Kilaueth's and Isterreth's Clutching

Xanadu Weyr - Hatching Sands

The large circular "stage" is surrounded on one half by a towering wall, thin slit windows high overhead letting in some light without truly endangering the objects on the sands, though plenty of lights are spaced at human-level all the way around. The other half is ringed by the dark blue seats of the observation level, rising upwards towards the back wall. The circle itself is filled with a mix of red and white sands, deep enough to cover the largest of dragon eggs with ease. To one side, a small door is visible, hidden away behind a platform meant to provide a place for the clutch parent's lifemates to stand during the on goings.

Thankfully, its not the middle of the night when the first disturbance seems to echo through the Weyr, however despite the early morning hour, the winter month means its still quite dim out, Rukbat not yet peeking over the horizon, when there's a low rumble from the queen's ledges, and the Senior Gold is departing from her ledge with the destination quite obvious. Certainly not one to hide her antics, Kilaueth's mind has touched those of the Weyr, the lava flow announcing exactly what is coming to pass, and its with a bugle that she's settling herself onto the sands, regarding them with a long look, waiting.

Isterreth has been a constant sight first thing in the morning since their reassignment to Xanadu, so perhaps it is little surprise that he arrives soon after Kilaueth's call goes out. While the gold pays attention to the sands he settles near the entrance, eyeing the perimeter cautiously.

Seryth lies curled around her clutch, not asleep by any means but certainly relaxed as Kilaueth enters. Certainly used to sharing the sands with one queen or another and not territorial by nature, she greets the senior gold with a quiet (for a dragon) rumble and remains put so as to give her space. Thea is above, seeking the relative cool the galleries has to offer, seated at the small table, her ever-present paperwork spread out before her. Looking rather sleepy, although she's been here some time now having been awakened by her dragon, she's mid-flip with a page in a ledger of some sort when that rumble echoes through the Weyr. She's watching the door expectantly as Kilaueth enters, so the greeting from Seryth is likely partly from her as well.

As Isterreth settles, Kilaueth snorts at him, tail flicking quickly from side to side, tossing a long questioning look at the younger gold before seeming to decide that this will simply have to do. As the bronze continues to survey, however, there's an exasperated sigh, and then the gold settles for digging a trench herself, shifting the red and white sand before pausing again, turning to peer at the door. The door through which Niva does eventually come, looking rather awake given the early hour, slipping around the edge of the Arena to nod encouragingly at her lifemate.

High above the sands, the blue Siyamath flies down to perch along the rim, above the arena. Meanwhile down below in the viewing gallery Siya's normally nervous and obsessive compuslive rider R'soe has arrived, yawning and blinking and looking out onto the sands with bleary eyes.

It's Niva's arrival that stops Isterreth in his musings, and he takes a quick step towards her before deeming her safe to enter. Another prowl along the edges of the sands, a pause at the galleries to stare at Thea, and only then does he move to see if Kilaueth needs any assistance.

With her human half present, it seems that its good enough for Kilaueth, for with a snort at Isterreth - as if telling him to get working - the Senior gold is shifting around to settle on the sands, a ripple of her sides before the first egg - hopefully of many - is laid upon the Xanadu Sands, even as the shell almost seems to stretch before shifting back to its normal shape.

Coils of Energy Egg
Dull silver snakes round and round over a field of white. From acme to sand hidden base the coils wrap, offering peaks of the pristine whiteness beneath from time to time. A rather plain egg with a wider mid-section then most where the coils seem to be gathered more tightly, overlapping each other until the appearance of a ridge is offered. To make it stand out all the more the poor ovoid seems to lean to one side even when standing straight and tall, and that needle like tip seems ready to lead the egg towards a fall.

G'ene's arrival is slightly later than that of the first egg, letting the door swing shut behind him as he announces, "Right, let's get this over and done with then." and heads for Niva. While he looks clearly unpleased at having to be here, Isterreth is finally geind of some more use and spends some time digging a careful trench to house some more of their clutch.

G'ene's arrival gets a long, suspicious look from Niva, even as the Weyrwoman is snorting at the bronzerider with a little tsk, continuing to slip around the outside of the Arena, staying out of Kilaueth's way, but letting the gold be sure to know she's present. "You'll be happy then, that we're out of Threadfall. You won't need to sit through a full three or four dozen." She remarks dismissively to G'ene with a little shake of her head as she cuts her way back in his general direction, keeping an eye on Kilaueth the whole while. The ash-tipped gold pauses to looks suspiciously over the first egg of the touch, cocking her head this way and that, giving it a little nudge in an attempt to make it stand up straight, before she's huffing and settling for burying it away beneath the sands, turning to nudge Isterreth lightly as he's carefully digging - a second nudge shifting him out of the way so she can make use of it.

