What Now?
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Xanadu Weyr - Forest

This broad path that leads from the main clearing into the forest has been designed in such a manner so as to be not only wide enough for wagons to travel through, but also providing ample space for dragons. The path appears only worn in the center though, as most of the traffic moving through this area is that of the two-legged kind. Flowers sprout up and speckle the lush grass with bright saffron and cheeky rose, creeping all the way up to the bases of the trees that 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.

The path winds its way leisurely through the trees, deeper into the forest and a number of less traveled paths branch away from it. Southwest leads to the forest's edge near the base of the tumbled rocks that mark the wilder areas of the forest and the mountains that rise behind Xanadu. West leads to the Firelizard Theater, northeastward the path leads to the feeding grounds while east leads to the meadow where it joins both the road that crosses the bridge over the river leading to the clearing and the the coastal road that leads out of Xanadu bypassing the beach and the Caspian Lake. Here there are secluded spots where one might picnic (see +view).


The morning dawns to fog, the low clouds cloaking the weyr and turning the forests into an eerie - or comforting - landscape. Having spent the night in their mother's cottage, Muir awakens early, just before the sunrise. Pushing up from his bed, he glances around to see if anyone else is awake, and then slips quietly out of bed. Pulling on his tunic and boots, the young boy soundlessly creeps outside, into the thick, damp air. Taking a deep breath, the ex-hold-heir runs fingers through his hair and walks to the large fellis tree in the middle of the clearing. Reaching out a hand, he rests it against the tree's bark and without much thought, begins to climb. Nimble and able, he finds the hand and footholds he's found his entire life, and within moments he's sitting on one of the lower branches, back against the trunk and eyes closed, taking a slow, deep breath.

It's not Marel beneath the covers of her bed, but a couple of well-placed pillows made to approximate a curled-up figure. Luckily, she doesn't snore, or it would have been a much more difficult subterfuge to achieve successfully. Still, unless she's gone and found herself another twin, it's definitely Marel who wanders her way back through the forest towards Thea's cottage, absently pulling pieces from the fresh bread roll in her hands, munching thoughtfully and with no real enthusiasm as she walks. She halts beneath the fellis tree without giving any indication of whether she's aware of Muir's presence, sighing softly as she turns to lean against its trunk and brush the last remaining crumbs of bread from her hands. "Can't sleep either?"

Muir sits up a little bit when his twin walks down the path, watching her approach silently. But when she seems to notice him there anyway, he doesn't seem surprised, swinging down to land beside her and reaching out for a stolen bit of that roll - unless she pushes his hand away. "No," he answers, glancing at her before he peers into the unyielding fog.

Marel relinquishes the last piece of roll without a fight, not wishing to get her hands covered in crumbs again by tugging it back. "…The way I see it," she starts, trying to sound practical about it, "is that Uncle Tharen did what he did for Mama. And for us. And if we argue or make a big fuss about it, isn't that… disrespecting his decision? He's trying to do something good, right?" Even if such a sacrifice doesn't sit well with her, for she can't quite keep a frown from forming.

Muir chews on the roll without saying thank you, and swallows, leaning back against the tree and popping his knuckles, pulling on each finger with his thumb. "I don't know," he says with a frown and a sigh. "He is, yeah, but how good can it be if he's not happy? But we weren't happy either. But neither was Mom. Now, I guess…three of us are happy instead of none of us being? That's better, right?" But he doesn't sound sure, looking at his ever more practical and logical sister. "I feel guilty."

"So do I," Marel murmurs, looking down at her feet. "Maybe making Mama happy will make him happy. You know, people feeling good when they do nice things for others. …Only this is… a really important thing he's done." She gestures uselessly out into the forest and fog, exhaling loudly. "But we didn't /ask/ him to. I don't think Mama would have either. We weren't /asked/, not really. Not about any of it. So… they're trying to make things better." Head tipped back against the trunk of the tree, she says more softly, "…We should try to be happy or there's no point to any of it."

Muir frowns, scowling and digging the toe of his boot into the ground. "No, we weren't asked about any of it," he says, his tone a little heated as his anger is riled. "And why didn't they? Just…put us on a ship and all of a sudden I'm heir and my whole life changed?" His toe finds a stone and he kicks it hard into the fog, leaving ripples of vapor behind. "And now Dad's gone, too, because of all this and we're back where we started only everything's…broken." Curling his hands into fists, he holds them tightly, back rigid against the tree.

