Ksenia, Cha'el


A pair of strangers find themelves in a tight situation and almost wind up killing each other. (Occurs around the same time as Khalyssrielth rises and Ja'kai buys it.)


It is the seventh day of the eleventh month of the first turn of the 12th pass.


Southern, Cave In The Ice Fields

OOC Date 22 May 2014 07:00


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Spring in the mountains is not a comforting presence; it's cold, harsh and full of harsh brilliance of Rukbat's sharp light shattering, cascading down onto a snow driven land. The lingering fingers of frost of winter still cling to the ice shelf, keeping it hard but not impervious to the coming of spring. The ground glistens in this early morning light as the chill of night is relinquished to the coming rise of the temperature of the morning. Slogging through the snow, ill-dressed for the chilly temperature is a woman in colorful layers. Scarves, skirts — pretty much anything that could be warm for the trader-girl pieced together this winter outfit from a piecemeal of garments. Crunch, crunch, crunch… the thick (partially mismatched) boots slog through the pre-dawn light, through the crusty spring-snows, and in the wrong direction: away from the base camp. She's got her eye on something in the distance, barely seen in the half-light of morning.

The Ice Fields of the Southern continent are hardly the place one might expect to find Igen’s Weyrsecond but there he is, or will be as soon as Sikorth gets his act together and lands. With a whoosh that sends what snow dusts the ice underfoot into a flurried eddy, the big brown lands with a solid thwump directly behind where Ksenia trudges outwards. Garbed in full flight leathers with an extra jacket of thick wherhide in tones of rust brown with its fur-lined hood drawn up about his face, Cha’el drops to the ground, the only items removed being his flight helmet and goggles with the hood of his jacket drawn straight back up again. Squinting against the harsh light it takes him a moment or two for sight to adjust but when it does, brows about climb into his hairline in response to the colorfully dressed woman, amusement drawing a quirked line to his mouth as he takes in the various different layers of clothing. “Lost?” He drawls sauntering toward her as if his dragon hadn’t just kicked up a storm of his own making.

One arm raises to protect her face from the swirling snow-storm of draconic origins, cheeks pink from the cold and eyes glittering as the snow reflects off the wetness of her eyes. At least it is not below zero! "Baba," Ksenia drawls when the snow settles and the rider appears from behind the cloud, "Ksenia is never lost." A bright, fun-loving smile curves across her expressive mouth when she refers to herself in the third person. "And what's a fancy-pants like you doing out here? Are you lost?" She's got a mouth on her, that's for sure. Tucking her hands into the folds of the many layers, she dances from foot to foot, glancing only once to the brown dragon that accompanies the rider. Note, she didn't give up anything on her destination.

Baba? Amusement deepens ever more as Cha’el draws closer. “Hardly.” He gives back misunderstanding the use of the term. “Not for quite a while now.” He adds with a roguish grin giving Ksenia a thorough once-over. What? He’s male and she’s pretty. It’s not that bright out that he doesn’t notice. “On the upside, you’ll be easy to find if you do get lost.”

Ksenia deals in the business of trades and so when he checks her out, her expression shifts to one of mercenary intent. “Like what you see, baba?” Dark brows raise, eyes glittering with a deep well of amusement. “Don’t tell me you’ve come all this way out to the cold to get your fortune read?” Her gaze sweeps over the brownrider with a cold, cold calculation. “Too bad. Your future is hazy, but see, I, why I’m on my way elsewhere.” She flicks her hand and turns on her boots, the snow crunching beneath the action. “Mock all you like, dragon man. I have style.” Life’s too short to indulge in negative, angry emotions so nothing seems to phase her.

Bland with a chance of sheepishness would be the weather forecast that drifts across bearded features. “Mmm,” Cha’el hums, “nice boots.” Yup, he’d totally been looking at her footwear. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. A snort and a dismissive roll of eyes greet comments about futures and how they read. “If I went by that hogwash, I shoulda been dead five turns ago.” The brownrider counters eyeing the sly young woman with a lightly narrowed look as if perhaps he were peering into her future. “And what brings a fortune teller all the way out here, hmm? Looking to part poor unsuspecting lugs from their hard earned marks to be told their futures look vague?” Yup, he’s teasing again.

“What brings a fancy pants all the way out here?” Ksenia fires this back with the sharp snap of saucy wit, “Especially one from oh-so-far north as where you hail.” The look she gives him is droll, amused at this strange man who happens to be nosing into her business. “Do you,” archly asked, the query coming with the lift of dark brow, “happen to see people other than yourself out here?” Throwing her arms wide, the double gloved fingers spread out and a hint of silver dangles from her wrist. “HELLO STRANGE SPIRITS OF THE NORTH. HEAR MY CALL.” She gives him a withering look. “No, I’m here on my own business. Why are you so interested, baba?” Without waiting for a reply, she turns and starts walking. He can follow or be left behind.

“Fancy pants?” Cha’el echoes a brow cocking as amusement threads back into the set of his baritone. “Lady, I’m no more than a lowly seacrafter bonded to a dragon.” That big fancy knot of his conveniently hidden beneath the warm hug of his jacket that signifies rank far above that of most riders, the brownrider jerks a thumb back over his shoulder in the direction of the base camp behind them. “There’s dumb schmucks a plenty back there.” He helpfully notes and then does a bit of a cringing double-take at the sudden shout to the skies. “Damn, you got lungs on you, woman.” Is the mostly good-natured grumble that ensues as he trudges off after Ksenia, intrigued by the colorfully bedecked woman. “No reason,” broad shoulders shift in a shrug. “Though do wonder if maybe you have a death wish or something being out here on your own, in the cold.” He’d add more but is momentarily distracted by a comment from Sikorth, who, sending up another flurry of snow, lunges skywards and disappears from view.

“All riders got a chip on their shoulder, baba,” Ksenia states like the world-weary trader woman she is. “Especially ones with little sacks of flesh between their legs that make them think they own the world. You’ve got the scent of a nowtimer on you, boyo, so I’m sure you’ve grown up thinking that having genitals on the outside is such a clever design that it makes you special. Well you’re no more special than I. We all bleed red and your kind’s harassed my kind more than they haven’t.” The look given around the shawls that wind about her head is exasperated. In her mind, he’s slotted into the ‘fancy’ category just for the weyr and dragon association, fancy knot be damned. “Death wish? Faranth’s skies, boyo. I’ve got a treasure wish. Out here, in the wastes, there’s gotta be something a girl like me can pawn off to fools like you.” The flash of a grin is sharp, much like the scrappy alley cat eyeing the juicy pickings of a plump turkey. “I’ve heard they’ve already found bones. Bones mean treasure. And see that cave out that way? Looks interesting enough for me to check out.” Huddling to a hunch, the colorful and garish Ksenia tugs the shawls around her head. Though a curl of reddened espresso colored hair tugs free and almost gets eaten before a gloved hand pulls it out of her mouth with a crass little “ptah” sound. A jerk of her chin to the sky has her querying, “Where’s your beast going?”

The more Ksenia makes assumptions and maligns his gender and position in life so the more Cha’el’s brows pitch lower toward one another in the shadow of the hood drawn over his head. Initially, there’s no reply merely a rumbling mutter going on under his breath and then he lengthens his stride. Catching up on overtaking the haughty young woman he plants himself directly in her path and fits her with an intent look. “Whoever he was, he musta done a real number on you to have grown a whole fucking forest on your shoulder but don’t be making snap judgments about people based on your shite taste in men.” That said, the brownrider snaps about and stalks off in the general direction of the cave she’d pointed out. “Ten marks says there’s a skeleton in there of woman hung by her own tongue.” As for Sikorth’s whereabouts there’s a grunt and a tightly given: “Off to check up on his offspring.”

Ksenia comes to a jerky stop when Cha’el overtakes her. There’s no surprise from the jaded trader, but there is laughter. High, peeling, and full of barbed mirth. “Boyo, I haven’t had nothing but good sex with the men I’ve encountered.” Which seems so at odds with the strong assumptions. “But I’ve seen a lot of men and women come through my wagon, wanting their fortunes told and I’ve seen a lot of men using that,” now her eyes fall to his crotch, brows lifting, “useless sack of meat as a reason for fucking a woman over.” Her expression is sardonic, sarcastic and by the time dark eyes find their way to Cha’el’s face, she’s got a smile as wide as the Black Rock river curving her lips. “I’m pretty sure you probably don’t even know how to use it, and I ain’t interested in teaching.” Skirting around the brownrider at the same time he starts off ends in near collision, but now the trader is grumbling. “Twenty marks says there’s a man there, spiked on his own petard for being a jackass.” The brown’s destination is given a huff. Ksenia is the honey badger, she couldn’t give two marks what a dragon’s gonna do unless he’s about to flame her wagon.

Indignation rises up hot as lava for being tarred and feathered by the very brush Ksenia uses to paint all of male kind in an ill light. Rather than give vent to it, the brownrider’s jaw grinds tightly as he bites back a scathing retort when his manhood is so flippantly brought into question. Stomp, stomp, stomp, crunch, crunch, crunch he goes over the snow softened ice, shoulders hunched and head down in much the manner of a bull about to charge. Suddenly, about twenty paces out, he swivels on a boot heel and comes to a dead stop. “How about we get it over and done with in one standing, hmm?” A dark brow goes up in challenge as arms fold across his chest. “Is there any other way you’d like to insult me? Perhaps call my mother’s virtue into question? Maybe suggest that I fuck goats and drown puppies in my spare time? Or, I know,” mockery drips from each word. “How about that old time favorite that has me turning other men into a cuckold, hmm? You like that one?” Eyes of ocean blue chipped to the frosty hue of the sky above cut tight to cold and lovely features. “Go on, darlin’,” the endearment meant to goad as arms unfold and spread wide to his sides, “take your best shot. The first two are free and then…” cue the cold smirk, “its my turn.”

Followed by an unwanted treasure hunter, Ksenia endures his presence as one would suffer a wart. It just is. Her end goal is in sight, the dark oval of a cave’s entrance. In fact, she can almost forget that she’s got a follower, because she isn’t the one fuming. She’s calculating the chances of finding treasure in an icy cave and whether or not this little journey is going to be worth the hard work – and the crazy company – to even get it. This is all that’s running through her head when Cha’el stops again. This time she draws up short with the exasperated exhale and the folding of her arms across the layers of colorful clothing that protect her chest. One brow quirks. “Honey, I ain’t keeping you here.” Her tone is patient, much as one would address a child. She flicks an uncaring gaze up and down his body and just smirks. That’s right. Rather than pander to his outburst, she smirks and then scoots around him. “Fire your flamin’ arrows at my back, boyo. I’ve got treasure to hunt and calling out your flaccid little wanker isn’t the kind of treasure I’m aiming to find.” What’s that? Words tossed to the wind over her shoulder? That’s right, the trader woman is absolutely leaving his ass behind. If he’ll allow it. She is determined. And also heartless.