Riding on Rainbows Egg
Pretty pink swirls dance around the shell of this medium sized egg, twisting with tendrils of turquoise and wisps of yellow as they stretch from one end of the shell to the other. Colors intermingle, switching places time and again, like a rainbow stretched and pillowed on top of itself to create the very shape of the ovoid. Along one side, a series of golden splotches appear, a large spot reminiscent of a star set amidst a crescent moon, shapes imperfect but distinct to an imaginative mind.

From the gallery, Thea's response to Isterreth is a gentle incline of her head, a respectful greeting for the bronze before her fingers settle that page and smoothes it into place. People are beginning to arrive and so rather than going back to her paperwork, she greets those who sit nearby with a warm, if sleepy smile. Then she's watching for the eggs to come.

From the gallery, R'soe leans on the gallery railing to get a better look, still sleepy eyes and bleary. He stays mostly quiet in order not to disturb the clutching queen, but can't help a giggle now and again at some silent commentary from his blue, high up above him.

From the gallery, Uninterested in most of the crowd gathering to watch the clutching, N'shen makes his way through it towards where Thea is sitting, settling down next to the goldrider with a sigh and a wave. "Hello, mother. Enjoying watching someone else's dragon push 'em out?" He tilts his head, shooting the weyrwoman a quick grin before he trains his gaze on the Sands, pursing his lips over the eggs already present. "Lemme tell you, between being down there and being up here, I'll choose here every time."

"Positively gleeful." Is G'ene's reply, though his tone is sarcastic and his expression far from happy. As niva appears to be heading back for him he pauses, finding a piece of wall to lean against as he digs in an inside pocket for one of his ever-present flasks of whiskey. Isterreth moves quickly as he's nudged, pausing to eye his own rider for a moment before going back to digging. Another trench is formed, quicker this time, before he goes back to ponder the first egg, head tilting to one side as he stares at it and then attempts to add some more sand around its base.

From the gallery, Natali's arrival is precded by two swirling firelizards, the little critters humming loud at the top of their lungs in joyful glee before the trader girl is telling them to hush, the brown settling onto her shoulder, and with a warbly little croak, the green perches atop the girl's head. Like a little hat. Stylish! "Hey," N'shen's voice is heard, Natali waving cheefully in his direction. "I was wondering what was going on." She's just in time to have seen the second egg. "Oooh, it's pretty," Like a rainbow.

From the gallery, There's a rather bored-looking bluerider that wanders up the steps. Y'ki stops shortly though upon entering, giving a faint grimace at the scene of egg..dropping. He sighs though, his own blue chattering faintly from where he landed to take a peek.

The pretty pink egg settles into the red and white Sands, Kilaueth carefully shuffling away to peer at it with a tilt of her head, the little sound that escapes from her almost a chuckle as she leaves it for Isterreth to tend to, the rippling of her sides betraying the coming arrival of another egg. A pause, and she turns to peer at Niva and G'ene, where the Weyrwoman is finally pausing at the Weyrleader's side, reaching for that flask as its pulled out. "You've no one to blame but yourself." She comments as she attempts to snag the drink - despite the early hour - Kilaueth snorting again before a shuffling step and a soft croon heralds the coming of not one, but two more eggs, each settled in turn into the bronze's neatly prepared trench.

Quick Draw Egg
Dark grays wrap around the front of this egg, while a red banding encompasses the gray and wraps around the back. It doesn't seem to stand out at first, being a rather dull egg and of rather small size, until closer inspection. Deep within the gray are darker gray lines that are hard to see from far away, they swirl and fall back on themselves, seeming to make a picture of some kind if even if it's not immediately apparent as to what that picture is. The lines are rather jagged and seem to be poorly made, as if the hand making them was a little shaky and unsure of what it was doing.
World of Possibilities Egg
Oddly angular, this egg appears to have a dimpled surface and looks a little unfinished overall. Its shape could not be called oval, even by the generous, but what it lacks in form it makes up for in color. Cherry red buffets against bright yellow, white dances with grassy green, dull gray intermingles with royal blue, and all link together to build up this unusual egg. Thin threads of silver, out of place yet seeming somehow right, wend their way through the blocks of color, adding a hint of the future that lurks behind the present.

