Sienna, F'dan


(Set before Panic! at the Weyr. Incredibly huge log.)

Two of Igen's riders go out on sweeps and get grounded by a sandstorm. Sienna is lovely; F'dan shows his softer side and is rewarded with his sevenday going from bad to a lot worse.

Violence, gore


It is afternoon of the sixteenth day of the seventh month of the second turn of the 12th pass.


Central Bowl, Igen Weyr

OOC Date


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Central Bowl

Cradled, childlike, in an easterly mountainous embrace, the steppes of the central bowl nestle cozily between lake and weyr. The latticework of dusty adobe paths spider out from the southerly Weyr Road, the wagon-ruts of which curve lazily to the northeastern bazaar, the adobe sprawl of the New Weyr reflected in the lake that dominates a large portion of outdoor Igen. A small footpath, just as abused, ambles away from the shores, travelling over rock and hill to the northern dragonet complex and branching itself due west to end at the entrance of the blessedly cool inner caverns. One cracked path, faint with disuse, leads southeast to the crumbling ruins of Igen-that-was. All around, the dizzying heights of the caldera's sharp-sloped sides are pocked here and there with ledges, the weyrs' draconic occupants needing no path to guide their way.

Sienna doesn’t usually have sweeps anymore, but after her rather disastrous attempt at playing dragon poker last seven, she is now covering some sweeps duties of the riders she lost to. Today, it’s U’lan of Whirlwind and his blue. Team sweeps over the desert. She and Kehemath wait in the bowl for their as of yet unknown sweeps partner to arrive, the darkly hued green stretching her wings and rumbling in pleasure, the emotion rolling off her mind in waves. Sienna is fastening her riding jacket, tugging the collar up and adjusting her gloves as she scans the area. She wears her knot and proudly sports her two S&R T-Tourney patches on her jacket as she shoves her curls beneath her helmet and cleans her goggles.

Is F'dan late? Not quite, since Igen will freeze over before that happens – but he does arrive on time rather than early, which is almost as strange. Kadanth swoops down from his ledge, a welcoming bugle given to Kehemath as he tucks his wings tight for a heavy landing beside her. F'dan isn't aboard for some reason, but he is striding across the Bowl towards the green and bronze pair, pulling on his gloves. His hand is raised in greeting as he gets close, reaching out for the loops to climb between Kadanth's neckridges when he has a sudden doubletake. “Sienna? You fly sweeps now?” He's looking awful, the splint gone from his hand but his skin pasty despite the Igen tan.

Kehemath lifts her head and rumbles a happy greeting to Kadanth, though she shifts a bit as he lands beside her, giving him some space. Sienna shades her eyes and then smiles widely, warm and pleased. “F’dan!” She coughs as she nimbly climbs into the straps. “Uh, well. Not usually, but I lost some rounds of dragon poker and we were betting for sweeps duties. So.” She grins and shrugs. “It’s good for Kehemath. How are you?” She looks concerned, looking at his hand. “What happened?”

A woman who's happy to see him: what a relief that is. F'dan pulls himself up between Kadanth's neckridges, deftly strapping himself in. After turns of practice it requires no more thought than brushing his teeth or shaving, the movements easy and sure. “Gambling?” Obviously Sienna doesn't strike him as the type for that, but he doesn't push it. His hand is raised, considered, and then moved in a dismissive gesture away. “It's been bandaged for sevendays. I broke some fingers catching a firestone bag in that bi —” he catches himself on that particular obscenity; no swearing in front of women like Sienna. “In that bad fall.” It doesn't seem to concern him though, and by the sleepless circles under his eyes he has other things going on. “But really – gambling? U'lan beat you?” He doesn't know which idea is more shocking.

Sienna is happy to see him as she buckles herself in and leans down to tug on a shoulder strap until she’s settled. Moving back, Kehemath spreads her wings and fans them, stretching ligaments and tendons, preparing for the long flight ahead. Sienna smiles sheepishly, shrugging one shoulder. “It was a friendly game. I’m terrible at poker though, so yeah, he beat me. Made him happy.” So that’s a bonus. “I never usually join in their games, but it was a nice evening, I had a glass of wine…” One thing led to another and there was poker to be had! She frowns at his hand, shaking her head. “It’s healed now though?” She absently scratches the healed threadscore on her own forearm from that fall as Kehemath takes another step away and readies to launch.