Cha’el could care less about treasure. He’s more of the exploring type than the treasure hoarding type. In fact, if there is any treasure to be had, he’d probably have given it all to Ksenia. Would have. Past tense. For just now the thought of shoving the uppity woman into the cave and sealing it off is becoming a most tantalizing idea. Like a big dumb beast that’s just had a bucket of water thrown at it for no reason at all, Cha’el stares mutely at the colorfully bedecked woman for her next set of barbs. Slowly but surely, large thickly gloved hands curl into fists and he can contain it no longer. “You know what? I’m about done being everybody’s punching bag. How ‘bout you go fuck yourself and fall down a hole while you’re at it. I’m outta here.” And with that the brownrider turns smartly about and begins tracking back the way they’d come, temper on short fuse.

“LILY LIVERED HERDBEAST!” Ksenia bellows after him, walking backwards while laughter dances on the wind. “I KNEW IT. LIMP DICK FANCY PANTS.” Did she just issue him a challenge? Of course she did, and it probably would only fuel Cha’el’s ire and send him further away. They’ve walked enough that the base camp is barely a dot on the horizon – the trader had already gone pretty far before even meeting the brownrider – and the cave is almost within running distance if one wanted to run in twenty degree weather. And this might have been the end of their so brief, but so heated encounter because Ksenia whirls on the balls of her feet and pushes onward. It would probably be Cha’el that would notice it first because Ksenia’s too busy laughing. The first dance of the bits of snow on the pre-dawn sweep of ice fields. The rumble of an angry mountain and the eerie stillness that always precedes something bad. High in the peaks of the barrier mountains, something blurry and white is on the move. And while the bulk of the avalanche won’t sweep through the whole valley, a good chunk looks to be priming to fall right near where the trader woman is angling for her cave. The woman is throwing her arms wide and doing a little caper jump for having prodded a ‘fancy pants’ rider, thrilling laughter mingling with the danger on the wind.

“WHATEVER!” Cha’el yells back slicing a hand through the air as he continues to stalk away. “YOU’RE GONNA DIE ALONE A BITTER OLD BITCH!” There, have THAT fortune!! Having made an exit from Igen in a bid to escape woes and frustrations of a personal nature only to encounter a woman seemingly determined to turn him into a pincushion bristling with her barbs, he’s so wrapped up in his own little steaming pot of ‘Fuck the world!’ that it takes him a moment or two to realize that something is off. In fact, it’s the abrupt of arrival of a rather rotund bronze firelizard that alerts the fuming brownrider that something is amiss and gradually steps slow until he comes to a full halt. Batting at the creature dipping and diving about his head, Cha’el turns back in the direction he’d come in and squints against the bright light glinting off of the brilliant fields of white surrounding him. And then, he sees it, movement in the mountains beyond. “Oh. Fuck!” He breathes as a shock of pure horror ices through his veins rendering him immobile for a moment or two and then he’s breaking into a flat out run heading straight for Ksenia and yelling like a madman arms waving. “RUN!! IN THE CAVE. NOW!! MOVE IT, MOVE IT, MOVE IT!!” Parade ground voice bellowing at full volume.

“THE ONLY PERSON BITTER HERE IS YOU, BABA!!” Ksenia yells back, glee infiltrating each harpy-shrieked word. She relishes in her perceived victory, pausing to tug her shawls around herself and tuck her arms into the things before moving forward. Not noticing the coming doom, the trader is lost to her own thoughts. At this point, figuring Cha’el gone, one could almost see the hope of mark signs pulsing in her eyes as she makes her way to the cave. It’s slower here because while it’s not so easy to see, the whole thing is at an incline. Slippery footing nearly gets the woman falling on her ass before picking her way more slowly across the fields. “What?” Whipping around at the sound of Cha’el’s voice, she stands there, dumbly. And her look says it all: this dragonrider has turned crazy. Fumbling with the layers of colorful clothing, the trader produces the wicked gleam of a pointed long-knife. She’s got teeth, this woman. And she’s entirely missed the point of Cha’el’s madman run. Her back is to the mountain, but he is facing forward. The blur is sweeping down the upper passers of the highest peak. The rumble is a dull audible hum at the back of the ears.

“RUN YOU CRAZY BITCH!!” Cha’el yells growing more frantic by the second as she continues to stand there and stare at him. Turns of training and drilling and living with a dragon that has him on PT every damn morning come rain or high water pays off for in no time at all the brownrider has covered the distance. But even he can’t outrun an avalanche and so, slipping and falling hard on his knees up the incline before finding his footing again, his options limited, Cha’el launches himself at Ksenia, tackling her low about the waist in a bid to shove her inside the cave before they’re swallowed up by the rumbling mass of white death on fast approach. He doesn’t unfortunately see the knife she’s holding, the pain that slices into his side momentarily overridden by the surge of adrenaline.

All of a sudden, the crash of Cha’el’s bulk into her less-than bulky self gets a grunt out of Ksenia. The world tumbles head over heels into a blur of grey and white. The cave, luckily, is close enough that their forward momentum is enough to push through into the tomb of the mountain mere seconds before ice and snow fall and slide down this bit of the mountain. Boulders and rocks and other debris are carried with it and with a final loud, CRACK, the entrance is sealed. Somewhere along the way, the knife is lost with a metallic clatter. A hush falls over everything, the outer world muted and muffled. And the inside of the cave is full of the rush of breath until Ksenia recovers her wits. “Faranth’s blazing shell. What was that and for Faranth’s sake, get off me. You’re crushing my kidney, and my leg and my everything.” It’s utter darkness that disembodies her voice, but the jerk of her body when she starts wiggling can be felt. And hey, she might accidentally smack him in awkward spots.

Somewhere in the ass over kettle momentum of throwing the two of them into the cave, Cha’el cracks the back of his head against rock, gets a knee shoved into those very dangly bits Ksenia had been so intent on belittling and an elbow to his solar plexus as she tries to wriggle out from beneath him. A heavy groan is initially all that greets her complaint as he works to stop the crazy tilt-a-whirl of stars careening behind his eyes and then pain flashes in reporting from all quarters, most noticeably the searing slash of agony in his side. “Avalanche.” The brownrider grunts and rolls off to one side, breath hissing from between clenched teeth. “Where the fuck did you get a knife from!?” He hasn’t as yet taken stock of just how bad their situation might be.

Dark, dark, dark. Ksenia can’t see his injuries, but she can feel her own. There might be a light snicker when she accidentally knees him but after the sounds of scrambling, the woman’s voice comes from the darkness. “A woman alone has to protect herself. That’s not the only thing I carried, if your haul and grab didn’t crush everything.” A metallic clink clatters to the floor of the cave, and then another metallic clink. It’s like she’s the bag lady, here. Finally a bubble of light appears with a tiny glow curled in the delicate cup of her palm. It illuminates the lower planes of her features, turns dark eyes into cavernous holes that reflect the light off the wetness of her eyes. Turning around to find where Cha’el is, the trader looks very much like a weirdly perceptive fortune teller. Then she’s shoving the glow at him and saying, “Hold that. I doubt you have a small lantern on you.” That’s when she starts shedding layers and dropping them carelessly where she kneels. Only when the gold chain about her throat glitters when exposed to the light does the belt she wears show the wares she carries tied to her belt. A small lantern, a small pick, and a few other odds and ends. “Never go treasure hunting unprepared,” she smarts off as she uses the flint and steel to light the lantern, giving more glow to the little cave that stretches far into the mountain. That’s when she turns to him and presses her lips together, giving him a glare like it’s his fault. “You’re bleeding, boyo.”

Having pulled a thick glove off in order to unfasten the front of his outer jacket and then the flight jacket beneath, Cha’el gingerly slides his hand inwards. Questing fingers probing along his side come away sticky with blood when suddenly a glow is thrust at him. With a grunt he takes the small ball of light and transfers it to his other hand leaving smears that glow rosy across its rounded surface. “If you’re planning on jumping me,” he states in a pained voice as Ksenia strips off her outer layers, “I have to warn I’m not at my best just now.” A weak joke, dryly spoken. With some effort he manages to push up into a sitting position and after eyeing the woman before him and her Belt of Wonder, he takes in what he can see of their immediate surroundings. “No shit.” Comes the dry retort to his leaking blood. “Funny thing with knives. They tend to do that.” Sardonic. Eyes crinkled at the corners with pain swing back to her. “I wasn’t here to poke around in caves. You were.” So take that. Its all her fault. “What the fuck did you even expect to find in here, huh? Or are old bones some kind of weird trader fetish?” From the moment they’d landed in a tangled heap of limbs, his mind has been reaching for Sikorth but thus far, all he’s gotten back is static infused with a warm glow. “Sonoffabitch.” Cha’el growls under his breath.

Ksenia gives Cha'el a look. "Jumping you is the farthest from my mind," she snipes at him as she winds her shawls back around her body, but she leaves her face and head free with the tumble of espresso hair that hangs down to her waist. Her lantern adds to the rosy glow of the glow she's given him — which, by the way, she makes a grab for it again. "Bones? Baba, I am not looking for bones, I'm looking for treasure. Any fetishes in this place is all you, buddy." When everything is situated and her utility belt once more covered up, the trader gives him a sharp, toothed smile. "Well you are the one that decided to tackle me." Never mind that he saved her life. She's not exactly acknowledging that. "I think you'll live. You're grouchy enough for it. Now," the sudden warmth of smile plays across her features as she even bestows upon him a gentle pat to the knee. "It's been fun, but I'm going to get myself out of here." Jumping to her feet, the trader is more nimble than she looks and with that, she flounces off down the tunnel, hair bouncing and swaying. Did she just ditch his ass? With the light?!

“Good. Because you’re not my type.” Liar. Watching as she re-shawls herself, his observation is an idle one. “You bring a lantern and a pick,” yes he saw those items, “but not proper clothing.” His hand fists over the glow. Nope, not giving it up. “Great forward planning.” A snort followed by a wince of pain greets comment of fetishes. “You’d be up to your pretty arse,” nope he didn’t just compliment her many skirted derriere, “in snow you ungrateful wench.” Yup, grouchy as a bear this one when he’s in pain. That smile almost fools him. Almost but not quite not given how sharp the tongue that sits behind it. “Hey! What the fuck!!” Cha’el protests and with no small amount of effort teeters up to his feet, arm clamped about his side. “Come back here!! You can’t just leave me….” Oh but she has! “SIKORTH!!” He bellows in a roar of frustration, pain and yes, a smidgeon of fear for becoming the next pile of bones to be discovered in turns to come.

