T'ral, A'kehm


Wingleader and wingrider have a very civilized exchange.


It is afternoon of the twenty-fifth day of the tenth month of the sixth turn of the 12th pass.


Southern Weyr

OOC Date 10 Jan 2016 08:00


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"Well, that's what I do, help people."



A comfortable nook, this natural extension of the living room is cozily attired with overstuffed chairs and a couple of well-worn loveseats. All have been covered in various shades of green, giving the very incongruous appeal of a miniature forest hidden away inside… a grove of man-made proportion. Fish stews and spicy white-wherry chili are often kept hot on the minor hearths east and west of the main, for those whose hours defy when meals are kept. Ornate, the largest hearth towers high, rich with carving and utilitarian in fashion: it holds court by providing the weyr with rich klah, the air thick with the scent of cinnamon wafting.

It is the eighty-fifth day of Spring and 94 degrees. It is a bright, sunny day with a gentle wind.

Late afternoon in Southern's spring. Rukbat is slanting low, the light growing golden, shadows growing longer. It would be beautiful to be on the garden terrace, as the temperatures have not yet spiraled hotter than blood and it is quite lovely outside. Alas, it is too windy for the hidework that Lynx's wingleader is T'ral is perusing. And so, we find him sitting at what would be dignified repose, reading sweep reports with the bowl of a pipe held in one hand, fragrant smoke curling up to haze the shadowed vaults, the very image of a gentleman rider (if such an image exists). Rather, it would be the very image if he wasn't staring with some dismay into a corner of the nighthearth. The corner where the Weyr's ancient feline sits day after day after day near the hearth. Is it even alive? T'ral gives breath to a statement, attention locked on the rheumy-eyed creature, "That thing gives me the willies." This, from the man who can identify over a dozen kinds of organic humors by taste courtesy of turns in the dragon infirmary.

A'kehm had entered and crudey thrown out a hand at a firelizard too close, in his opinion, to the food district. The wildling rider eats, and eats, at a table of his chosing. He talks little, all but grapples for salt, and has helpings that number past three. And a roll. He drank little, but carries watery wine with him for the look apparently, the nighthearth his end goal. The geriatric feline is scooped up and placed on the floor, so then he can sit. "That thing?" A look of surpise towards the thin and oily-furred critter. "Sir." Salute. Not his best.

T'ral's attention flicks to the incursion of 'new' Lynx rider A'kehm. He half expects the old wherry-killer thus dropped to puff into a drift of ashy fur and dust when it hits the ground. It, instead, writhes in A'khem's grasp, wiry and mean, growling low, one of its few remaining teeth and too-long claws offered to the bronzerider for his efforts. The low-gravelly complaint continues even after the horrible thing hits the ground and stiffly saunters out of sight, tail twitched at all and sundry, 'GOOD DAY.' A'kehm's 'not best' salute is noted with a flatness of expression, a nod in return, a gesture with the pipe. Release from courtesies. Continuing the thread, "No one knows how old he is. Or if 'he' is a 'they.'" Maybe there are several of him, generations of him. "He was just here when the Weyr was settled." Veritas, the true King of Southern. "Re-settled." T'ral corrects, marking his place in the reports with a finger moved down to left-off line, attention shifting to his wingrider.

A'kehm has been bitten, scratched, bruised, and thrashed by animals he remembers and some he chooses not to. The feline is nudged away further with a foot as he takes control of its warm spot. "Looks every day of it too." He sits crookedly, favoring one buttock out of idle preference for comfort. He sips wine and doesn't really enjoy it, or so says his flat expression. Or maybe he's troubled. Naw. A'kehm looks over to T'ral, one notch away from bored. He knows better than to let that look linger in front of 'superiors'. Seeing his wingleader through the lens of smoke, "you looked relaxed, sirr." Two rs, syllable stretched out.

A feline's ire is a special thing, well out of proportion with its size. But the advance of years has robbed old Veritas of his strength and the attack is as watered as Kehm's wine. The ire, though, pure spite blazing from eyes glowing balefully at Kehm from under T'ral's chair. The creaky bastard circled around and under to better put matter-filled mustard eyes silver with cataracts on A'kehm. Swish, swish. Tail twitches back and forth. His ease might well come from the leggy nut brown spirit in a snifter on the small table next to comfortable chair. T'ral tilts his head at A'kehm, caninelike in curious regard, "That's not something I often hear." Though… more of late. Something to think on. He studies the bronzerider, noting the stretched syllable, the look of distaste. "Likewise. What are you up to this evening?" Genuine curiosity there. He flips mentally through the duty rosters, searching for A'kehm's disposal this seven.