“I have what looks like an extra knuckle on the little one,” F'dan replies with a shrug, “but who's going to notice that?” And anyway if they do it's kind of cool. Chicks dig war wounds, right? Kadanth has backed himself a few steps from Kehemath, clearing the space to take off. On land he's as heavy-footed as ever, lumbering his great bulk around with a watchful eye kept on the green. Thickset haunches lower, muscles bunching before he pushes up and into the sky. His ascent is slower than Kehemath's, the sheer weight of him making the agility of a green an impossibility. Stamina and brute strength, those are bronze virtues; flying wingtip to wingtip with a quick-turning green Kadanth's lack of manoeuvrability is more obvious.

Sienna leans over, peering towards F’dan’s hands, but of course the distance and gloves make it impossible. “Probably no one,” she agrees. She’s about to ask more, but Kadanth kicks into the sky and Kehemath follows. Her ascent is nimble and swift, the green managing to circle once above the bowl as she waits for Kadanth to join her. Sienna mentally reins her in and her wingbeats settle into the long-distance rhythm needed for a long sweep over the harsh desert sands. Turning, she opens her thoughts to Kadanth, her forest as lush and mysterious as ever, creatures moving through the underbrush. Beyond it though is a perfectly replicated image of the desert and mountains beyond, where their sweep will take place. Kehemath settles naturally into a position behind and to the right of Kadanth, letting his broad wings break through the air while she coasts on his drafts and in his wake, taking advantage of the winds which will extend her range considerably.

Kadanth was born to fly, the same thrill racing through him after so many millions of take-offs. The forest of his mindscape is rustled with the same wind that brushes over his hide, the trees stretching as far as the eye can see. He falls into formation easily with Kehemath, enjoying the natural complementarity of it. Five colours, each with their own strength and weaknesses, each necessary to fulfil their shared purpose. As they move out into the desert the wind picks up slowly and steadily, so that by the time F'dan wants to comment on it Sienna is out of shouting range, his words stolen on the air's fingers. Kadanth reaches out instead, relaying on F'dan's words rather than his usual pictures: « did we expect any weather? » The final word is tinged with the hint of dustclouds. 'Weather' here doesn't mean sunshine.

Kehemath settles easily as well into the formation, well used to it now where as in the beginning she resisted other dragons being so close. She tilts her muzzle to scent the wind, snorting softly. The images in her mind suddenly vanish, replaced with the blackness that always accompanies her speech. Images and spoken word do not go together in her mind. It’s one or the other, at least for now. Her voice is low and distant, war drums echoing over a vast plain carried by sage smoke and thunder. « No. But I sense some. » She shifts in the sky, pinions flaring as she catches the scent again. She snorts, sharing the scent rather than words with the bronze. Her mind is filled with the image of sand, blowing, stinging, its scent of dirt and dust and electricity. Then the blackness returns. « Mine knows of a cave where we can wait it out. » Tilting on a wingtip, Kehemath shifts south, towards what appears to be nothing but more empty desert, and pushes forward with a swift backstroke of her wings, assuming he will follow.

“For Faranth's sake,” F'dan cusses, the sound stolen from his mouth by the wind. He pulls up his veil, gloved fingers too clumsy to clip it up properly so the fabric instead pressed awkwardly against his face. “Let's get in somewhere before we get our eyes blasted out.” Kadanth seems to agree: a flick of his tail and a tilt of his wings brings him in a long arc to follow Kehemath. The visibility is already beginning to worsen, flurries of dust obscuring the green from view for long moments. Kadanth conveys to Kehemath the faint hope that he won't crush her on the landing or fly into a rock, though the thought is calm and without a hint of worry. For now he's aloft and unharmed, the winds not yet enough to disrupt the flying of a creature so large.

The wind picks up and Kehemath wavers in the sky, growling at the sand as it rises to buffet against her. Sienna hunkers low over her green’s straps, but a particularly strong gust knocks the green sideways. With her thoughts linked with Kadanth’s, as they would be in Fall, he no doubt senses her movement even if he can’t see her, and she wrestles her way back forward. The jerk though has Sienna thrashing a bit, riding goggles knocked free and tumbling to the earth below, gone forever. Squinting, she crouches lower over Kehemath’s neck, trying to find shelter for her now uncovered face against the green’s hide. The winds rise and they are blasted by a wall of wind and dust, and Kehemath drops to the ground like a stone, her wings unable to hold her aloft in wings so strong, and so thick with everything but air. She lands heavily and there is a brief sting of pain through the link, sparks flaring upwards from that sagebrush fire. « Here, » she says to Kadanth, urging him mentally to land, as the cave is not far up ahead, occasionally visible through the shifting sand and dirt.