It's a paltry glow; Ksenia gave it up with ease. She's got the lantern. Just before she disappears into the deeper end of the tunnel that connects to the back of the cave, she looks back. "You haven't been listening to me, have you? Just like a sharding man. I am hunting treasure and that takes tools. I'm dressed just fine, thankyouverymuch. At least I don't have a stick up my ass." She clucks her tongue at him just before she ducks into the tunnel. "Of course I can." One last look that takes in, well, all of him. A smirk. "What? Afraid to be by yourself, fancy pants?" His bellow for his dragon causes her to trail laughter behind her and then she DISAPPEARS. And all is silent but for the faint patter of feet.

“I’ve been trying very hard not to listen to you but it’s like a fucking dripping tap. Unavoidable and just as fucking irritating!” Cha’el snaps back. “Aye?” He continues on the matter of her clothing. “We’ll see about that when you’re stiff and blue with cold.” Boots scrape over uneven ground as she tries to follow her but in his current state, Ksenia is too quick and all too soon the pool of light from her lantern is swallowed up by the dark. “I DON’T EVEN KNOW YOUR NAME!!” The brownrider yells into the claustrophobic darkness. Not that it would make any difference if he did know it. Maybe he plans to carve it into a rock with the image of a knife run through the accompanying stick figure while he waits to die. Just then, Sikorth’s presence barrels full tilt into Cha’el, blanketing his consciousness with a heat of sensations he’d really rather not have to deal with just now. “Are you fucking KIDDING me!?” Could this day get any worse?

Oh for Cha'el, this day is going to get much, much worse. Much of what he yelled in her direction is ignored, not responded too. That's because Ksenia is long gone by this point — or well, she would have been. Had the stupid tunnel not had that sharp turn and that sudden drop. She can prepare for a lot of things, but random terrain is not one of them. So silence is met at first and then the sudden growl of absolute, utter rage that ends in a high-pitched shriek. Silence. Then: "FANCY PANTS." By the hesitation and the dread that suffuses that cry for help, the trader is loathe to want that pissant's help. "LITTLE HELP HERE." Because Cha'el with his one glow and his personal problems will be ever so helpful. And when he does manage to make his way to where she is, he'll find her dangling from a fissure in the tunnel. Easily jumped if one knows it's there.

Dizzying the unexpected effect of Sikorth gone up to chase glowing tail. So much so that Cha’el rocks back on his heels and almost goes down on his ass again - hard and ruthless this brown in full flight the desire to win at all costs palpable. On the upside, perhaps blood flow will be directed elsewhere rather than the puncture wound in his side. Small mercies. “You fucking BASTARD!” The rider left on the ground and trapped in a cave shouts on a wave of mounting frustration. It is however enough to send adrenaline surging through his veins acting as temporary analgesic. And then, Ksenia’s yell for help breaks through gathering fog. “Awfafuckssake!! WHAT!? Didja chip a nail?” But, he’s a man bred and raised to protect the fairer sex at all costs and so, unclenching his fist to free the small glow’s light he slowly begins to inch down the tunnel she’d darted off into. Stopping a moment to catch his breath and fight back his lifemate’s hold the jagged tear in the floor of the tunnel shows itself in the dim light as do the fingertips of the woman dangling over its yawing maw. “Woman!!” Cha’el growls deep in his throat irritation blurred by a note far more sensual than he’d like as he kneels down and sets the glow to one side. “You are a pain in the ass!”

"Just shut up and help me," Ksenia grumbles as she once again tries to get herself back up over the lip, but the things she's got strapped onto her belt have give her more weight that ends up making the act awkward. "I just need a little leverage," oh it's so grudgingly stated with a dark look given to Cha'el. The lantern was tossed and rolled towards the wall, so the light is skewed with shadows stretching across the walls and streaming across the floor. "Who would have thought a cave tunnel would have a giant hole in it?" she gripes. But rather than focus on herself, she turns the spotlight onto the rider, assuming he helps her up and out of the hole. "Do you often shout at yourself? Are you one of those crazy riders that's gone loopy in the head?" Once free, she gives him a glare and scoops up her lantern. "You look…" The clatter of metal dragged on the stone before she holds it up and shines it in his face. "… your pupils are dilated." IS THE LIGHT BRIGHT CHA'EL?!

“Say, please!” Cha’el shoots back. A rhetorical demand for bracing his knees wide apart, he wraps his hands around her upper arms - Sorry ‘bout the blood, hope that wasn’t your favorite shawl, Ksenia – and hauls back with every muscle straining across his brawny frame. Possibly they land in a heap on the floor once she’s out but the brownrider is quick to scramble to his feet and back away from the alluring lovely currently crowding his vision. Faster and higher Sikorth soars in the skies above, growling and snapping at his competitors. Thicker and faster flows the gilt-rimmed high of dragon lust through Cha’el’s veins, shortening breathing and starting to have very, ahem, obvious effects on the rider. So much so that when Ksenia swings that lantern up into his face, he stares blankly at her for a couple of moments before regaining his wits and jerking his head away with a scowl. “You don’t want to be here right now.” He warns, baritone a silken purr. “Go…” Golden hide a-glow, so close. Almost close enough to touch, to reach for. “Go back…to the cave.” Taunting, teasing. HOT. Skin on fire. “Go NOW!!” He suddenly shouts, features curled about a feral cast as hands clench and unclench at his sides.

Cha'el is like a theater of the interesting and weird with all of his various behavioral changes. "Of course I don't want to be here," Ksenia snaps in utter exasperation and annoyance. "You think I'm purposefully stuck here with you, boyo?" When he turns his head away, she doesn't just step back. She gets right up in his face, squinting at him, "What is wrong with you?" As the lantern is swung away from his face, her eyes happen to fall down and she sputters with sudden laughter. "Are you — is that what I think that is?" She lets a pfft noise out that sounds part snort, part laugh. "You don't scare me, baba." Beat. "You just bled on my favorite shawl, so let's see it. Or jump the hole, but that little display is just making you look foolish." She's a non-rider. She can't possibly understand just what she says and does.

“Woman.” Cha’el’s threatening tone is less so and more slung toward enticing as she gets right up in his grill. “If you don’t step away right now, I won’t be held responsible for what happens…” The sentence isn’t finished. Not when she discovers the evidence of what’s at play and then goes on to taunt. Stabbed or not, the brownrider’s patience and levels of control are bleeding out faster than that which leaks from his side. In one swift movement he’s got a hand around her throat – not in a choking type hold. Far from it – and has Ksenia shoved up against a wall. Now it’s his turn to get up close and companionable with her personal space. “My dragon…” Wingbeats churning frosty air above, wheeling and diving, snapping and snarling, lust sweet and thick as honey, “has decided…to chase…” Breathing becomes quickened, lips are moistened with the tip of his tongue, hers plump with promise, a siren’s call to a man fast losing a battle. “In a goldflight. If he wins…blood on your shawl will be the least of your worries.” That said, Cha’el releases her and takes several steps back, groggy and disassociated in the next moment with where he is and who he is. Man or dragon? One and the same just now.

Ksenia has a mouth on her and is used to being in control rather than being controlled, but even she can be surprised and the sudden grip of his hand about her throat has her eyes widening and her mouth parting. Her personal space is a fluid affair, however, and one that seems to bend and move with her desire. In other words, she's not so put out by the personal space issue. Her pulse flutters like a trapped bird from that brief touch and then he's moving away and the trader gets her wits about her. Eyes narrow. Jaw set in determination. "Oh, nonononono. Don't tell me I got saddled with a lame duck rider. You listen here, you fool. We have to jump across that — " She halts her threat in mid sentence and stalks up to the brownrider. He's so lost to his dragon disassociated that maybe he doesn't see what's coming because bold as brass runs in her blood. With a sharp grip, she catches him by the short and curlies (well, he's got pants on, so) and leans right in. "Stand here the, fool." Like a quicksilver fish, she's dancing away, and turning. "You think I ain't seen no horny male before? Psh! All the same." An evil look, then. "Unless you got you a teeny one. Then I guess maybe not." Is she going for the chasm? Oh hell yes she is.

Lame duck rider? He’ll show her lame duck…. Or maybe not. She might be hot from the little he’s glimpsed beneath all those shawls but wrestling with a wher just to take the edge off is not on Cha’el’s To Do list. Not when there’d likely be hell to pay afterwards. And possibly the loss of an appendage. Probably the one he’s most fond of. All such determination is gone the instant her hand closes about him. A blast of heat is marked by a low groan which is followed in turn by a deep snarl when said grip tightens painfully. “Fucking bitch!” Cha’el hisses and goes after Ksenia intent on making her pay for taking advantage of his rather uncomfortable situation. Of course, he doesn’t stop to think that she’s actually just done him a favor by providing a brief curtain of lucidity. Enough so that he’s able to gather himself and vault over the chasm, skidding a little when boots hit rock on the other side of it. And then, like a great big bear poked for the umpteenth time, shoulders hunched and head down, he’s stalking after his tormentor. “No more mister nice guy,” comes the growled mutter through clenched teeth.

Ksenia is not an easy mark — at least not today. She's given it up for lesser reasons, but they are always her reasons. "Horny bastard," is what she sing-songs back after him, not caring at all that it is his dragon that's causing all the ruckus. She sails across the chasm and tumbles nimbly on the other side, not even waiting to see how he fares. His crashing thud is enough to her ears. "What? This has been you being nice? Why, I do declare." Sarcasm is like honey coating the sharp sound of her words, giving the brownrider a good glare. "Bring it, boyo. But I'm more wily than I look. Now, move your lazy ass." Ksenia in the front? Leading the charge? From the beginning? Why yes. Of course she is. She's even not paying attention to his "fancy pants" threat and presenting her (oh so) vulnerable back to him. "I aim to get out of this dank hole, no thanks to you and your third peg leg." She could be not paying attention, but the chances of her being completely ill prepared for what he has in store is very, very low.

“Fuck you!” Not! Cha’el is in no mood for her shenanigans just now. In pain, trapped in a cave system and driven to the edge of distraction by a brown more wily than Ksenia can ever imagine, all attempts at chivalry have just been dropkicked down that Faranth forsaken hole. On her terms. He’ll just see about that, her last taunt being the final straw that breaks the dragon’s back. The one bellowing his fury in the skies above as the suave Desmeth steals his catch out from under his nose. Long strides, almost a jog, eat up the short distance between them and without allowing her any warning, Cha’el grabs her from behind, thickly muscled arms wrapping about her and pulling her back in against the solid wall of his chest. “Cocktease.” He grates out, in a hot rush of breath against her neck. “You probably wouldn’t know what to do with one if you fell over it.” Teeny-weeny his ass! As may be noted by the tight press of his body against hers. “You’re all talk and bluster. Mouthing off to hide your inadequacies but I see you, trader. I see you! You picked the wrong man to fuck with.” Frustration leeching through from Sikorth drives him onward. “I’m not some wet behind the ears boy you can cow with that sharp tongue of yours.” His mouth drifts down a touch, bristle-framed lips tickling the jut of delicate jaw. “You’ve insulted me, stabbed me, nigh ruined any chances of siring offspring and…I’m still here. Now,” the hard line of his voice raked through with heat lowers to a rumble that vibrates through his chest, “you either find a way to work with me or when Sikorth comes to dig us out, I’m leaving your ass, behind in this Faranth forsaken place. The choice…” Did he just feather a brush of lips to the side of her neck? “Is yours.”

