Who

Veresch, T'ral, Esanth

What

After the bonfire, Veresch hitches a ride back to Igen from T'ral and Esanth.

When

It is evening of the tenth day of the fourth month of the first turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Southern Weyr ::Between:: Igen Weyr

OOC Date

 

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Boardwalk

Ancient-cut stone stretches broad, smoothed by the wind and the weather and the rain to create a boisterous center of commerce. Wood overlays stone in places, patterned and pretty, to attract the eye of those traversing the strip to particular vendors. Though not the size of the tremendous markets of the North, the boardwalk's offerings show the knowledge of ageless crafters: Smith contraptions, Herder-certified animals, Starcraft maps and Weaver textiles are only some of the things that may be purchased, among the spicy scents of beach food and the contrast of bright shells and dark stones from the shoreline.

It is the seventieth day of Autumn and 78 degrees. A break in the overcast gloom, with storms to come.


Earlier, in the rain that turned Southern into a fragrant, jungle-scented, rain-sheeted mystery, Veresch had danced down this very boardwalk in an exuberance of good spirits. Now, with spirits no less wonderful but with a thicker jacket around her shoulders and hands deep in warm pockets, she browses slowly down the line of night-empty stalls, wandering a little aimlessly to make time pass. In the jacket, her knot is hidden and she looks like a million other teenagers: a little more delicate, sure, and a lot more scrawny, but not exactly out of place. In one spot, just before the boardwalk allows access to the beach, she pauses to admire a length of intricate carving in the wood, sighing with sheer envy.

As the bonfire on the beach broke up, riders started getting set to ferrying folk back to Igen. Up and down the sand along the boardwalk, riders await 'fares' standing in knots between their dragons, chatting amiably and enjoying the night air, the remnants of the buffet and the good news of Southern's healthy grubs. A bluerider leans against his lifemate's chest with a bemused look on his face, watching a knot of green and blueriders (given the dragons nearby) discuss something animatedly. He leans forward to call something to the group and settles back, arms folded across his chest.

With so many strange faces around, is it odd at all that Veresch is a little hesitant about things? She sees the line of dragons and riders, she intuits their purpose accurately, but the number of strange faces get to her, and she hangs back for a moment. A big sigh sounds, gathering courage by volume, and she finally makes her way, skirting around the noisier ones. One is skipped, then two, until she comes to a quietly leaning bluerider. Her feet pause and she nods once, respectful. "Sir. May I ask — would it be possible to give me a lift back to Igen? I think my original arrangement is … somewhere at the beach still." Probably passed out.

The bluerider stands forward, eyes scanning the young woman, flicking to her shoulder for a knot. He smiles briefly, a flash of white teeth in a tired, tanned face. "That's what we're here for." He turns to the stocky blue dragon and begins a pre-flight check of the straps, "First time in Southern?" He looks over with a curious lift of brows, eyes turning back to the straps, tugging the fastenings. The star-dusted blue shifts and turns a heavily-jawed head to blink at Veresch.

The girl shakes her head. "Second time," she explains, face uptilted to watch him properly. The look at her shoulder gets a shrug, enough to make the large jacket slip just briefly to reveal a simple Igen knot before she's shrugging it back on. "Last time it was really, really hot and not fun at all, but now…" Her gaze flicks from him, to his blue, then the evening sky beyond, inhaling the perfumed tropical air happily. "Now it's beautiful. The rain earlier really made my day." Her gaze drops back to the blue, and she dips her head in quick courtesy. "Hello." Then, back to T'ral, "Thank you for that, sir. I appreciate the lift."

The rider grunts, tugging a strap more secure and ducks under his dragon's neck. The blue is looking stoically at Veresch, eyes barely turning and a deep bluegreen, lamp-like in the dark. Moonlight on his hide catches scars and scuffs and gives him a silvery mottling of stardust. The appearance of scruffy solidity and experience belied by his rider's obvious youth. The heavily jawed head lowers to rumble a deep, grinding sound at Veresch. "He says, 'Evenin' Miss.'" The rider makes a few final checks and takes up a position at the dragon's shoulder a hand propped on the blue. The dragon settles onto his belly. "Like the rain, do you?" He grins, lopsided, "Me too. You do want a break after a solid seven of it. And after a month of it?" He gives his head a single shake, eyes widening. "Everyone gets batty." Thumping the blue's shoulder, the rider indicates the straps, "Don't mention it. Front or back?" Where does she want to sit?