That spark of pain elicits three sounds at once, all bound together so closely that it's hard to tell what is heard, what is felt. F'dan shouts Sienna's name in concern, Kadanth roars as he loses sight of the green, and over his mindlink something crashes through the forest, a great lumbering force racing almost into view at the edge of the trees. Kadanth might offer a more stable ride in high winds but this is a challenge even for the bronze and F'dan presses himself to his lifemate's neck, trying to steady himself against the gale. The drop when it comes is so quick that F'dan's stomach rises into his chest, the curious weightless feeling ending with a jolt as they hit the earth. It's not a neat landing, a sudden side gust shoving Kadanth violently as he’s feet from the ground. It takes all of the bronze's strength to avoid landing on Kehemath's flank, and the last minute whip of his body to avoid her has him landing with a heavy impact. « We're fine, » he reassures, agitated yellow-glowing eyes seeking out Kehemath in the dust, and over the wind comes the sound of F'dan swearing. “I am not sharding fine you oaf.” Hunched forward and with the jolt of Kadanth's landing F'dan has smashed his face against Kadanth's neck, and his veil is rapidly soaking through with blood, his nose beneath it decidedly more wonky than it was before. « He's fine, » Kadanth repeats in the same placid tone.

Kehemath’s thoughts are billowing sage smoke and sand, her forest invisible in the gale as she crawls forward. Then, blessedly, there is the cave looming before them, the low craggy opening dropping down, providing plenty of room for both dragons to enter, albeit one at a time. The green enters first with a heavy groan, crawling forward before she flops onto the sandy, stony, rough ground. “F’dan?” Sienna hollers against the howling wind as she fumbles to unbuckle and dismount, eyes scrunched almost completely shut. Kehemath’s reply to Kadanth’s words is a simple, « Good, » as a stinging sensation creeps through the link once more. Raw grit against tender hide, sand in all sorts of uncomfortable places. Mingled with the sage is the scent of burnt rosemary, acrid to the senses.

Kadanth finds his way by feeling after Kehemath's mind rather than seeing. The sandstorm is vicious now, the winds howling like angry spirits, the dust so thick that vision is impossible. A scrape of pinions over the rock and Kadanth is in, letting out a guttering sound of disapproval from the depths of his chest. He tries to find the perfect depth in the cave where he can block the entrance with his body turned sidelong, his flank preventing the worst of the storm from entering while also allowing in a modicum of light. His neck is curled so his head is inside, a faint whuffling breath over Kehemath to check she's all right. F'dan dismounts with a thump, veil and goggles ripped off and dropped with his gloves. His lower lip has split and his nose is visibly broken, blood pulsing out over the lower half of his face. No niceties for Sienna now, a brother-in-arms rather than a lady: F'dan leans to spit out blood as he approaches her. "You okay?"

Kehemath shifts her body, rumbling softly as she flexes toes and ankles and legs, still stinging from her abrupt landing. But nothing is broken, nothing is sprained. Her hide is flecked with shallow scrapes from the sandstorm, but none are serious. Turning her head, she gently begins to lick at her hide, cleaning it of the sand as she rumbles a soft question to Kadanth. How is he? She rests near to him, not close, but not far either, a comfortable distance despite the depth of the cavern. Her glowing eyes regard F’dan as Sienna blindly finds her water skin and pulls it open, pooling liquid in her palm to use to try and clear the sand from her eyes. “I’m fine,” she answers, “just can’t see well right now, goggles fell off.” Then she freezes, straightening. Her eyes are closed, water streaming from closed lids and tracing dusty tracks down her cheeks to drip onto her leathers, but she’s looking right at F’dan, and Kehemath’s attention might give a suggestion of how that’s possible. “You’re bleeding.” Obvious. “We need to set your nose. Do you want me to do it?”