The black curtain falls: the players decide that a dragon's flight occurs, a dragon's death occurs, and it ends with Cha'el having passed out in the middle of, ahem, business. What happens behind the black curtain is anyone's guess… the story resumes with…

When it's all said and done, the woman is quiet and then yells out, "Balls!" in utter and pure frustration. Gone is the happy glow. Now she's got a heavy man partially trapping her and something happened to her ankle on the way down for the pain throbs with each timed heartbeat. Finally, she starts moving out from under him with not-so-pretty grunts. "Useless, useless rider," she mutters until she's free. Yelping in a sudden flare of pain when weight is distributed to the lame leg, Ksenia grits her teeth. "Why did you pass out? I'm just that good huh?" Still wearing the cloak of sex, the trader tries to roll him over. "Stubborn fool. Why didn't you bind this? Gah. Rider men's got brains like spaghetti. Always wanting to rut. Not caring their insides are leaking out." Grabbing up one of her shawls — the already bloody one — she huffs and starts winding it around his cut and belly. Field dressing it so to speak. "That's going to leave an ugly scar." Oddly enough, her tone hints at scars being appealing.

Dead to the world – thankfully not literally so – chiseled chest barely rising and falling with each breath, trousers still tangled about his legs, Cha’el doesn’t so much as grunt in discomfort when Ksenia wriggles out from under him and rolls him over. Nothing. No reaction when she wraps her shawl about his middle and pulls to secure it. Just a limp lump of muscle sprawled on the cold, cold ground. Slowly but surely between their frosty environs seeping through his skin and down into the marrow of his bones turning lips a lovely shade of blue and the anxious mental bellowing of Sikorth to « Wake the fuck up!! » the brownrider suddenly jerks, long limbs twitching as surely as if electroshock therapy had been applied. From the deep haze of comatose bliss filled with the fuzzy blurr of warmth and straining bodies eyes suddenly snap open and in a state of confused panic, he jacks upright into a sitting position only to be hit by pain. “Fuuuck.” Comes the thick groan, brows scowled about a line of heavy bewilderment when initially his brain doesn’t parse his surroundings, the reason for his lack of clothing or the tousled woman crouched nearby. “What.The.Fuck…” he begins in the low growl of a wounded animal, “did you do to me!”

"Right. Because I knocked your ass out with my awesome sex skills." Ksenia's voice is sharp, cutting and sarcastic. She leans down to grasp the actual dress she was wearing but takes time to wind a thin thread of gold chain around her waist, to rest on her hips. A charm — tiny and hard to spot — dangles from it and she adjusts it to be aligned with her belly button. Then she's winding the tangerine colored silk cloth around her body, the dangling charms and bells at the hem making a musical tinkling sound. "You're the useless rider who fainted right in the middle of it. You're also the dumbass rutting male that was too concerned with," her hand waves dismissively, "getting some than in binding your guts. So you're welcome for not letting you bleed out onto the stone floor." She scoops up her utility belt and starts putting back all the layers of her clothing. About the only thing that didn't come off was her thick, furry boots. Until finally, she's back to looking hodgepodge and moves back nearer to him, hands on her hips. "Well?" The loaded questions is presented but her attention moves to the knife she's left where she dropped it. "There you are little bugger," she mutters, scooping it up and turning back on him. "Where were we? Still thinking to teach me a lesson, huh?"

“Sex?” Impossibly blue eyes do the blinkety-blink thing as Cha’el squints up at Ksenia gaze roving over every lovely inch of her body as she begins to dress, the chain and charm clearly of particular fascination given that’s where his attention appears to be riveted. Or perhaps he’s merely affording her the privacy to pull her many layers back on again. And then, it starts to come back to him, the heat and eroticism, the tangled twine of bodies fuelled by the goldflight that had occurred in the skies above their frozen tomb. And he snorts. “Don’t flatter yourself,” the rider gives gruffly back and gingerly pushes up to his feet, trousers hauled back into place over lean hips and refastened. Belt buckled, the bloodied and torn remains of his shirt, its arms still tucked into the two layers of jackets is found and with careful movements, shrugged back into place. There’s a low hiss when fabric slides over gouges raked into his back and a grunt when the high collar of his flight jacket grazes against a tender patch of skin in the crook of his neck. The final penny drops and a slow smile carrying a hint of the feral beast that lurks within peels into place when Cha’el takes a step toward the trader woman. “You bit me.” Baritone free from accusation. “And I didn’t faint. Women faint. I passed out,” there’s a difference in his mind, “because you,” up goes a brow in pointed manner, “stabbed me.” Still a little woozy, hands lift their heels grinding against his eyes. “A dragonpair have died. It uh…it was unexpected.” Brows knit together and then finally, a hint of the man most know him to be emerges. “Are you okay?”

The uncomfortable sensation of an ankle swelling in the tight confines of her boot makes Ksenia more irritable than she'd likely be. Her chin lifts and the fire in her eyes only deepens, but she's also blatant about watching him dress. Seeing the package she just mauled. "You fainted, boyo. Not I." Huffing, she holds the dagger loosely, casually, but with too much experience to ever be labelled as unknowledgeable around the cut of the blade. "I'd bite you again, you get close enough, baba." The smile presented is full of teeth and promise, until his news brings a shade over her eyes. "Guess I'd better get you out of here," yes, her, "else another dragon pair will die and I'll get blamed and exiled to the Western Isle. That or staked in Thread. Southerners are too rules happy at times." She smirks when he hisses at all of her sex-marks, but is wholly unapologetic. The emergence of the chivalry gets her glowering and she pffts at him. "Don't flatter yourself. I'm fine. Like I said, the last rider I had left me with a baby. If I can bear a child, a little bit of rough play isn't going to break me. Now, come one." She grits her teeth and starts walking in the direction she was going before the sudden interlude. Each limping step gets a whistle-whine of inhaled and exhaled breath. Her free hand, the not knife carrying one, uses the wall as a cane. "I don't aim to die in here with you."

The threat of being bitten again does little but draw a wolfish tilt of lips into play. “Promises, promises.” Cha’el blithely retorts and giving up on trying to make what few buttons remain on his shirt line up properly with their corresponding holes in the half dark, simply pulls his hooded outer jacket together and closes the wooden toggles into their loops. “You? Get me outta here? Lady,” he still doesn’t know her name, “I’m not the one who dropped their ass down a hole in the floor.” Oh yes, he remembers it all now. And quite vividly too. IN TECHNICOLOR! Falling comfortably back into sniper mode, Cha’el is drawn up short and for a brief instant he stares at Ksenia as if seeing her for the very first time. “Baby?” Eyes drop to the taut plane of her belly and then flick up again to dark eyes. Whatever lapse had occurred to offer a brief glimpse into the man very few have ever gotten to see, is gone, safely hidden behind the affable mask he’s so good at wearing as he watches her limp off. It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together the result being a heavy dose of guilt. Somehow, between having her up against the wall and then waking up flat on his back on the ground, she’d been hurt. “Liar.” The rider calls it quietly and without so much as a by-your-leave moves in next to her, fitting his good side against hers and wrapping an arm about her waist, taking his chances with the blade she carries. “I don’t aim to die. Period. At least not for a good few turns yet.” He tells her and swings the lantern he’d retrieved up to light the next few steps ahead of them.

"Oh yeah? And I'm not the one that fainted after sex and didn't bind his dumb ass wound and bled all over the place. I might have misstepped but at least I didn't bleed myself dry to rut." Ksenia fires back with sharp, acerbic barb. She remembers it too and still has the well-used ache to her body and the road-rash on her back. Pressing her lips together, she focuses forward and doesn't even comment on the baby part — well no, she can't let that lie. "That tends to happen from a rut, fancy pants. But hey, don't sweat it. If it happens, I'll do with it what I did with the last one." Now that sounds ominous. "I won't bother you with it." It's entirely possible that she's sniping just to snipe or maybe she got a hint of the soft underbelly and is using it to rake her verbal claws into. Huffing, she once more turns away from him, so she's startled when he's there. All arms around the waist and everything. For a moment she looks like she would not be too far from using her knife to open a vein, but even she has to admit some defeat. "You are so annoying." Right, trying to help. It's so last season! The tunnel curves in the dark, and it's colder here than it was over the fissure where the steam of the mountain's volcanic core helped warm their little interlude. Further on, it gets chillier and chillier, and possibly why the woman doesn't end him. He is warm and that makes him good for something.

“That really bothers you doesn’t it?” Cha’el prods an annoying slip of amusement showing through because really, if anyone should be embarrassed, it should be him. “Are you worried I got bored and fell asleep?” Poke, poke, poke. “Or is it just that…” Ksenia’s flippant comment about the result often associated with rutting, as she puts it, has his blood running cold in his veins. “You wouldn’t dare.” One part warning and one part uncertainty for he doesn’t know her from a bar of soap to know if she’s the kind of woman to do such a thing. But he’s already revealed to much and so the matter is left to lie in the dark tunnel behind them. For now. A snort is fashioned for her grumble as they limp along, a pair of decrepit explorers rather than intrepid. Slowly, slowly careful to keep an eye on the lay of the ground, they follow the natural curve of the tunnel, the cold seeping through even the thick layers of jackets the rider wears. Silence save for the uneven fall of their boots and the drip-drip of water somewhere far off to their right is broken when Cha’el comes to an abrupt halt. Standing still, head cocked in the creepy manner of a rider communicating mentally with his dragon he glance off to their left and then up at the rough ceiling of rock above them. “Sikorth has found an opening. He says he thinks where we are now, should lead to it. He’s waiting for us.”

"Nope," Ksenia denies, "I just find it funny that you're talking shit about me falling down a hole when you're the one who didn't have the stamina to keep up with me." Gloating? Hell yes. "I wouldn't dare what?" The unanswered question as they wander through the tunnels is left to lie until the end. Dark eyes narrow at Cha'el after his "message" from Sikorth but that's not what falls out of her mouth. "Don't I dare what, fancy pants?" The challenge is given in this cold tunnel, and even though the pain in her ankle isn't exactly feeling good, she's leaning away from his side in order to attempt to get in his face. At five foot six, it's not exactly going to work, but she's got lady balls, that's for sure. "Exactly what do you think you're going to order me to do, dragonrider?" Being saved be damned. The tunnel does start to slope upwards, but there's something niggling in the back of the mind. Something they're missing. Maybe a feeling, maybe it's the silence, or maybe there's something to be heard that can't be over the angry sound of the trader's voice. The trader who has still not introduced herself.