"At least Thadan wanted you there. He didn't want me around." Not quite petulant, uttered only to make it clear that she's aware that her presence was superfluous. "Because they think we're just kids and we need to do as we're told," Marel murmurs. "But it's not like Dad is /gone/ gone. Just…" she shakes her head, lips twisting into a shallow grimace, "different. We have to make it not broken." Not that any brilliant ideas about how to do that follow after. "I don't want to stay with Daddy," she blurts out. "He's not… I don't want to think of him like that. I want it to be how it was and it can't be."

Muir snorts, "He didn't really want me there either. He'd live forever if he could," he mutters, tone bitter. Wiping his crummy fingers on his pants, he reaches out to briefly touch his sister's arm. He's not that great with words - not real ones, heartfelt ones - but he hopes the gesture conveys enough to his twin. That he was glad she was there. Then his hand drops and he shrugs, back thudding against the tree again. "He's different, yeah, and…I don't like him different," the boy admits with a frown, struggling to adjust to the changes in their father - the man he's idolized and emulated his entire life. "Can we?" he asks her, "make it not broken?" And then he shakes his head. "I don't want to either. It's…I don't like him when he's drunk," he whispers, soft and pained. "Do you want to stay with Mom, then?"

Lifting a hand to cover her brother's hand while it rests at her arm, Marel tips her head a little, meaning to rest it against his shoulder. "Does that make us bad?" she asks in a whisper, the question pitched out there into the fog, not truly meant to be answered by either of them. "I don't know if we're meant to be with him and make it not broken and hope we can make him better," she rambles, "but if he won't get better, I want to remember how it was, not how he is now and how it was horrible." She takes a deep breath and holds it, arms folding tightly around her ribcage. "I don't want to be a kid they can make decisions for. But… if we're here to make her happy, then shouldn't we stay with her? For a little bit. Maybe."

Muir slips his arm around his sister's shoulders without hesitation, his head resting over the top of hers. "No," he says, firm but quiet. "It doesn't make us bad. We…we didn't do all this." It's the grown-up's problem. "I don't think we can fix Dad," he says, his voice a little thick when he says it. Thoughtful for a moment, he finally sighs a little. "I think Mom needs us right now," he admits with a frown. "With uncle Tharen back at Coldstone, and Dad…not around, I think we should stay here. For a little bit. But…then maybe we can get our own room in the dorms? Or, uh, rooms…" They /are/ 14, as much as Muir enjoys his twin's company. That's just one more change he's not ready to face yet.

Marel loops one arm low around Muir's waist, nodding silent and reluctant agreement with their ability to do anything for their father. "Yeah," is all she can manage while she collects herself again, the single syllable rough around the edges. "…We can't stay here forever." Though maybe part of her, the tiny voice that doesn't really want to grow up, would like to. "Stay a while, then move to the dorms," she echoes. "We can share if you want? Unless it'd be weird." Rather, other people might think it to be weird. "You know… I'm here, right? Whatever's going on or whether we share or not."

Muir squeezes her shoulders and nods. "Share maybe to start? And then see?" Tilting his head, he looks down at his sister with a small smile. A genuine one, not the crooked or rakish one most others get. "I know, Mare," he says, using one of his many nicknames. "I'm here too, whatever or whenever. Even when everyone else's gone nuts." His toe finds another rock and he kicks it. "What're we going to do now?" he asks, soft spoken into the privacy of the fog.

"You never know. Some stunning girl might fall for you and there are some things that I think I'm just too young to see," Marel declares, trying to imitate the deadpan humour that so many adults readily employ. It's not a bad effort, but she can't help but grimace at the thought of some girl all over her brother. "Now…" she sighs out, the arm still wrapped around herself swinging back to her side. "/Right now/…" Being all that she has an answer for. "Do you want to come get some breakfast? There's not much out yet, but there's fresh bread and some pastries. I came back to see if you were awake."

Muir snort, his grin taking on a more crooked quality. "I wouldn't bring her back to our room, there's plenty of other good spots around here…" Which means he might already have some places picked out? He gives her shoulder another squeeze and then lets his arm fall, stretching a bit onto his toes and lifting his arms high above his head. "I'm starving." No surprise. "Breakfast first, but then what?" he asks, showing a rare moment of forward thinking. And concern, as he starts to walk.

Marel falls into step beside him, determined not to drag her feet or walk slowly and let her mood literally weigh her down. "Then we tell Mama we're staying with her for a while and hope it cheers her up," she supposes, even the more immediate future beyond that uncertain and somewhat daunting. "Come on. If we hurry, we can get breakfast before people start asking us where we've been or what it's like to be back and all that." And so she quickens her step, hoping to get there before there's a danger of being asked a hundred and one questions.


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