Kadanth is fine, though the side of his body towards the end of the cave is receiving an unpleasantly vigorous exfoliation. Now they're out of the storm he turns his attention to his lifemate, watching with concern. The pain isn't so overwhelming that he can't close their link against it, but it's hardly pleasant. » You don't sharding say, « F'dan snaps back, another spit of blood on the floor, the movement of his face making him cuss like a seacrafter. Sienna is given a watery-eyed nod of his head. "Yeah, just get yourself sorted out first. I'd prefer it if you could see." His voice is a sharp snap of pain. No matter if she and Kehemath aced blindfold tests in Weyrlinghood - he'd prefer all possible eyes in full working order while someone violently realigns his face. Tentative fingers reach up to touch the break, eliciting another hiss of pain and string of expletives. "Is that normal? It'd strip the hide off a runner in five minutes."

Kehemath turns her head to watch the bronze for a moment, a small tendril of grateful sage smoke offered for his blocking of the cave. She edges a bit closer. Sienna winces for F’dan’s pain and turns back to her water skin, trying to flush the sand from her reddened eyes. “Yes, that’s normal, but the weather was supposed to be clear…they don’t usually spring up so fast.” One more unusual thing in Igen. “But they can be that vicious.” Flushing her eyes again, she tentatively peers around, blinking before she rinses them once more. Then she opens her riding jacket to use her clean tunic beneath to wipe her face as clear as she can. “Okay,” she says, turning to her straps to remove a few clean cloths, and approaching F’dan. “You want a countdown or just want me to do it?” she asks as she gets well within his personal space, peering closely at his nose with her bloodshot brown eyes. Kehemath’s head shifts, bathing F’dan’s face in the light from her eyes, yellow and orange.

F'dan follows Sienna's lead, opening his jacket so he can wipe his face on his tunic, leaving him with an unattractive mess of blood and pus over his chest. Delightful. For once he's not appreciating having a beautiful woman so close - even his libido isn't unconquerable. " Just do it," he says firmly. "I'm just gonna sit here," thank Faranth for a vaguely chair-sized chunk of rock, "and tell you a story and you can just do it." Distraction is a far older painkiller than fellis and it'll do in a pinch. Kadanth shifts his head to lay it parallel with Kehemath's, a sound too low for humans to hear rumbling through his chest. F'dan closes his eyes, hands clenched white-knuckled in his lap. "So when I was a kid I broke my arm playing in these caverns we weren't meant to go to. I knew they'd tan my hide if they found out, so I just decided not to tell anyone. For a sevenday. And by then they basically have to break it again -"

Kehemath rumbles softly back to Kadanth, and then she turns her muzzle to gently lick his. Just once, if he doesn’t pull away. It’s a soft, gentle lick, and then she’s back to watching. Sienna chuckles softly, offering F’dan a gentle smile as she kneels before him, body leaning against his knees to steady herself. Reaching up with the towel, she gently dabs away the blood so she can better see his nose, and then instructs him to blow into the towel as best he can. “Mmmhmm,” she says, encouraging him to continue as he tells his story. Draping the towel over his leg, she reaches up with both hands, fingertips touching above his nose, heels of her hands touching beneath it, and she pulls slowly but firmly down to begin straightening his nose. No violent jerking like some folks do, this is a far more subtle method, elongating the nose to get things back to rights. It still hurts though, and she begins to repeat the process.

Can the forest feel affection? Kadanth's certainly can, a wave of warmth emanating from the spirit in the centre of the ancient trees. It's not gratitude or liking as a human would recognize it but an older, stranger home-feeling, as if the woods are welcoming. No such grace for the human half of the pair, the story rapidly degrading: "which hurt li-oh Faranth's-" and then a long litany of expletives, involuntary tears streaming out of his eyes. Sienna is the first woman to see F'dan cry since he was knee high to a grasshopper. Not that pain tears really count, right? For the sake of F'dan's image. Kadanth lets out a low creel, eyes closing. No need to watch this.

Kehemath’s mind is gentled now, her forest calm despite the lingering sage smoke and rosemary scents. When Kadanth creels, Kehemath tilts her muzzle to rest it gently against his, a gentle soothing breeze of earth and growth emerging from the trees. Of life. Sienna winces but she doesn’t stop, continuing to stroke her fingers down F’dan’s nose until it looks straight. “There we go,” she murmurs, voice soft and soothing. “Good,” she praises. “The next part you should probably do. Fingers up your nose, see how it feels, adjust things if you need from the inside.” She takes another clean cloth to gently dab at the mixed blood and tears on his face, not calling any attention to it as she works. “So,” she gently prompts, “they had to break your arm again?” Automatically she glances down to his arms, gaze lingering for a moment on the skin of his healing hand.