“Its not like I planned it.” Cha’el grouches. “Dragons have a habit of being very inconsiderate about when they decide to go up.” There’s a pause and a sly sideways slip of eyes. “And its not like I left you high and dry, darling.” Pointedly knowing the smirk that pulls within the neat frame of beard. But then she’s rounding on him and challenging his earlier comment. For a long time he does nothing but stare intently at Ksenia, grappling with revealing too much to a complete stranger. An intensely private man on some levels, Cha’el isn’t one that easily opens up. But finally pursed lips relax enough to allow a low grate of speech. “Tell me you’re not the type of woman to throw away a life just because it might inconvenience you in some way.” The slope of tunnel and whatever they’re missing not currently a blip on his radar.

"What I do with my own body is my business rider. You don't even know me or know who I am," Ksenia snaps, not intending to ever let anything slip. "Have it, keep it, sell it, get the old woman to give me herbs to end it — if it's all same to you, it's my decision. You're, what? What are you exactly?" She leans in, the flash of teeth in the lantern's light (just how did he manage to sneak that one past her? Must be the pain in her foot making her dim) is sharp, "Have a bit of affection for your flight-lust partner do you? Psh. Spare me the pretend care. We get out of here, we're going our separate ways, you and I." She, of course, has the audacity to try to end the conversation there and limp forward with the hiss of air between the teeth. Even trying to drag him along. Because surely, she has the final say. Surely, right? Life works that way?

Life does not work that way. Not in this instance and not with something so deeply personal at stake. “Wrong.” Cha’el growls appalled by the options she’d tossed out there as if a babe-in-arms were no more than an item to be traded or discarded. “I don’t give a fuck what you do,” hard blue eyes flip up and down her many layered form that he’d so recently had the pleasure of enjoyin, “with your body. Until,” a pause allowed for emphasis as he dips and leans in too so that they’re almost nose to nose, “it involves me and my contribution to creating life. Then, it very much becomes my business.” And then Ksenia is trying to trounce off. “Suits me.” Cha’el calls after leaving her to limp along on her own for a bit. “But hear me now. If there’s a babe in the making, I’m going to be so far in your face you’ll be wearing a beard.” Final say is HIS!! The tread of boot over rock a little heavier and close to stomping, the light held a little lower almost as if he wills her to trip over something in the dark ahead of her.

Ksenia is silent. As silent as nothing good. She stands strong when he gets in her face and doesn't even comment on the sanctity of her body. And when she nearly stumbles because of her damn ankle, she whirls around. Fire in the eyes. She hisses, spits. "As if," the disdain she gives him is palpable, "You would ever know. Do you know where I live? Do you know where my caravan comes to rest. I get out of these caves and you'll never see me again. Maybe someday you'll see a little mirror of your face and maybe someday you won't. But you sure as Faranth won't know." And that (to her) is totally the last word, marred somewhat by the whimper that escapes when she stumbles. "This is all your fault, you boar. You broke my ankle." Or sprained it. Same difference, right?

“Don’t be so sure,” Cha’el snaps back on whether he’d be able to find out or not, not in the least bit cowed by the hissy-fitting woman. If anything there’s a brief flash of heat ignited in stormy blue eyes. “There’s more than one way to skin a feline, darling.” He’d sling more at her but like any well-bred man all it takes is that whimper of distress to undo him. “If you weren’t so fardling stubborn,” he grouses, ignoring the lancing throb in his side, “with your head shoved so firmly up your pretty backside that you go storming off every time you hear something you don’t like.” He chides, moving back in against her side with a sigh, “Maybe we wouldn’t be stuck in here to begin with.” Because its totally her fault. “Cha’el.” A few careful steps of silence follow as he guides them up the slope of the tunnel . “My name is Cha’el.”

"I am sure of everything," Ksenia hisses, tossing her head with eyes spitting anger at the audacity of the rider. "Oh no. Don't you dare blame this on me. You didn't have to follow me. You didn't have to join me in this failure of a treasure hunt. I would have made that cave just fine," yeah right, but the lie that slips off her tongue so easily speaks of how easily she does lie. If he knew her better (or at all) there are markers for her lie-telling, but they aren't visible to him yet. "You ran into my knife, and then didn't bind the fucking thing. So don't blame that on me. That's on your — what are you doing?" She almost wants to slap him away. It's in the tension of her body and the fire in her eyes and the anger of her expression but as much as it galls her, she needs him. Grinding her teeth, she lifts her chin. And at first doesn't say anything. Silence. Silence. "Ksenia." The tooth-sharp smile is flashed, piranha sharp: "Nice to fuck you Cha'el. I've had better." Lie or not, she needles him.

“I was leaving,” Cha’el grinds out; the frustration and anger of earlier rising back up again. “You were going to get buried in an avalanche. So you’re fucking welcome!” Not. The comment about not having bound his wound from the get-go is conveniently glossed over. Silence meets frosty silence until she gives her name and goes on to taunt him further. “Fuck you.” He growls, his confidence holding firm under the insult leveled at his prowess. One woman’s snap and snipe isn’t about to put a dent in it. Not exactly at his physical best and taking as much of Ksenia’s weight as he can, the going is slow and breathing is rough, misting the air in front of him. “What did you do with it?” The question quietly asked as he concentrates on putting one foot in front of the other might seem to come out of left field.

"Been there, done that." Ksenia's snap is more bluster at the moment given the weight on her ankle. The tunnel is getting shorter and narrower, but definitely going up. Quite possibly the grey-cast might be light from outside leaking into the mountain. "None of your damn business is what I've done with it. Sell it, give it away, stash it someplace, what do you care for some other bronzerider's get? The man doesn't even know nor will he ever." she retorts, teeth audibly grinding now, though she's getting tired and cranky and is in pain so the name of the kid's father could be tricked out of her, possibly. And perhaps she would have tormented him with more horrible things she could do to a baby (like abandonment), but at that moment the mountain has made known that it's angry, the rumbling felt in the tunnel and the rocks that fall. If the end of the tunnel is near, they'd best get their butts moving or get really trapped in this forsaken place. "What's that?" She draws up when she hears the rumble. "Uhhhh… that doesn't sound good."

Cha’el ignores the first in favor of the next and snaps a sharp look to the woman tucked against his side his breathing becoming more labored the wearier he becomes. “Who is he? This bronzerider?” He demands to know in a tight tone, the hand about her waist tightening slightly, fingers digging in a little more than he intends. The light at the end of the tunnel – haha – doesn’t escape notice and is enough to quicken a stirring of hope that they might just get out of this alive. That is until the mountain starts to complain about their presence. “Shit. I think things are about to get a lot worse.” Grimly noted. She’s tired, he’s tired but despite the cut to his side and how energy appears to leak from it with every breath, he still has two feet that both work. Without giving it a second thought, he thrusts the lantern at Ksenia and scoops her up into his arms tucking her in against his chest and makes a dash – if you can call it at that – for the beckoning silvery light in the distance.

"K'a— " But the name is only partially given because that's about when Cha'el takes it upon himself to rid her of her womanly freedoms and scoop her up into the warm cage of his arms. "Hey!" This yelp comes with the numb-finger fumble of her lantern, grasping it before it shatters to the ground. She would protest — and if the black daggers of her eyes to his face were any indication, this undignified position is not to her liking — but even she is sensible and knows she can't run. So it's with just a second of hesitation before she loops a strong arm around his neck and watches the end of the tunnel. It is an end — their end of the line of tunnels, at least. And they arrive just in time for part of the tunnel to collapse behind them. The exit itself is small, however. And will take some squeezing to get through, but one things for sure, they can't both go through the hole at once. Skies beckon and so, too, does fresh air.

Unaware that the name given is clipped off, Cha’el files it away as being ‘K’ay’. A man he’s surely going to be attempting to track down after all of this is over. There is no retort to the indignant yelp from Ksenia for with teeth gritted against the renewed surge of pain for the strain set to a wound that probably will require stitching, he’s focused on getting them the thread out of there. Reaching the narrow slit in the rocks, frustration peels into place when he sees how small it is. Indecision is yanked away seconds later when the tunnel collapses behind them. With strength waning to little more than a wobbling spasm of muscle, the rider dump-drops the trader back to her feet and shoves her toward the exit. “Go! Get out!!” He orders and glances behind them as another ominous rumble reverberates through the mountain’s belly.

Ksenia does not like being given orders, but she does not like dying even more. Indecision causes her to hesitate, and as fickle and nasty as she may seem herein lies a conundrum of the spirit. Rather than wiggling through the hole and saving her own skin, she's pushing at the rocks, sending little ones shooting out of the hole. "We'll make it bigger." The look that's cast wildly back over her shoulder towards the collapsed tunnel after the ominous rumble shakes the mountain again shows just a hint at the fear she must surely be filling. To cover her concern, she mutters, "I can't be accused of leaving the useless rider behind to die. They'd string me up." With a whimpered grunt as the effort pushes on her ankle, she sends another rock through the opening. Chiseling it bigger and bigger. At least big enough to wedge his broad shoulders through. "You're bleeding again." Did he ever stop? That's the point that she ducks and scrambles over the lip of the opening and tumbles out into the frozen tundra with a startled yelp of pain.

With a hand pressed to his side and the scarf wound about it beneath the layers of clothing, brows hook up in surprise. “Why do you even care whether I get out or not?” Cha’el tosses out, catching on to what she’s doing and following suit, grunting as a particularly stubborn rock refuses to give up its place of rest. “Ah. Exile.” Cold realization dawns and lips purse. She doesn’t care whether his ass gets buried or not, she cares whether hers will bear the cost of a dragonrider lost. “Am I?” Sardonic for the dark stain pooling wider across his outer jacket further ruining what her knife had already done. “I hadn’t noticed.” Once she’s out, he’s right on her heels, almost getting stuck at one point when his shoulder snags on a rock jutting outward but with a kick of feet he’s able to squirm free and rolls down the short slope of ice and snow. And there he lies for a few moments with arms spread to his sides and staring up at the sky. Relief morphs into a chuckle and a chuckle into a laugh ragged with exhaustion along the edges.