Veresch's eyes are similarly large at that deep, grinding noise, low enough to not-quite-register on her eardrums. There's a rapid blink afterwards, a smile somewhere between ashamed and happy. "I love the rain," she enthuses as she scoots closer to the blue's side, looking at the intricate warren of straps with intent curiosity. "Might get a bit mouldy after a month though, but…" For the moment she'll be happy splashing through them with bare feet. "Front." The position is decided quickly, perhaps too quickly judging by the unholy look of anticipation settling on her face, and she looks for permission to clamber up.

"Batty AND mouldy," he agrees. He nods, waving a hand, "You first, then. Easy does it." Hands laced to help Veresch up unlace at her apparent readiness to board unassisted. Still, he leaves a hand out for steadying, just in case, Southern gentleman that he is. If such a thing exists. That rapt look is noted, "Flown a bit?" he ventures.

The girl scrambles up the straps like an awkward monkey, and only needs assistance in a few spots as she scrambles onto the blue's neck. "Yes," she says happily. "A few times. I love the moment when they, you know, shut their wings and dive and it's as if your cheeks start flapping in the wind." Total adrenaline-junkie, this one. "And I like watching the ground approach, and when little figurines become people that walk around."

T'ral clambers up behind, handing over a heavy belt for strapping in, seeing the girl settled and ready to launch before settling in himself. Straps up here are checked, re-checked. He nods, stomach fluttering still at the thought of that weightless suspended moment the girl has referenced. Once the safety precautions are seen to, the rider confides, "I shook for a solid hour after my first flight." The grin is apparent in his voice, "And wanted to go right back up. It was the ninth or tenth time before I could even remember anything that happened aloft." He chuckles to himself at the memory. He takes a deep breath, going over the straps again mentally. Good and good. "Ready? Tap my leg three times if you need to descend for any reason." She may know the drill, but it's protocol, "When we're between, stay calm and focus on your breathing. It shouldn't be much longer than three breaths to reach our destination."

Veresch sits quietly through the preparations, lifting her arms to get the heavy strap buckled around her, and lowers her hands to the mesh beneath for a good handhold. "Thank you," she murmurs, voice quieter for his gentle patience in explaining the procedure. "I'll try to stay calm, but it's always hard in there." Doubly so for non-riders, who have no immediate bond with a dragon to offset the paralysing fear of getting lost.

"You won't feel us, but we're here. It'll be fine." Along the beach other riders are going through similar discussions with passengers headed to parts remote. "Hang on, his gait's a bit rough," T'ral warns as the blue surges to his feet and ambles out to the spit of stone that juts into the water. Their runway. Let's take the long way out, eh? The dragon rumbles and lopes down the rock, launching into the air over the water, wingtips kicking up spray as they beat for height. The flight path curves slowly westward, banking shallowly over the Sea. The caldera of Southern visible as a blackness against the sky to the north. Stars above. The bonfire, a bright beacon below, falls away behind. The air is cooler, humid still, but not as unpleasant. They level out and T'ral points out the path to the Weyr, lit at intervals by glows. The arch of the bridge into the Weyr and then, the dense vegetation climbling the caldera walls, black in the night, except where glows or torches ring an area with brightness. Sober stone buildings, austere picked out in grays and blues in the moonlight, cling in clusters to the insides of the caldera. Esanth bugles a greeting to the watchdragon who returns it gustily.

Veresch braces as the blue leaps into the air, expression briefly stunned at the up her stomach chooses to do this time — having done this on Jivayath and Narloth, it's incredibly strange to feel a smaller dragon do it, and it earns a brief pinch of eyes. It's the flick of spume over wingsails that teases her into opening them, and after that the brilliant star-lit sky. She's quiet now; her words are lost to the pain somewhere behind her breastbone as her heart clenches at the unutterably beautiful view. There's the suggestion of a sniffle - she does not cry - and a tightening of her grip on the leathers as she leans avidly forward, trying to see more, trying to experience it, put it in her box of memories. Southern at night? One of the most glorious views ever.

Esanth skims the caldera walls, past ledges and weyrs, resting dragons, lounging riders hands raised in greeting, everything flickering past in a rush of moonstruck stone and greenery. Then they're up, over the caldera's edge, the sea glittering to the south and east, moonlight a path across the distant waves. The bluerider leans forward, tapping the girl's leg to get her attention, "Sit back, now. We're gonna make the trip Between." When she does so, he puts an arm around her waist, a steady brace. "On three. Count it with me. One," Esanth dips and makes for the waves, "Two," wind whickers, fluttering over wings in a steady glide, "Three." Blackness.