From the gallery, R'soe looks down over the railing smiling to himself. "Pretty," he says, and scratches his chin.

From the gallery, "Hey there, you!" Thea's gaze lifts from sands to N'shen as he takes the seat beside hers. She reaches with her pencil to gently poke the eraser end at the teen's upper arm impishly, her grin saying it all, but she has to say laughingly, "Absolutely!" Her mouth opens to say more when Natali calls to him and her pale green eyes brighten. Lowly she asks him, "Is that the girl?"

Isterreth leaves the first egg, wandering around to pack sand up around the others that now rest on the sands. A pause is filled with some mor looking around, assessing the situation, before getting back to work. The third egg is almost buried in his attempts at securing it, but he quickly turns his attentions to another trench. "You just can't get enough, can you?" G'ene shakes his head a little, but doesn't try to keep the flask from her.

From the gallery, “'The girl', mother?" N'shen replies wryly, coming to his feet and lifting a hand for Natali to join them. "Yes, this is Natali," he adds, lips quirking in a lopsided smile as he spreads his attention between both women before wisely turning his gaze on the eggs and letting the two of them deal with meeting for the first time. He's learned many things from his father - some of them even useful.

"Oh, I think I've gotten -quite- enough from you, thank you." She replies with a shake of her head, tipping the flask back quickly before thrusting it back in his hands without a word of thanks, moving around him to try and get a better look at the eggs, should she be able to find an angle to peer at them that does not include Kilaueth's egg-heavy self. Said egg-heavy gold pauses in her laying to shift out of the way, settling down upon the Sands, watching Isterreth work on covering the eggs and digging, offering a pleasant little croon, approving of his handiwork, before she's slowly getting back to her feet, another egg determined to make its arrival immediately.

Outlook Not So Good Egg
This small obsidian egg seems out of place where it lies, and perhaps stranger yet it appears to be almost entirely spherical, any point buried beneath the red sands that surround it. Near what can only be vaguely designated as the top is a thin silver band segregating another perfect circle of shell. In the top circle lies a watery blue triangle, its surface speckled with white flecks that could almost become words if it was squinted at long enough, but whose meaning, if there is one, is obscured for the moment.

"They all say that, they still come back." G'ene wipes a hand quickly over the rim of the flask, then takes a swig himself before hiding it away once more in hispocket. "Five, lovely number. Are we done yet?" While bronzerider may be bored already, the bronze in question is methodically carrying out his duties, digging, packing, and generally being suspicious of everyone and everything around them.

From the gallery, Natali is the girl all right. Or more accurately THE girl. Crossing the space between her and N'shen — as well as Thea — before she smiles broadly from ear to ear. "Hi," comes her greeting, she'd curtsey the way her mother had insisted she do, but she's wearing pants, so she settles for a little head bob of greeting instead. "I'm Natali, though N'shen already said that," she pauses a moment. "Are you his mother? He's told me so much about you, and the tree outside your weyr was really fun to climb." She does glance at the sands for a moment, watching the eggs in curious interest, but then her attention is back on gold- and bronzerider alike.

"Probably out of regret, rather than anything else." Niva counters smartly, before the eggs are eyes when their buried, and she's looking back to G'ene with a dismissively little snort. "If your bronze is of any merit, there'll be at least eight, maybe even ten. Or a full dozen, if he's really good." Long answer short - no. Kilaueth leaves the suspicious, questionning thoughts to Isterreth, the gold instead quite focused indeed on the problem at hand - Eggs to be laid! Spiraling out from where the first egg was settled amongst the sands, another two join the first five, one ending up on its side, while the other is settled on a little mound, rather than in a trench.