Kadanth lets his muzzle rest against Kehemath's, eyes slowly opening, the fast orange whirling of concern beginning to slow, the agitated flicking of his tail coming to a stop. F'dan opens his eyes to look at Sienna, face pale with pain where it's not smeared with blood. “Thanks.” His head is turned to the side as he gingerly adjusts his nose with his fingers, and it's a compliment that he doesn't entirely turn from Sienna – even if it's a fairly disgusting one. At some point she seems to have crossed over some sort of line from being simply woman to being a teammate in the field. A little click and he hunches over abruptly as if he’s about to gag, a wave of nausea washing over him. But, thankfully, nothing comes of it, and F’dan is free to sit back and let Sienna wipe off his face. Hopefully they can never speak of this tears business ever again. “And then they set it,” he finishes, giving her a grin. "Boring story." The look of gentle care on her face has something deep and complex in him giving a little ache. "Thank you."

Sienna’s eyes are concerned at the click, her hand reaching out to steady his shoulder as she shifts to the side just in case he vomits. Then she settles back again, still leaning against his knees. Dampening her third clean cloth she reaches up for one more attempt at getting him cleaned up. “Not a boring story,” she says with a smile as she dabs at his nose. “You’re going to want to stick the corners of this cloth up there to help absorb the blood, and keep flushing it out as often as you can so nothing gets impacted and infected. And you’re welcome.” Another smile and she rocks back onto her heels, pushing to her feet and walking to Kehemath’s straps. Rummaging in one of the pouches she returns a moment later to sit beside him, close if that little stone bench is a bit too narrow, and she offers him a sandwich wrapped in oilcloth. Another cloth is opened and she takes a bite of her own sandwich with a low exhale of breath. “Wonder how deep this cave goes,” she murmurs.

F'dan really doesn't look his best with cloth stuffed in each nostril, a split lip and blood all over his tunic and leathers, which is unfortunate because even red-eyed Sienna is astonishingly beautiful. As the pain in his nose subsides to a burning throb he notices her more, the way her thigh brushes his as she sits down. The sandwich is taken without looking in her eyes, a nod of thanks given as he unwraps the oil cloth. Who comes in sweeps so prepared they have food?! The cave is looked down before F'dan shrugs, reaching up to dab more blood from his lip." We could try to find out, but I don't have anything to light our way." A mouthful of sandwich chewed thoughtfully before he breaks into a sharp grin and a bark of a laugh. "I've had the worst few days. This is the icing on the cake. The world's least glamorous injury."

Sienna always has food. She laughs. “Good point.” Even she doesn’t come prepared with a glow basket. “Oh?” she asks, glancing sidelong at him. “It’ll be a good story though?” she remarks with a wry grin. “Or we could make up a new one…what would be glamorous?” She takes a bite of her sandwich and stares down the cavern. “What else happened this seven?”

"How about bandits attacked and I valiantly defended your honour?" F'dan offers, his grin half-obscured with the linen, the rest of it blood-streaked. "Sounds better than making a clumsy landing in a sandstorm. Might endear me to W'rin." Which leads naturally onto his recent misadventures, a snort given around a mouthful of sandwich. "Tried to apologize to Mayte and she tore me a new one. Demands to see W'rin with me, so goodbye to the idea of a man to man talk about tactics. R'xim is injured and off drills. Linny told me to go," and he must be feeling a bit better because he mellows his word choice, "do myself." He shakes his head. "Not my finest seven."

Sienna giggles softly, shifting to gently press a hand against her back, where her knife wound scar is. “Tempting,” she says with a crooked grin, “and I’m certain you would defend me.” Her cheeks flush a bit. “Alas, W’rin would want to know who, and where, and why…” And is lying to W’rin again really a good idea? She flashes him a warm smile. “We need a story that is good, but requires no follow-up on the part of anyone else. What if you defended a woman in a cothold from a thief?” Then she sobers, taking another bite of sandwich and nodding. “Ahh. Well, you can still talk to W’rin alone at another time? It’s not like you’ll only see him one more time. What happened with R’xim?” Assuming it’s something in addition to his threadscore. Then a wince. “She did? That’s a shame…why? Maybe it’s just pregnancy hormones.” She smiles warmly at him. “And now you’re stuck in a cave with me during a sandstorm. At least things can’t get worse?” Did she just jinx them?