For a moment, a sheerly rebellious moment, Veresch doesn't want to sit back at all. There's a stiffness to her back, but that melts seconds later, and she rests back against T'ral with a nod. "One." Her arms tighten on the straps, and her eyes open wide. "Two." She stares at the oncoming waves, breathing out in a slight, unaspirated hiss of tremendous enjoyment. "Th…" Blackness surrounds her, infests her, pouring in through eyes and screaming mouth and wide-open mind; divorced even from the thud-thud-thud of T'ral's heart against her back and the feeling of Esanth between her thighs, it's a harrowing passage this time.

Interminable those long insensate moments. It is nearly impossible to know how long they were Between, execpt that T'ral trusts his and Esanth's abilities to envision Igen's uniquenessses. Horror vaccui. The mind abhors a void. But there's nothing to fill it with, just … Nothing. And then Igen's air, dry and crisp, warm comparatively. The sparkling stars above, the brown-gray expanses below. Clustered warren of the Bazaar, light spilling from tiny windows and from the stony mouths of weyrs dotting the cliffsides. Moonlight on the water of the lake, the moon paths across the lake shorter, smoother than those over the Azov. T'ral takes a deep breath of the cold-dry air, arm easing, letting Veresch have her freedom of movement back. The rider points off and down to the central bowl an area where riders from out of the Weyr tend to land. Winging down, Esanth spirals lower, lower, bugling his presence to the watchdragon who bugles in response.

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The girl is panting as they pop out in the sky above Igen; she's pale in the moonlit sky, and her hands are clenching a tad tighter than they did at departure. Another gasp, this one less ragged, less panicked, and finally, slowly she unkinks her spine to straighten again. "Thank you," she mutters belatedly, presumably for the arm. As beautiful as Southern was, this is home, and the unexpected beauty fills her eyes with tears. "Thank you," she murmurs again, this time for an entirely different reason. "And to your blue as well. That was … good." Is still good. Hell, her thoughts aren't working right now.

They land, Esanth coming in low and rearing up, wings beating hard to arrest their forward movement before snapping closed and dropping to the rocky, sands, trotting off the rest of the momentum. A still moment at rest, T'ral does a mental check, a hand laid lightly on Veresch's arm to signal her to stillness. A sharp nod and T'ral is unclipping his belt, dark eyes roving the area. There are a few dragons. High above another winks in, probably from Southern as well, but too distant and to dim to make them out with eyes. Esanth settles, lowering himself to his belly. T'ral slips down, offering a hand up to Veresch. His posture is different here. Wary, guarded. "You're welcome," the bluerider says, eyes flicking briefly, up to Veresch and back out the the shadowed rocks and sand. A quick twitch of a smile, brittle but genuine, "I like ferrying folk."

She waits and watches, unused to such caution; there's a slight shiver of her arm and a cautious look around to him. Too observant this one, even as she slips down with the assistance of a hand. It's only as her feet touch the ground and she's thanked Esanth that she turns to consider T'ral thoughtfully. "Is something wrong?" she asks finally, the kind of statement that makes it clear she sees something amiss, but doesn't wish to insist out of respect for the duty they've performed for her and … well. It's Igen. Secrets are heartsblood here, and she's feeling unwontedly polite about prying tonight.

"Nothing in particular, Miss." Apparently. He looks off towards the Bazaar, eyes hard, a tight worried look at the girl, "Is there anyone can meet you?"

Now there's a look in the girl's eyes, something inexplicable. So, "No, but you don't need to be worried, sir. I've walked these streets at night before, so I'll be safe on my way to bed." She considers him for a moment more before a hand is stretched out in his direction: small, open-palmed, warm and clean. "Goodnight. I hope to see you again some day soon. Perhaps… perhaps I'll have the privilege of a ride again. Clear skies, sir."

The rider nods, not pressing the issue. "He says, 'You're welcome, Miss,' and-'" The young man's eyesbrows climb and he casts a look at the dragon who, for his part, shifts indifferently, wings rustling. A tight, fond smile at the dragon lingers as the man says, "My pardon," with an inclination of his head, hand pressed to his belly, "T'ral, blue Esanth's." He takes the offered palm and gives it a shake, brow furrowing with light bemusement, "I don't get here too often," sandy bunghole of Pern, but he shrugs an allowance of the possibility. "Clear skies, Miss."

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