In that last moment before her duck through the hole, the look she gives him gave lie to her words. Yet it's brief enough that Cha'el could convince himself he imagined it. For once out on the ice, the trader is rolling around in gleeful abandon, locks of espresso hair halo'd about her head as she revels in pure, unadulterated freedom. Roses paint her cheeks and laughter swells up at the same time as the rider's does, but something coaxes her attention. She looks Cha'el's way and frowns. Again, hesitation seems to drive against her better judgement when she's scooting towards him. Without even saying anything, and even batting away his hands if he tries to interfere, she's yanking away the tattered remains of his shirt and pulling away the blood-soaked cloth of her scarf. "Mmmph." Teeth clack in irritation. "You need stitches, if my guess is correct." But now they're in the daylight and seeing is everything. Frowning, she fumbles in the depths of volumous skirts to produce a little pouch of travel herbs. Spitting in her hand she wets the foul stuff and winces. "Gah. I swear grandmother makes this more horrid each time I ask her to. What's the woman put in this? Dead cats?" Mutter, mutterings. Ksenia's bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired, especially when she all but slaps her hand on the wound — or that's her intent, unless he stops her. "Staves off infection," comes the grumbling mutter. Grudging.

It takes but a small turn of head to the side to catch sight of Ksenia rolling about on the snow dusted ice and for the briefest of moments the smile Cha’el turns on her carries a hint of fond warmth. There and gone again when he reminds himself of the verbal claws and barbs that come with this particular feline. The teeth he can deal with. The teeth..Not going there! Gaze returned to the clear expanse of sky and the dragon circling lower and lower trumpeting his relief, he misses the gathering of lithe frame that precedes being pounced. For an instant, he’s struck by the ridiculous notion that she means to finish him off with that knife of hers and immediately tries to roll away. But exhaustion marks him not quick enough and before he knows it she’s diving through the layers of his clothing. “I knew you couldn’t keep your hands off me.” He taunts, hissing when she pulls her blood soaked scarf away from his side and then recoiling in horror when she spits into her palm and declares the herbs to be a concoction of dead cat. “Just shove the knife in, I’d rather die quick than slowly rot away from trader poison.” Cha’el grates through teeth gritted against the pain. “FUCK!!” He bellows for the firm clap of hand to the wound, abdominal muscles contracting as he jerks. Panting he turns a furious look onto Ksenia which softens the longer he looks at her images from back in the tunnel flitting in merry taunt behind his eyes. Just then, Sikorth lands in a flurry of raised snow, talons finding purchase in the thick ice beneath. Prowling over the big brown lowers his enormous wedge-shaped head and staaaares at the trader woman hunched over his rider.

"Riiiiiiiight," Ksenia rolls her eyes at him, unaware of his previously softening looks, for when her eyes turn back to stare at his face it's with all the suffering of a woman with a yowly man. "Because you leaking blood out of your side is a real turn on for me." Sarcasm drips like acid from her tones, a little too sharp to mask the fact that she just cared for his ass. "Stop squirming and for Faranth's sake, stop acting like a wounded child. You're a man," she glances down at Master Longstaff and raises her brows a touch before her gaze flicks to his face, "Act like it. And Faranth's sake stop yelling." Pause. "You big baby." With a glower she leans in and blows real hard on the dressed wound, muttering, "Forgot it stings a little and it won't kill you. My grandmother is the best healer in the caravan. Won't help your pretty hide much. You're looking at a nice, good scar here." Sikorth's arrival is only seen from the corner of her eye and her reaction is instantaneous when she doesn't immediately equate him to a dragon. Her knife is whipped out at the same time she swivels in place bumping her bad ankle with a tortured yelp. This would be the point where she brandishes the knife to that giant head. Act first, think later. As the situation sinks into her awareness, the trader clears her throat awkwardly. "Well. Looks like your ride has arrived, fancy."

Despite the searing pain in his side and the fact that he’s not yet sure she doesn’t mean to poison him, Cha’el manages to set her with a deep smirk. “You weren’t complaining about a bit of blood earlier.” Brat. Then she’s chiding him and calling his manhood into question and in the manner of the child label she’d slapped him with, the rider scowls at her. “Then stop hitting me, you cruel wench.” Less heat more pout to those words. As for scars he really doesn’t seem to care much merely uttering a grunt for her observation for it’ll merely match those across his knuckles, the one on his butt (don’t ask) and the few peppered across his back. The instant Ksenia rounds on Sikorth the dragon lets out a heavy chuff of draconic breath, all old meat and sulphur from chewing firestone. Is he laughing at her? “He says, a woman with your level of bravery should be on a fighting dragon not wasting her time trying to fight a dragon.” Cha’el relays with sliver of amusement crept into his baritone. “If you’re done torturing me, that happens to be your ride too, darling. Unless of course you want to freeze to death trying to limp out of here.”

"It's not the blood, you oaf. It's the fact that you— pfft. Never mind." An imperious hand waves the argument away. Then the brown's breath hits her in the face. "Auuugggggh," Ksenia gags, backing up enough to almost fall across Cha'el (luckily missing the wound), but she doesn't drop her knife. "His breath is foul and I'm not interested in being a dragonrider. Besides, I'm past the Candidate age anyway. Never got Searched. I'm happy being just me in my head." The knife disappears into her layers of clothing, a deft hand at knowing where her hidden treasures hide. Slapping him (to prove the point that she can just hit him and really just to be doing the opposite of what he wants) on the lower belly, perilously close to where things get really interesting, she bites her teeth at him, "I am sweet as cherry pie and I am most certainly not your darling, boyo." With a mantle of hauteur drawn around her for the wounded pride of not getting back to where she wanted to be on her own power, the trader stands. The spot where she cracked her temple against the stone earlier leaks a little, matting into her dark hair. More easily hidden in the dark of the tunnel, but blares a red-black in the full hit of Rukbat. With certainty and tattered pride, she states quietly, "I can't get on him."

A brow cocks upward in response to her first, the knowing smirk that peels into place all reply Ksenia will get on the matter of blood and turn-ons and the likes thereof. “OOF!” Cha’el grunts when she almost goes scrambling over his prone form. “If you want a repeat performance, out here isn’t the best of choices.” Yeah, he went there, uttering a low growl at the slap to his belly and pushing up first to a sitting position and then to his feet once he’s gotten his outer jacket refastened. Only then does he notice the injury to her temple and a heavy frown drops into place. “Fuck. You’re a stubborn woman! Why didn’t you tell me you’d cracked your head.” He grouses lifting a hand to carefully lift away strands of blood matted hair. “Don’t move.” The rider orders and goes for a carrysack attached to Sikorth’s strapping. Yes, yes, if he’d just removed it before his dragon had taken flight. Hindsight is an exact science. A small flask is extracted along with short-sleeved shirt (only slightly worn and thankfully not too sweaty). Tracking back to where Ksenia is the flask is uncorked, the pale gold liquid (rum by its scent) poured onto a section of the garishly colored fabric and, if she’ll not duck away, Cha’el begins to proceed to clean what he can of the blood away. “Sikorth will lay down. And I’ll help you,” comes his distracted reply as he cleans her wound with probably more gentleness than his size and previous demeanor might suggest he would. “And he wasn’t trying to Search you. He was merely impressed by your mettle.” He adds.

"Hah, you wish, baba. You want another shot at me, you'll have to work harder than that, boyo," Ksenia's look could wither a vine (and other things), but there's an edge of exhaustion that's creeping into even her sharp tongue, dulling its barbs but the heated challenge is there in her dark eyes all the same. "It's a paltry cut. My ankle hurts worse than my head," how pretty the lies that come from her cheery mouth. In truth, too many things hurt and not in the good way either. Dubiously does she watch him, "Is that a stinky shirt?" asked with the curl of her lip, but she does submit to his ministrations. If grudgingly. Very, very grudgingly. All the while dark eyes bore frustrated, tired anger into him. It's good that his tone is distracted, because it keeps the shreds of her pride and control from slipping any further than she's already allowed. Plus it makes it less pity on his end and more function. A hiss of inhalation comes when he inadvertently gets the tender part of the cut. "Careful!" she bellows, leaking that exhausted irritation. "Oh." Like someone is fish-hooking the words from her throat, the trader just barely coughs them up. "Well then. Tell him he's got excellent taste in people." She folds her arms tightly across her chest, trying to hold onto her frown but it slips a little with all the care he's giving to her cut, which is a gash at her temple near the hairline. It's more bluster than real damage, though it stings like a bitch and she probably has a mighty headache to go with it for there's a knot beneath it. Mutinously, she gives no quarter to softness and just glares. Mutiny and defiance seem to be what's holding her upright and she's much too stubborn to ask for help.

Cha’el has fallen to silence as he cleans the cut on her temple as well as he can, flicking an unreadable look to those dark eyes of hers for her first. No retort is forthcoming. None to her complaint about the use of his shirt either just an apologetic grimace when he accidentally swipes across a tender section. Job done as best he can be, he eyes the cut and then holds the flask out to Ksenia in silent offer of a drink. Finally, he speaks, mouth curled about a tired smirk. “Of course he has, impressed to me.” He says of his dragon and his taste in people. The signs of exhaustion and pain aren’t hard to read in the feisty trader, mirrored as they are within himself and so, with the bulky mottled brown flattening himself to the ice as much as is possible for such a large creature, Cha’el tucks his bloodied shirt back into the carrysack and holds out a hand to her. “Shall we?” So politely done, he might be asking her to dance at a Lord’s fancy shindig.

"Mmmph." Ksenia frowns at that verbal trap she fall into, cutting a sharp look to the brownrider for that bit of trickery. Entirely unfair of him. Sikorth can flatten himself all he wants, he is still much larger than a human girl of middling height. Bravado is in short supply so for once since this entire adventure started, the cracks show the apprehension and doubt that lurks beneath the sharp tongue of hers. That gaze transfers to the offered hand and as hers raises, the woman looks like she could disdain help and scurry up the side of that brown mountain herself but for her foot. So with slow, grudging inch by inch, she finally lays her hand in his. "Yeah. I'm ready. It's cold and miserable and," sharp, almost hysterical laughter follows, "I don't think I can get my boot off the ankle."

With Ksenia’s hand in his, larger hand wrapping about her smaller one, Cha’el manages to get himself up onto the forepaw being offered and assists the trader to do so too. But then he stalls on how to get them both up to that thick neck of Sikorth’s. He could try giving her a boost but with her ankle as badly sprained as it is, she’ll likely not be able to use the loops in the strapping to make her ascent. Pausing at her unhappy declaration he turns a long look onto the slender woman and without warning, suddenly pulls her in close and wraps her up in a hug. He must have a death wish or something. Or maybe it is he that simply needs that close human contact for a brief moment. “We’re gonna have to cut it off,” he says of her boot as he draws away again. “But not now. You’re gonna need it Between.” Chivalry once again comes into play, the type he’s likely to pay dearly for. “Hold on here,” a loop of strapping just about her head is indicated. “I’ll mount and then pull you up.” Somehow. Letting go of her hand, the brownrider, biting down on the twinges of complaint from his side, slowly makes his way up the side of his dragon, using his legs more than upper body strength to do so. Finally astride earth hued neckridges, he leans down sideways and with brows stitched together, once again holds out his hand. This is going to hurt. Like a bitch!! But gallantry dictates that as the male of the pair, he be the one to bear the brunt of the pain.