Oh, her giggle is lovely. She's just perfect - far beyond any man like F'dan. He's never met anyone who seemed untouchable before. Another mouthful of sandwich, a smile and a little shake of his head. Shards his face hurts, and everything's beginning to swell. Lovely. " We don't actually have to lie. My pride can take it." His ego is big enough to absorb the hit. "Rix still can't use his arm after the score. He's mobile, but he'd be as much use as a girl for catching a bag of firestone." And then amazingly he catches himself. "Sorry. Good for nothing." And as for Linny, that gets a frown. He doesn't want Sienna too aware of the dirty details of his sex life. "Uh, I upset her. She wasn't happy with something she thought she could deal with." As for Sienna, well: he gives her the guileless, open smile normally reserved only for R'xim. "Being trapped with you in a cave is the best thing that's happened to me in a turn."

Sienna looks at his swelling face in concern, turning to glance at the bronze bulk still blocking the vicious sandstorm. "I wish I could get you something cold to put on that…even some cool water would help. Are you doing okay?" Then a pause. "Would you thank him for covering the entrance? It can't be comfortable, but we appreciate it." She smiles gently, fondly at the bronze, and Kehemath exhales a low wuffle. Then Sienna nods, pushing up the arm of her leathers to show him her scar. "He and I were scored in almost the exact same place. His was far deeper than mine though." Then a smile as he catches himself, and a nod, and she doesn’t comment on it. Habits are hard to break and she’s pleased he’s trying. "Hopefully he gets his strength back soon. I'm sure he will, in time. If he needs help with anything and you're not around, tell him to ask me? Until those eggs hatch I don't have much to do." Then she listens again, nodding around another bite of sandwich. She chews, swallows, and then replies. "Ahh. Well. If she thought she could deal with it…then that's more her concern than yours? I mean you can still try to make amends, but if she's changed her mind about something, there's really not much you can do about that." Way to spin it, F'dan. Well done. Then Sienna blushes darkly, dipping her head down and looking away after seeing his smile. “You flatter me, F’dan,” she says sheepishly.

F'dan reaches up to tentatively touch at the break and instantly regrets it: pain flares though his face, a cuss bitten down on his tongue and eyes briefly closing. Kadanth's tail flicker flacks over the stone floor of the cave, but he doesn't move. What are bronzes made for except protecting smaller dragons? It's a calling that even his much less balanced rider feels. With great power comes great responsibility. "I'll do, don't worry. I've had a lot worse. And Linny…" Is that a look of genuine regret? It just might be. "I don't want her hurt." Which is true, he just also wants things on his terms. He's a unilateral kind of guy. Sienna's blush though has his voice lower, serious for a moment. "It's true." And then since he respects W'rin and, stranger and more precious, he respects Sienna F'dan's up on his feet, empty oil cloth folded neatly, more blood wiped away. "How long do these things last?" No excuse for standing up, just, er, wanting to stretch?

Sienna winces when he touches his nose, knowing that's a bad idea. "Easy," she murmurs, reaching out to gently squeeze his knee. Her hand lingers for a moment and then she draws it back. "Like your twice broken arm?" Sienna asks with a gentle smile. Listening for a moment, she nods, brushing curls away from her face. "Is there anything you can do to help her be happy again?" She shifts a bit as he gets to his feat, remaining sitting as she finishes her sandwich and wipes the crumbs from her lips with the cloth. "That's very sweet of you to say, F'dan. Thank you." She's flattered, truly, brushing hair away from her face again as she tries to get her blush under control. Compliments get her every time. "Depends. Sometimes minutes, sometimes candlemarks. Won't know until it's over."

