ask Seryth what they taste like?" Perhaps a better alternative to trying one himself. She nods with enthusiasm at Aludra's offer, a wide smile for the girl, the pale green of her eyes alight with the idea of a trip away, "When the babies are a little older and I can leave them for a half day, I'll snag you on my day off, how's that? D'had can't always get away when I can." She turns back, heading off as her chuckle is blown back towards them on the night breeze, "And he doesn't know Keroon. Good night you two."

K'ael grins to Aludra. "I'd follow you to the hot springs, but we've just met. Just come poking around for me. I'm usually around at least a bit in the afternoon." There's a shrug to Thea. "I don't want him getting curious. It's better he sticks to what he knows." He gives Aludra a wave as she heads off, then grins to Thea. "She's cute. Congrats, by the way. I should be getting home though. I'm behind on my workout schedule."

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