Master of Deception Egg
A rather boxy egg, some trick of design has given this ovoid an almost cubic build. The apex and base are shaded in pale, silvery gray, thin lines of black picking out edges and creases, though the shell itself remains smooth. Rich, royal midnight picks up where metallic hue ends, encasing the entire belly of the egg in a dark, almost menacing shade. A single rectangle of soft, glossy blue, centered on one side of the egg, seems to contain a pair of spindles and an odd sigil formed of pale violet lines - a stylized, inhuman face - beneath the glossed surface. Though at a glance it seems but one unassuming egg amongst many, there's a hint of malevolence and a sinister charisma that suggests that one might call this egg unpretentious, but one could never call it unchrosomatic.
**Child's Whimsy Egg
A rather egg-shaped egg, this perfectly oval ovoid seems almost a child's representation of what a dragon's egg should look like. As though pieced together, several different blobs of color slap against each other, melting together to form a solid whole. Across the top, rich red bleeds downward into the belly of the egg, bright blue on the left and sunny yellow on the right - a thin strip of green marking where the two colors meet in the middle. Along the base, velvety purple and neon orange wrangle to cover the foot, muddy brown blobs indicating points where the two colors mingle grudgingly. Matte from top to bottom, the egg seems to absorb the light, giving it an almost pliant appearance - as though a single touch will leave behind an imprint.

From the gallery, At least Thea didn't say 'girlfriend'? Which is what she started to say and stopped herself just in time. But she says nothing to her son's wry question, remains composed as Natali joins them and greets her pleasantly and with a warm smile, "Hello Natali, it's nice to meet you. Nash is… my son by choice." Her arm sneaks around the boy's to give it a brief hug, pride for him so obviously in her voice as she continues, "The Weyrsecond is his da. N'shen has told me he'd be bringing you to dinner and I apologize that we haven't had the pleasure of welcoming you into our home, things being as they are…" She allows that to trail off with a nod down to Seryth and her eggs down there. "I haven't been home much since she clutched them, unfortunately."

"Oh would you stop being such a bloody girl." G'ene replies, "Jealousy doesn't suit you." But her revelation about numbers seems to have more of an effect than the bickering, "Oh bloody joy." His hand immediately goes digging about for the flask again. Isterreth moves quickly aroudn the eggs, nudging and rearranging as he goes. One particularly long pause has him staring intently at the exit from the sands yet nothing come through or leaves, after a time he shakes himself and goes back to egg tending.

"Oh, you would wish I was jealous, G'ene. You wish." Niva replies, keeping up the petty bickering with her Weyrleader, despite it for the most part being only that - bickering, and not out and out fighting - at least it seems that they've come to some sort of agreement over the intervening sevendays since the flight. Kilaueth offers a soft croon at Isterreth as the bronze pauses, abandoning her chosen spot to shuffle awkwardly towards him, giving him a nudge after he shakes himself free from the trance, a little hint of concern before she too is going back to the eggs, an eighth one soon appearing.

Whimsical Practitioner Egg
From a dragon's-eye-view, this egg would seem quite bland, mundane. Sterile white marks it as rather uninteresting from that angle, little to make for any in-depth conversation with only faint stains of who-know-what here and there; pinkish, brownish, even yellow, theyre faded and somewhat uninteresting. However, from a lower viewpoint, shapes begin to rise from the bland white background along the bottom hemisphere. Caught in some half-imagined shadow, they're hard to distinguish, but get close enough and they become somewhat more familiar. Is that…a sphygmomanometer? It's circular and bright red with a white face and seems to be set in some sort of a cuff, and that next to it could be a pump. But why would that stethoscope next to it be bright yellow? The shapes are all so bright and cheerful, so rounded and bubbly, it's hard to take it seriously. And yet, short and oddly flattened as it might be, the egg still somehow manages to be somewhat…whimsical.

From the gallery, Indeed - Nash would never hear the end of it… if Natali would even deign to talk to him again. "She is," he confirms for the girl, sending her a sidelong smile before he returns to his study of the eggs, lips twitching suspciously at Thea's words. "We'll still do dinner," he soothes the goldrider, reaching back absently to pat her arm. "It's just a bit delayed by work and eggs." Patting the bench beside him, he encourages THE girl to join the pair of them. "What do you think of the clutches, Natali?" he asks curiously.

From the gallery, "Hello," Natali's headbob was enough to almost dislodge the little green firelizard on her head, Bess clinging for dear life to the bruntette girl's hair. "Ow!" the trader lass yelps, trying to untangle hair and firelizard together before she plops down onto the bench. "That's all right," she remarks to Thea, "I understand if you've been really really busy. It's like my father sometimes, you see, he's so involved with trading that he forgets to come back to our wagon and eat or something. Too much to do, he says." She does follow the junior weyrwoman's nod to the younger gold and eggs. "There's going to be a lot of baby dragons here soon, I'd suppose?" She grins at N'shen then. "I think they look fantastic."