F’dan’s knee has a strange tingly feeling from where Sienna touched it, and he’s aware of it even over the throbbing pain in his face. Speaking of which, standing here like a lemon isn’t helping with distracting him: instead he moves to sit with his back to Kadanth’s jaw, reaching out one hand to scratch at his lifemate’s hide gently. Being in physical contact with his dragon is as soothing as a mother’s hug to a child — not that F’dan ever had that experience to make the comparison. That and it’s an acceptable distance from Sienna; even with his legs straight out on the floor in front of him his toes are an acceptable few feet from Sienna’s own. Sienna who’s blushing, which is normally a red rag to a herdbeast for F’dan: blushing means a strong reaction to a compliment, that reaction is a weakness, that weakness can be exploited. Not this time, though; F’dan doesn’t dip into his arsenal of smouldering looks or honeyed words. Instead he looks down at his tunic, picking with distaste at the bloodstains, forcing himself to imagine getting punched by W’rin everytime he notices how pretty Sienna is. Hopefully he can build up some sort of Pavlovian response so he doesn’t even notice it. “I think the best thing I can do for Linny at this point is probably leave her alone. I just hate the idea of —” a little scowl of distaste — “her seeing other men.” Oh hypocrisy thy name is F’dan.

Sienna turns a bit on the stone bench when he settles by Kadanth, lifting one leg to brace her foot against the stone, knee bent, her arms wrapped around it. Resting her cheek against her knee she relaxes there, casual and comfortable. She smiles softly watching bronze and rider connect, turning to look at her now lightly dozing lifemate. “She doesn’t rest around many other dragons,” she remarks, a bit randomly. “Is she seeing other men?” she asks, looking back at F’dan, clearly surprised by that. On the other hand…is she really surprised? Her furrowed brow suggests that no, after her initial reaction, she’s not surprised by that. “I would think that, with her carrying your child, she would be faithful…” Her lips purse slightly, a moment of pause. “Are you happy?” she asks suddenly, her eyes scanning his face, trying to pick out emotions among the swelling.

F'dan considers Kehemath for a moment, eyes softening as Kadanth passes silent comment. "He's normally so indifferent to other dragons. R'xim's Shalnth, golds when they rise or guard his clutch on the sands - that's it." And now he's curled relaxed and close, eyes half-hooded and at peace. F'dan though gave up a long time ago trying to understand his lifemate; they are suited, it is enough. Instead he rests his head back on Kadanth's muzzle, taking a deep breath of his smell. "She might not have yet, but she will. She's unhappy and she can't drink." QED. F'dan isn't an idiot. "She probably wants to get back at me." And that's as explicit as he'll get on his own sexual misadventures. The pain in his face is growing, and he awkwardly shifts sideways to lie on his side, cheek cradled on one arm. It's an unusually vulnerable and trusting pose for an angry man. "Happy?" A faint shrug, inasmuch as he can in this position. "I have my moments." So no, not really.

Sienna smiles softly, fondly at the pair of dragons. "She's usually very skittish around other dragons. Rarely gets close, especially physically. But Kadanth…" Sienna shrugs, giving F'dan a smile. "I don't know. She's comfortable around him. They fit." Their minds are similar and Kehemath finds comfort in that. It's comforting for Sienna too, to have her so relaxed. But it's odd, bronze and green, as most bronzes won't give greens the time of day, and Kehemath is incredibly selective of who is in her pack. But Kadanth…he's in one of her inside circles. And the only bronze. Perhaps it was the hunt, or maybe because he doesn't press her to talk. He just lets her be. In her dozing thoughts, Kehemath's mind-self pads through the forest, darting into Kadanth's ancient wood and then back, flirting with the invisible and fading boundary between their minds. Whose tree is that? She doesn't care, and gnaws on a root before happily trotting on. Sienna closes her eyes for a moment, briefly getting lost in Kehemath's forest, a puff of rosemary smoke before she's back in the present. "She doesn't seem like a very happy person, even when she can drink…" Sienna says quietly. Sadly. She feels bad for Linny. "Get back at you for what? For the thing she thought she could handle but then decided she couldn't?" She watches him shift with a pang of sympathy, and pushes to her feet. Walking to Kehemath's straps she rummages around again, eyes squinting in the dim light to see what she's got. With a sound of triumph she comes up with what looks like a tunic. Lifting her hand, she gives the cloth to a brown firelizard and smiles as he winks between. "Just moments?" Sienna asks, hand caressing Kehemath's side as she looks over to F'dan. "Why? What makes you happy?"