With a grunt of pain, Ksenia does make it onto Sikorth's forearm, squeezing his hand tightly as leverage. It's when they linger there on the brown's arm that the trader woman glances around a little curiously. And a little uneasily, if truth be told. That's how he manages to surprise her and engulf her in that hug. The sudden press of her face against a chest that evokes a very different memory in the recent past and being flooded with the scent of the rider edged in the sharp, coppery hint of blood leaves Ksenia paused in surprise. It also leaves her without the tension humming through her muscles, catching her in that moment of distracted curiosity. Until her face is in his chest and she stiffens like a board. This is the only reason that Cha'el is still among the living (well and she's not a true killer here) when suddenly she's thrashing like a wet feline. "Who are you? You witless oaf!" She stomps on his foot, but given that most of her weight is on her good foot, she forgets and uses her injured foot. And howls with rage and pain. "Look what you did!" Chivalry be damned, she's hopping around like a fish and swatting away any effort to help. At least until she finds him atop the brown. Holding his hand out. Glaring darkly at him, she hisses a stubborn, prideful, "Fuck you," and with gritted teeth grasps the straps and tries to one-foot her way up. Beneath her breath, cursing the 'rutting dragonrider' the entire way and hoping his third 'peg leg' withers off because it was too tiny to be bothered with in the first place. Unfortunately, her plan of NOT taking his help ends with her tangled in the straps, having barely moved. "If you laugh at me, I will open a vein." Weakness is not to be tolerated! She LOATHES weakness.

Truthfully, Cha’el had expected some or other retribution for that hug but when it did come, he’d been totally taken by surprise, the shock and swift bite of pain that had crossed his features, probably comical until they’d drawn about a heavy scowl with a sailor’s curse falling from his lips. Now, atop Sikorth and leaning out sideways so that the knife wound to his side stretches sending a fresh leak of blood through the herbal poultice, lips draw back in a mocking sneer for Ksenia’s hissed cuss. “Just did.” And the brownriding bastard dares to smirk down at her. Not only that, features have the gall to soften when she gets tangled up and requires further help. Not laughing, no, but for some reason, fondly appreciative of the snap and snark that goes the independence the woman appears to wear about herself like a second skin. HOW does he KEEP getting himself tangled with people that most would avoid like the plague!? Tightening the grip of his hand about hers, teeth grit against the strain, Cha’el jerks his chin to the straps she’s tangled up in. “Let ‘em go and when I count to three, put your good foot against Sikorth’s side and push away so that I can haul you up.” The idea being to make use of a sort of pendulum motion while she’s pushed out in the air.

Huff. Huff. Ksenia knows she's losing this battle and swallows thickly so that when she tilts her head back to give him the full force of her glare, the pale hue of the oval of her face makes her dark eyes even darker. They narrow when he smirks at her and with a sharp smile, she can't help herself from adding, "And then you fainted." He'll never live that down. She does give a brief nod because the amount of energy to sustain anger and hold onto the straps is not a never-ending resource. "Don't bleed out up there." Why it could almost be caring. Closing her eyes, her chin falls back against her chest as she moves her free hand to grasp his too. Biting her lip, she once more looks up at him, and there's a certain amount of (grudgingly given) trust shining in her dark eyes. Trust in him not just dropping her over the side of his dragon. "I'm not getting any younger here." A snappy response to get a move on with the counting!

Huff. Huff. Ksenia knows she's losing this battle and swallows thickly so that when she tilts her head back to give him the full force of her glare, the pale hue of the oval of her face makes her dark eyes even darker. They narrow when he smirks at her and with a sharp smile, she can't help herself from adding, "And then you fainted." He'll never live that down. She does give a brief nod because the amount of energy to sustain anger and hold onto the straps is not a never-ending resource. "Don't bleed out up there." Why it could almost be caring. Closing her eyes, her chin falls back against her chest as she moves her free hand to grasp his too. Biting her lip, she once more looks up at him, and there's a certain amount of (grudgingly given) trust shining in her dark eyes. Trust in him not just dropping her over the side of his dragon. "I'm not getting any younger here." A snappy response to get a move on with the counting!

Rather pleased with himself for having managed to get a verbal jab in, Cha’el’s features collapse about a scowl when the passing out bit is brought up again. No, he’ll never live that one down, his ego rather quite dented by the fact. “I’ll do my best not to.” He snaps back on bleeding out. “I wouldn’t want to give you the satisfaction. Grumpy, grouchy bear! The count begins in short order, his hand tightening and muscles bulging beneath the fit of his jacket. “Three!” There’s a grunt as Ksenia sails away from Sikorth’s side followed by a heavy, “Fuck me!” When it comes time to fight gravity and haul her up behind him, the twist of upper body sending a jagged sear of white hot pain knifing through him as surely as if she’d just dug her blade back in and twisted it. With a groan, the brownrider collapses forward, hunched over a neckridge as he fights back the wave of associated dizziness, his hand still tightly clasped in hers. One minute and then two go by in which she might assume he’s passed out, again, and then slowly Cha’el pushes himself upright. “You okay back there?” Baritone rough and scratchy, barely above a strained whisper. Beneath them, Sikorth gathers powerful limbs to rise and swings his massive head around to eyeball the female, faceted eye a swirling orb of mystery and warning. Hurt his rider further and the flight back to Southern won’t be fun for a novice.

Ksenia isn't a sack of potatoes, she does help as much as she can. Scrambling to haul herself onto the space behind him, panting with her own exertion. Then he's collapsing forward and for a single instant the trader experiences a moment of pure, unadulterated terror at having killed a rider and being stuck on the back of the dragon for a one-way ticket between. This moment is exhibited in the sudden choking cry that comes from strangled lips and the tentative touch of her hand to the middle of his back that comes just before he shows signs of life. Sikorth is treated to a pale, drawn face and tightly squeezed eyes. When Cha'el responds, Ksenia lets out a startled yell. Lips press together to regain composure before eyes open wide once more. "I'm fine. You aren't." All that terror is funneled into impotent ire as fingers fumble once more with his jacket, which she's trying to lift up from behind. "If you die on me and send me between, I will personally come back and haunt your bones with harpy cries until you can't stand it." She's rambling, now, but she's also trying to feel where she tied the scarf round the wound. Checking for the tell-tale presence of blood; fresh blood. "You shouldn't be taxing this wound." It's a useless reprimand and she knows it. But what she can do is unwind another scarf and shove it against his wound before tucking the jacket around it again. Just for good measure, she glares at Sikorth. But she's cranky.

Cha’el might once again be hovering on the brink of black oblivion but he’s not that far gone so as not to be aware that he’s not the only one sporting injuries. “Liar.” He gives back weakly and then twitches a hand lifting to shove hers away when she goes to wind another precious layer of her warmth about his middle. No. That simply won’t do. But she’s quicker than he is and soon has the scarf in place. In compromise and with pained movement, he shrugs awkwardly out of his outer jacket and will attempt to pass it back to her, sticky with blood and all. “Put it on. You’re gonna need it.” Ksenia is told in a gruff voice. Still having his flight jacket on, the singular belt attached to the straps (for he’d not expected to have a passenger) is next to be passed back. “And put that on too. Make sure it’s secure or you’ll fall off and be left Between.” Yup, he’s scratching at that scab of fear he’d picked up in her voice and snappish comments. As for Sikorth, wide sails are snapped open, flexed and tucked back in again, hindquarters bunching in preparation for launch. “Where to?” Cha’el thinks to ask of where to deposit his beautiful tormentor.

The jacket is taken without comment and slipped into. The cold has seeped through her clothing and has started to chill her bones. Not to mention, Ksenia has a headache the size of the Southern Continent, but that's nothing compared to what she felt on his side. Lips still press into a thin line, but the belt is dutifully clipped onto her person (with maybe an extra loop). Silence comes from behind Cha'el. Silence that is probably ominous since Ksenia has had something to say about just about everything since this whole thing started. Maybe she's thinking of what the best response of where to tell him. "Where is your belt?" Finally the silence is broken. "I think you need help more than I, Cha'el." So sparingly does she use his name it sounds foreign in her trader-infused accent. She presses her hand on the bundle she got up under his jacket, her hand lost in the sleeve of his. "Southern Weyr is as good a place as any." She seats her seat rigidly, but when those wings open and the hindquarters (dragons are tricky in the back) hunker down in preparation of takeoff, she scoots closer to Cha'el and the broad expanse of his back. It seems that the novice is struggling a little acclimating to the act of riding a dragon.

That silence is indeed interpreted to be ominous and is enough to have Cha’el turning his head over his shoulder, body twisting slightly just to make sure that Ksenia hasn’t herself passed out. Relief smoothes some of the pain etched crinkles from his brow when he finds her still conscious, brows tilting upward slightly when she actually goes on to exhibit concern for his wellbeing. “Don’ need one. I’m fine.” He tells her, words slightly slurred. “Been flying for nearly 12 turns now.” Male pride insists he add. “Southern.” Echoed with a slow nod of head as he turns back about and fists his hands about the strapping running beneath his butt and thighs, the press of that slender hand to the wadding of fabric against his side drawing an odd expression into place. One that given he’s now facing forward, goes unseen. “Hold on tight.” The last words from the brownrider before his dragon suddenly launches straight up into the air like an arrow loosed from a brow. At the last moment when it appears they might fall back down to the ground below, enormous wings unfurl, their delicate sails filling with air and with a few mighty beats they draw even higher. “Count to five and don’t freak out. Concentrate on your heartbeat.” Cha’el thinks to tell the woman wrapped about his back and then its nothing but a deep well of sensory deprivation that might seem like it drags on forever before they suddenly burst free and out into the sultry air over the Southern Weyr.

One thing Cha'el doesn't have to tell her more than once is to hold on tight; one hand still holds the bundle of cloth tightly against his side, but the other arm slings around the other side of him, fingertips pressing into the hard planes of his stomach, digging into the cloth of jacket and tattered shirt. When it almost seems like they're going to fall, Ksenia presses her face into his back not caring if she appears weak. "You're injured you fool, of course you should — don't you ever have passengers? What if you slip and fall and — " Ferry her straight to her death, is an internal worry that doesn't show through exactly. But whatever she was going to say is cut off when they go between and Cha'el gets blessed silence. When they re-emerge over the sultry Southern jungles, Ksenia has a death grip on him, plastered up against his back like another article of clothing. She is concentrating on her heartbeat, and on her breathing, and on trying not to let out a scream of terror. Deep, deep breaths. Still silent, it takes a long time before Ksenia has collected her thoughts and her composure. And realize just how close she's crowded in on him. That's quickly remedied with the release of the hand around his non-injured side and she scoots back. And clears her throat. She doesn't stop her pressure on his wound, however. "You can put me down there," imperious tone to cover her behavior, the trader points to a clearing that's not quite in the weyr proper.