G'ene chuckles slightly, "You know what your problem is? No bottle." He offers over the flask, which is as close to a bottle as he has though is likely not the bottle he was referring to. "Afraid to follow up on things." Isterreth is somewhat calmer after his slight spacing out, Kilaueth's nudge helping him back to reality though initially his digging and packing is slightly less careful as earlier. Once his 'moment' passes completely he eyes his work, carefully going back over a couple of tenches to neaten them.

"I'm not sure I can even begin to explain what your problems are." Niva mutters, eying the flask before snatching at it, and this time after her sip she's leaving it clutched in her hand, held away from him as she watches her lifemate, and his, blinking a few times. However, there's no question asked as Isterreth now seems to be okay, and Kilaueth is picking one of those neat trenches to deposit egg number 9, backing up to hurriedly cover it herself, allowing only the briefest of looks at the shell.

Innocuous Fuzz and Buttons Egg
Quite rotund, this egg looks strangely…soft. It almost looks like it has /fur/, but that just can't be right. A warm, dark brown in color, the subtle variations in shade from near-black to honeyed brown do indeed look like fur, but up close it is just as normal as any other egg. Five paler tan-shaded spots seem almost velveteen, while the tan spot nearest the apex of the egg is marked with a large black spot that looks almost like a button; matching a pair of them situated slightly above it. From a distance, the effect is of a large, round animal face of some sort, the body sporting four tan paws…it's not a canine, but what can it be?

From the gallery, R'soe decides to leave the railing and finds a more comfortable perch to sit on. "Well they won't know what colors until they hatch, but my guess is that little traingle egg is blue. Maybe." Who is he talking to? His dragon of course! Siyamath gives a soft croon from where he is perched up on the rim.

From the gallery, Thea keeps her arm loosely linked with N'shen's, giving him a fond smile, "Good. I'm looking forward to it. I don't see enough of you anymore." Her lips form a clearly false pout, given away by the laughter that dances in her ice-green eyes as she regards them both, merriment that only dims a tiny bit as she says, "My da- Holder Thadan," her tone borders on cool as she says the name but is right back to warm as she continues, "is like that too. Work, work, work." Her eyes drift back down to the sands then, although she's still very much aware of the young pair beside her.

"Give it time, I'm sure you can find a dictionary. Find some suitably large words you think will impress someone." G'ene waves a hand at Niva, not quite grabby-hands, but definitely looking to get his flask back. Isterreth watches Kilaueth covering this latest egg, nodding slightly before moving back towards the first egg once more and adding some more sand to it, trying in vain to shore it up.

"What would the use of -that- be? I'm certain you wouldn't understand them." Niva counters with a roll of her eyes, tossing the flask back at G'ene even as she's taking a few steps towards Kilaueth as the gold seems finished, settled upon the sands as she is. And then, with the gold's back to the galleries, there's another ripple of her sides, and some shifting, however by the time the gold moves out of the way, the reason for it has disappeared completely beneath a pile of sand, and the gold is finally settling down, curled around one portion of her clutch as she continues to watch Isterreth rearrange that one egg.

**Amidst the Darkest Night Egg
From afar this egg looks more like a big rock than an egg at all, and if it wasn't so precariously buried in the sand with the rest of the eggs someone might mistake it for a good seat. It has a smooth, round shape and is a rather non-descript shade of black. Upon closer inspection however, the egg's shell of solid black is hardly that at all. Instead it's been covered in thousands and thousands of tiny specks of different color. Orange, green, red, purple, and every color in between; as if someone shrunk a group of painters to tiny proportions and had them speckle paint over the shell's entire surface. Certain areas even seem to work together to form distinct patterns similar to the way a group of clouds might.

From the gallery, "I could live without the work," N'shen replies dryly. "But V'dim is quite the taskmaster, and it's him or message running - I'll take our good Weyrlingmaster anyday." Snickering slightly, he rolls his eyes, then nods at Natali's words. "A double clutch means lots of babies, which means even more work for me when it's all said and done." Though his expression is tetchy, his tone of voice is - if not eager, not nearly as reluctant as he makes out to be. "See any that strike your fancy? I rather like that one," and he gestures to one of the multi-hued ovoids, "looks like something one of the twins'd make."