A'kehm corners the feline with his eyes this time. They hate that. He holds up a foot closer to the fire where the light gifts them a dull shine the boot wouldn't otherwise experience. The big bronzerider is not concerned with appearances, ragged he looks, overgrown, a calling to his designation of 'wild'. Despite this he smells of cedar resin and places touched by cold. "I am in between tasks." A safe thing to say, and true, though he turns no details up on the gap between these tasks. Ahiardhath is oiled, some nut derivative for its secondary healing properties. Shards, he needed a quantity of it. More wine's imbued, he washes he teeth with it.

A'kehm is stretched out in a chair opposite T'ral, who sits with more dignity smoking a pipe and going over sweep reports. There's an ancient feline under T'ral's chair. It may, in fact, be stuffed. Except… it moves. Muddy mustard gaze meets simply muddy. Tail twitches and then, with a low muttered curse of a growl, Veritas turns his back on A'kehm and curls upon the rug under T'ral's chair. His back turned, A'kehm. His back. Turned. That's how impressed Veritas is with A'kehm's look. Though, it should be noted: Veritas looked away first. T'ral's tone is dry, "An apertif isn't regularly on your docket?" Gentlemanly affront. The two riders, blue and bronze, do share a penchant for sarcasm, if little else. The pipe is fitted back to lips, smoke coaxed through the stem with thoughtful working, the bluerider's eyes drop to the reports.

A'kehm stares into the remainder of weak wine, angles the container, deciding if it's worth it. "No, whatever that is." He bites the bullet, throws the rest of the wine down his throat and swallows, adam's apple lurching. He looks again at T'ral, the wingleader he sees without really looking, obeying without really questioning. He's thinking the bluerider too posh, though he does like inhaling that residue of smoke. "He likes you." Regarding Veritas' butt, the most he can see.

The posh affronted affect is just that: affected. For effect. A joke just for T'ral. Though he's steeped enough in fine Benden rearing, in Harper Hall's discipline and, not least, a true son of the Lord Warder Renalde — a veritable bastion of propriety — to wear mannerliness as comfortably as his coat. "No?" Smoke, teased on the tongue, tasted, curls out to hang in lazy halo, swirling, broken by a shift as T'ral leans forward, snaring the cut glass decanter of his leggy companion this evening. "Feel free to join me." Should he so choose, A'kehm will find the spirit has a bit of bite, though (like Veritas) mellowed with age, with a nutty aftertaste.* "Pardon?" T'ral pauses with decanter outstretched, his boots now planted on the ground, follows A'kehm's gaze to see the dark hanks of dry fur bristling from curled feline back. "In some parts of Pern, it's said this means I'll die 'fore the seven is out. You a betting man, A'kehm?"

A'kehm is enjoying the look of the fire but not the heat it throws off so he shifts uncomfortably, already too hot. Without a definition, he lets 'apertif' slide from his memory whilst witnessing the reemployment of his drinking vessel. "In some parts of Pern those are eaten before they get that bad," tipping his skull back to consume a bit of T'ral's product, snarly hair falling further past his back. "Only if the stakes are good." He smiles maniacally at T'ral. After having tasted the cognac (or whatnot), he seems more lively.

The definition was implicit in the offer, though that was perhaps too subtle for a man of A'kehm's upbringing. T'ral spills a healthy splash into repurposed glass, settling back. His pipe is set on a rest and the decanter closed with a faint clatter. His own glass is raised to A'kehm, "To this being not those parts." T'ral hasn't a taste for dying or for feline, apparently (for all that his writer implied that the man licks cats). The glass, sipped, rests now on the arm of T'ral's chair, where sparks fill its belly, a dance of refracted gold light. His folio of reports are left aside, he is curious instead about this enigmatic rider in his wing. He cocks his head again, "I never did get to thank you." He lets the words play out, patting his chest with absent focus. Ah. A pouch of tobacco fetched and tossed to the table between. A toss of T'ral's chin follows the bag, inviting A'kehm to help himself to a smoke as well. Pipe not included. "Catryn has said that you were a comfort to her during Candidacy." He lifts the snifter to study the effect of those golden sparks, before tilting his head the other way to regard the bronzerider mildly.