Cha’el is silent, the slow rise and fall of his chest expanding and contracting with breath akin to that of someone asleep, likely felt by his passenger given how closely pulled against him she is. “No.” He finally replies to the question she’d jabbed at him about carrying passengers before being engulfed by the numbing experience of Between. “Not often enough to…” Pain begins a fresh assault after the trauma added to injury from betweening and nausea rises thick in his gut. Uh oh? The brownrider clears his throat solidly and gives a small shake of head to clear his vision. “Warrant going about with a double set of….I don’t…feel…so good.” He croaks and immediately Sikorth banks and angles downward sharply to the clearing pointed out below hopefully not adding too much further to the trader woman’s terrifying experience of dragonflight. “How is your…” Ksenia had hurt something but he’s struggling to remember what right now. Ah. That’s right. “Headnankle.” Comes out in one mangled word, grass and leaves and whatever foliage nearby scooped up into the air in a squall of eddied wind as Sikorth lands far more lightly than one might expect of a dragon his size.

Are you kidding? Ksenia stares as the words coming from the brownrider get increasingly difficult to understand. She grabs the back of his jacket and heedless of her fear of heights, pushes up onto Sikorth's back and leans over and slaps Cha'el hard about the side of the head. "Wake the FUCK up, we are CRASH landing. You're going to get us killed!" A note of hysteria is in the heightened sound of her scream, even though the brown actually isn't having trouble. But Cha'el is. "You bastard, don't you pass out on me again you fainting sheep!" Anger fuels the woman and she sups on the emotion to keep the fear at bay. When they land, Ksenia lets out a strangled yelp and starts smacking the rider's back. "Wake up. Wake your ass up." She doesn't even bother to answer his question because he's in a far worse state than she is. Eyeing the ground below them, she unbuckles herself and looks from the ground to Ch'ael and back down again. She can't get him down there, so now that they're safely on the ground, she half-stands and peers over Cha'el's shoulder and tries to see if he's really awake or if he's just barely hanging on. Swallowing, she queries, "Cha'el?" his name probably loud in his ear.

Hanging onto consciousness by absently trying to count the dots dancing behind his eyes, Cha’el is caught in one of those surreal moments between losing consciousness all over again and not where pain is muffled and the world seems all warm and fuzzy. Tighter his stomach knots as his body complains about over-exertion and lack of sufficient hydration to counter the loss of blood. And then. CRACK! “The FUCK!” He bellows snapped right back to alertness. But just as he swings about to respond to the batting of hands against his back and Ksenia’s demands that he ‘wake up’, nausea grips him in its cruel hold and he heaves. Thankfully with no result but the next time, she might not be so lucky not when the rider is looking suspiciously green about the gills and has gone pale beneath his tan. “I’m…gonna be….sick.” Captain Obvious at your service!! With fingers tingling he pulls his hands from beneath the straps desperate to dismount before putting his lunch all over the trader. Sadly, Murphy has his claws in deep and isn’t done with humiliating the man for just as he swings his leg over, up it all comes in warm splash of stomach contents that mostly go spewing down the dragon’s side but might just catch Ksenia’s leg if she’s not able to squirm away in time. And then…down he goes. In a miserable tangle of arms and legs, Cha’el slither-slips down Sikorth’s side and lands in an untidy heap on the ground with a groan. The dragon himself is NOT impressed; a shudder of disgust rippling through his sturdy frame that hopefully won’t unseat Ksenai before she’s ready.

"You THREW UP on me!" Ksenia's yowl of anger and disgust probably echoes Sikorth's as her skirted leg gets splashed with Cha'el-vomit. As the rider tumbles down the side of the dragon, the trader leans over to watch (and gasp) and so when the brown shudders his disgust it does unseat the woman. With a scream that shatters the jungle, she falls down the browns side, banging her ankle, tumbling as she goes. When she lands in the soft grasses of the clearing, the scream abruptly cuts off. It's hard to tell what her state is, because she's not moving and she's not saying anything. A pair, they make. The soft breezes of Southern's jungles ruffle the grasses and send tendrils of espresso hair dancing in the wind.

“Motherfucker.” Cha’el mumbles into his beard. Hard to tell if that’s for the accusation thrown at him by Ksenia or for the pain ricocheting through his abused body or for the extreme embarrassment of having thrown up like a pansy. Probably all three. Through slitted lids he sees the woman come tumbling down the side of Sikorth and only barely manages to roll to one side to avoid being crunched when she thwaps down into the grass beside him. A couple of minutes go by in which the brown stares at his downed rider and passenger in disbelief. « You are an idiot! » Is the dragon’s dry observation when he nudges his enormous maw against first his rider’s thigh and then the female’s. « She’s hurt. Get on your feet soldier and take care of it. » Such empathy. “This is all YOUR fault!” Cha’el slings back aloud at his bonded though it comes out in a quiet growl and could be construed as having been sent Ksenia’s way. Swiping a sleeve across his mouth, he breathes a groan. “Fucking randy bastard always having to get his fucking randy end away without so much as a fucking moment’s notice. FUCK!” The brownrider grumbles and grouses as he pushes up on an elbow and leans over to peer down at the trader, his other hand lifting to tentatively touch a finger just below the cut on her temple. “Where do you stay?” Because yes, he fully intends helping her back to her place of residence, even if it kills him.

Ksenia is focusing on breathing and staying still. On determining if she can still her feet and legs, on making sure that all of her faculties are in order and of course, trying to forget that the brownrider just threw up on her leg. That's when Cha'el blames her and then starts calling her a randy bastard. So when those eyelids of hers fly open, fire kindled within. The only problem happens to be that she doesn't expect Cha'el to be this close and touching near the cut on her temple. Her head already rings and her voice does neither of them any favors when she bellows out, "I am the randy bastard?" incredulously. She squirms enough to bring her hands to curl into the edges of his flight jacket at his throat — being so conveniently right there and all — and hisses, "This is not my fault. I'm not the one that didn't bind his wound like an idiot, fainted, still didn't bind his wound, nearly killed us on the way down and to put salt in everything, you just threw up on my leg. EVEN YOUR DRAGON was grossed out. Boyo, this is all your fault." In a pique, she tries to shake him, but she's not that strong likely to actually move him. "I stay everywhere and no where. I'm not leading you back to my caravan, baba." She still has her grip on the jacket collar and uses it to pull herself up towards him (with a wince), "You're a mess!"

That wasn’t a move or a reaction that Cha’el had expected though he really should have given everything she’s tossed at him thus far. Dumbfounded, he’s easily caught by the jacket though finds himself having to plant his other hand to the ground at her shoulder when she attempts to shake him. Its either that – half covering her with his upper torso – or lose his balance and land flat atop Ksenia. Grey matter catches up with accusation and…he begins to laugh. All the pain, shock and yes, fear of the passed few hours coming together in a rich rumble of relief woven together with disbelief. “You are, by far, the most infuriating woman I have ever had the misfortune to be lumped with.” Cha’el returns, eyes too bright locking with those of darkest night. “And you flatter yourself if you think I was talking to you.” That said, he lowers his head, lips so close she might assume the daft idiot means to kiss her if not for the narrowing of his gaze. “You can’t walk on your own, you wench. Just how do you think you’re going to get back to your caravan, hmm? Planning on sprouting wings?” Yup, he’s going to push buttons and needle just as much as she has. Shoving upwards and probably taking her with him given that she’s hanging onto his jacket, Cha’el offers her a roving once eye, attention settling in brief contemplation on her midsection. “Don’t think I can’t find you again.” Intent sits in those words. “But now, if you don’t mind, I think I need to find a healer. One that’s not going to poison me with trader shite enough to make me throw up. Now. Where.Do.You.Stay!?”

"I am better prepared than you think I am," Ksenia snaps, a heated glare for his disdaining words. Infusing her next words with as much disgust as possible, she retorts, "And you are the dumbest man I've ever encountered." When he leans in that close, her eyes automatically fall to his mouth and it's not anticipation in her gaze, but horror. The man just regurgitated the contents of his stomach! "If I am pregnant," she hisses when she falls back after he moves up and away, "I will dash myself on some rocks until I knock it lose or I will sell it to the highest bidder like I did K'ane's!" She starts to wiggle away from him, snarling, "If it weren't for me, you'd be up shit creek you toad." If she gains her feet, limping, the look she gives him is utterly and stupendously triumphant. "You DO need to find a healer, fancy pants," the look she gives his side is nothing short of — a twisted, mangled version of concern that she tries to hide. Shuffling back a few more steps, she swallows and then her lips curve into the craftiest, pretties smile she's yet bestowed upon him. "Kiss, kiss." And then she turns. Where's she going to go? Who knows, but something is amiss.

So many retorts lift to pain-hazed mind. All of which stall the moment Ksenia spills that name. K’ane!!? The bronzerider that had threatened to brain him, K’ane? “Fuck me.” Cha’el mutters drawing his knees up and hanging his head for a moment in an attempt to clear his mind. And then louder and aimed at the trader: “Fuck you! If you’re pregnant that child is half mine! You don’t get to take a decision like that on your own!” Strangely possessive the timbre of the growl her threat is met with. But he really has little to no fight left in him and presses his hand to the scarf wadded against his side, her farewell earning her little more than a middle-fingered salute in return.

"I can to. JUST WATCH ME." With that, Ksenia lets out a sharp, piercing whistle and out comes a runner trotting from the jungle. With far more grace at mounting the runner than the dragon, the trader spins the runner around and blows Cha'el a kiss with a sharp-toothed smile. "See you in another life, boyo!" With that, she rears the animal and takes off into the jungles, taking paths that she knows are there. The tinkling sound of her laughter trails behind her for she's feeling pretty high and mighty at getting the rider good.

Not moments after she’s gone, Sikorth puts out the call to the Weyr, seeking aid for his rider who himself remains semi-conscious until aide arrives. Questions over the nature of his wound and how he got it are met with a series of grunts, one of which touches briefly on having been attacked by a sharp-clawed, darkly pelted feline in the Ice Fields. Met with cautious disbelief but Cha’el doesn’t expand. After spending a night in Southern Weyr’s infirmary under observation, Igen’s Weyrsecond, brushing aside protests from the healers, heads back home the very next day. Not quite up to par but with a steely determination that bodes ill for those that get in his way.

And somewhere in the wilds of Southern, a girl returns to her caravan, bruised and with a sprained ankle. Ksenia gives no clue to any one who ask except to say that there's no damn treasure up north, but she does stop by her grandmother's wagon — the patriarch — and manages to get her hands on the cutest little cherubic girl toddler with glossy sable curls and bright blue eyes. With narrowed eyes, she clucks her tongue and informs her grandmother not to let the girl-child out of her sight.

And that, my friends, is that.

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