"Could use it to fix that wobbly leg on me desk." G'ene counters, grabbing at the flask as she tosses it back. "And while I remember I would very much appreciate it if you'd get rid of that piece of junk machine and bring back my filing cabinet from the stores." He doesn't manage a please, but at least it's a vaguely polite request for once. As Kilaueth curls up Isterreth goes over to the last egg, gently brushing some of the sand from it with his tailtip so that he can fix it in his mind for the time being. That done he carefully staightens it and begins to cover it once more. Job done the bronze relaxes slightly, eyeing the clutch, eyeing Kilaueth, then moving a little way towards the entrance to the sands and lying down himself, head facing the exit, on guard.

With Kilaueth's relaxed posture, and what seems like no more random, annoying bulges settled against her body, it seems that the gold is well and truly finished, the Senior queen watching the bronze finish tending to the eggs before he settles in to guard the entrance, apparently satisfied if the lidding of her eyes is to be taken as a sign. Niva glances over her shoulder with a little snort. "You know just fine where the stores are, Weyrleader." She offers, before she's moving to join her lifemate, leaning lightly against the gold's neck, offering soft congratulations and praise, looking over the clutch of 10, rather pleased herself.

From the gallery, Natali's gaze fastens on N'shen for one long moment before she glances away, focusing on Thea for an alternative instead. "That's my father to the life," she says with a slight laugh, "but he's such a good trader that nobody minds if he just thinks about work. My mother says it's to be expected, he's good at what he does and it requires work." Not that Natali herself minds, she grew up rather spoiled as a result of her father's success. "I'm still very much looking forward to the dinner with you, and the Weyrsecond. I also heard a lot about N'shen's brother and sister." She's settling her green firelizard into her lap now, having coaxed Bess off her head before she regards the young bronzerider once more. "You'll be awfully busy, won't you?" she asks him. "No more playing on the playground or climbing trees, right?" She pauses, looking over the two clutches. "I think that rainbow one is pretty. Although the one that looks dimpled is interesting."

G'ene shakes the flask, finding is disappointingly empty. "You're the one that moved the bloody thing." The flask is opened, checked, found empty. "I think it's celebration time." A pause, then a single word, "Pub." Isterreth rumbles at G'ene, but doesn't move from his position even as the weyrleader moves towards the entrance and gently claps a hand against the bronze's side in a classic 'well done' gesture.

From the gallery, "You're to be commended for your work ethic," Thea tells N'shen cheekily withdrawing her arm finally and taking her pencil back up to give her own work a cursory glance while murmuring, "Just make sure you take the time to relax now and then." If he's anything like his father, -that- won't be a concern. Her eyes lift to sweep the sands and the two clutches down there, a faint, tired smile on her lips, "Indeed there will be," she agrees with N'shen in a belated reply to Natali. Likely already thinking of all that comes with candidates flooding the barracks and all that entails. Or she might just be anticipating being able to be home finally. None of that is voiced, however. Instead she smiles brightly at the both of them at the mention of Muir and Marella. "They're never dull, I can tell you that." And now that the clutching is finished and folks are drifting away, her attention is being tugged, albeit reluctantly, back to that paperwork.

From the gallery, "Don't work too hard, mother," N'shen chides as he leans over to press a brief kiss to her cheek, before jerking his head to Natali, indicating that it might be best if the two of them leave the goldrider to her paperwork. As he moves away, along the rail, he tilts his head over his shoulder to consider the trader-girl. "Either I've been busy of late, or you have. Haven't seen you around much." Is there a hint of disappointment in his voice? Perhaps, because he continues with, "I hope Taozyuth's constant need for nose-scritches didn't drive you away."

From the gallery, "That's a good thing," Natali puts in, her thoughts turned towards the twin siblings of N'shen — the ones she has yet to meet. "It's better that they aren't dull, because nobody wants to sit around with dull children. Boring." She turns to look at N'shen then, smiling rather reassuringly to him. "Well, I did go back to the resident dorms once they cleared the bugs out. I'd left so many of my things there, you see. I've been … busy, I suppose you could say." she shrugs. "Helping my uncle mostly. I think … " she pauses, breath catching, "I think we're going north soon. He had me send my father a note, we're just waiting to see if there's any ships that could sail in this weather." She manages a wry smile then. "I'm not sure if I want to go with him. I'd miss everything here. And Tao. I think he liked me giving him nose-scritches. I wouldn't run away from him if he wanted more."

From the gallery, Thea laughs, delighted with Natili at that. "Keep this one," she calls to the departing N'shen with a thread of teasing in the words and waits for it, the standard protest of 'Mooo-oooom!' giving the two a casual wave, she's absorbed rather quickly in that ledger once again, if only to get it done and over with.

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