Yes, subtle and went over A'kehm's head. That's why T'ral steers Lynx. He's angling again, this time away from the light and just so happens to be apart from T'ral. "Hey you said it, not me." Again that grin, best suited for thieves, killers, and esteemed madmen. His feet are partially under the chair and it looks like his back might be twisted in the rigors of slightly painful flexibility he's mostly too comfortable to adjust. The landing of the tobacco attracts his eye, sudden movement their focus, but alas he has no pipe, but can absorb the exahust of chemicals from his wingleader. "Catryn said that?" Fresh from a drink his voice is wet, more pure. And laden with disbelief.

"Not in so many words." Mild, the tone, eyes smiling. The pipe, now that drinks and tobacco are distributed, resumes its perch, "But, yes. She did." Catryn recounted the enigmatic man's presence in her trying Candidacy, "You made her laugh. Feel safe." He inclines his head again, acknowledgement. Dark eyes stay on other man who, while of a height is heavier of limb and has a heft. Presence. He bears watching. Light flares in the pipe bowl, the bluerider's eyes staying on the bronzerider. Smoke spills on the exhalation, hanging in the air with the old man's regard. His chair creaks in small protest of T'ral shifting his weight, ankle coming to knee, ease resumed. "When I couldn't."

"Ahhh." A'kehm kicks his head back at the clarity of it which is now easier to swallow. He scrubs at his scalp for the outcome of a good scratch. "Well, that's what I do, help people." That same hand used on his head has its palm turned up as if waiting for rain, or payment, or sainthood. The dark drink comes again to his lips where he hasn't tasted similar smoothness in over a turn. He would be the tailgate guy drinking Pabst or Genesee. An eyebrow ticks up, the one bearing a scar. "You're her weyrmate." He makes a face. "You Searched her?"

Dark eyes skip to that open palm. The affable Southern gentleman seems briefly a guise, as thin as the spring-weight wool of his finely made coat. "You made her laugh. Feel safe." He repeats. "When I couldn't." The words are heavier on repetition carrying the added weight, leaden, of those before, "We're square." He'd appear pleasant… if the smile reached his eyes. At A'kehm's question, his expression shifts, posture following. His own brows tick up, "Esanth did, yes. Who collared you?" If he reflected, T'ral might recall. Much and more has happened since then and the Searchers responsible for Candidates who Impressed are a low priority for keeping in active memory. Esanth has a good record — with one recent exception — much to the bluerider's great relief.

A'kehm's hand has its fingers curl in though the idle action moments before wasn't implicitly seeking a handout- not that one would have been refused, however. He likes a full pocket as much as the next man, especially for little to no work. Finally, the fire is too much for him to bear and he's removed from the chair out of his own volition. "From the Weyrwoman herself through Arianne's reach. For two large double clutches they had to stoop to wildlings." The bronzerider looks the part of laughing though nothing of that nature stems from his mouth. Humored, he has no pride except when he does. "Back to the salt mine," an elbow flares in a one-armed stretch of those extended shoulder muscles bedded in his back. "Thank you, sir, for the communication." And he didn't leave a drop of alcohol for waste. "Give Catryn something good from me." Eye shine.

The nod T'ral gives suggests that that is the reminder he needed to put the details of his wingriders' Searches in context, affirming them. There's a low, rolling growl from under the chair as A'kehm begins to take his leave. T'ral sits forward to peer down. The feline hasn't moved, but serves A'kehm notice by reflex. To the 'sleeping' Veritas. "Careful, you might end up a kabob." He settles back as A'kehm prepares leavetaking. T'ral's brows furrow for A'kehm's choice of word, "I've never cared for the term 'wildling.' I think it predisposes one to underestimation." Something T'ral is on guard against, his smile broadens, "And you are esteemed, A'kehm." The utterance is layered, leavened with humor and earnestness alike. A'kehm is confident and canny, there is no reason to mince words. "We should do this more often." That is (perhaps strangely) sincere. "Oh," a hand folds solemnly over his abdomen, guarding the trust of A'kehm's offered regard to Catryn — it's regard A'kehm is offering, right? "Of course." He inclines his head in gentlemanly regard of his own. "Evening, wingrider."

A'kehm, also by reflex, instates a false step forward at the chair and feline as if to charge it. One has a feeling this will be a battle for the ages with only one coming out alive. "And it might end up keeping my ears warm with its hide." But the man appreciates spunk. To conquer is no fun without some ready resistence. "Just don't tell my wingleader." Soberly, he dispatches a salute and stride forward, "not too often, sir." And there's an arbitrary laugh that follows him like a tail.

* The beverage, not the cat. A'KEHM.

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