Kadanth is utterly at peace, the overlap of Kehemath's mind and his allowed and enjoyed. The spirit that has begun to stir in the forest as Rhiscorath glows has lost its ominous aura and instead is a peaceful deep-rooted awareness, something nameless and ancient that shadows Kehemath's mind through the trees, always just out of sight. If F'dan is fire and ice Kadanth is something far more subtle and alien, the old still-beating heart of the forest. F'dan watches as Sienna moves, and as always she brings out the best of him - the most honest bit. "I'm not the best man in the world," he says, raising a finger to delicately scout at the split in his lip. "She thought she knew that. I guess it felt differently in the event." Her final question is given some thought. "Flying Thread, catching golds. Hanging out with R'xim. Being with you. Flying alone with Kadanth." That bit in the middle is glossed over. "And you?"

Kehemath's mind-self is not afraid, not skittish of the ancient shadow that follows her. She, too, has her own mysteries and what is another one but something to be explored? There is far more to her mind than the trees, and her mind-self moves with grace and ease through the woods on silent paws. The scent of burning sage follows in her wake, tendrils of smoke lifting towards the darkening sky. Deeper within her mind other creatures stir, drawn to wakefulness by the fading of the sun as distant drums sound a slow rhythm. Her thoughts are timeless, her mind vast as she continues to move. Sienna, meanwhile, continues to lean against her green's side and look down at F'dan. She smiles. "You're a fine man, F'dan, and no one is without their faults. It's all in the choices we make." She listens to his list of happy things, a light blush touching her cheeks as she's included in that. "That's a good list," she murmurs. Looking up again as the brown firelizard returns, Sienna smiles and reaches up to take the odd looking cloth. Walking over to F'dan she crouches, holding it out towards him. Turns out it is a tunic, a purple one of soft cloth. Oldtime, by the cut of it. "Keso dunked it and then took it between a few times, so it's nice and chilled. It'll help," she murmurs. "And when it gets too warm, he'll take it and do it again." The brown seems plenty pleased with himself as he perches on Kehemath's neckridges and preens. Sienna sits down on the stone ground a few feet away from F'dan, and smiles at his question. "Lots of things," she admits. "Being with you, even in the midst of a sandstorm. Good friends. Kehemath, and flying, when it's just the two of us and we can get lost together. Making my cheeses, when I have time to focus on something and I'm not pulled in different directions. Knowing I've done a good job. Helping people. The twins, when W'rin has time, family. Dancing." That last is said wistfully. "There is never enough dancing. Swimming, the beach, sunbathing…goodness, there are so many things that make me happy."

"Apparently my faults are a bit worse than average if my reception at Igen is anything to go by." F'dan sounds surprisingly low at the idea. The tunic is a welcome distraction and he takes it with a big grin for Sienna. "That's kind of you. Thanks." It feels amazing pressed lightly against his nose, the cold bringing some relief from the pain. Hopefully it will stop the swelling from continuing too, because F'dan is starting to look like the Michelin man. For a long moment he just enjoys it, eyes closing with relief, and Kadanth twists his muzzle to whuffle at Kehemath's jaw in thanks, half-expecting to smell sage in the tangible world. "It's been hard moving here," F'dan says finally, eyes still shut. "If Mayte has her way and W'rin demotes me or grounds me I don't know how I'd sharding cope. I know she hates me apparently but I'm good at my job. I'm great at my job. I know I can make Igen better."

Sienna smiles softly. “Give people time. My reception to Igen wasn’t great either. Igen is…different. You have to adjust to Igen because Igen won’t adjust to you.” She smiles warmly when the tunic seems to be helping, leaning back with her hands bracing herself against the stone floor. “You’re welcome.” Kehemath shifts a bit in her doze, gently nuzzling Kadanth while her mind-self pauses to howl happily at the moons before moving on. “Mmm,” Sienna murmurs. She takes a slow breath, her expression shifting a bit to one of sadness now that he can’t see her. “Yeah,” she agrees quietly. “I know what you mean.” Her move wasn’t easy either. “You must have left a lot behind in Reaches. It’s hard to start over.” Her voice is quiet and sympathetic, but knowing too. She is quiet for another moment. “W’rin makes his own decisions. And even if he did punish you, you’d find ways to cope. But he’s not about to ground a perfectly good rider. I…can’t imagine him doing that. We need riders.” Another pause. “How can you make Igen better?”

F’dan opens his eyes, not that he can see that much around the puffiness of his face and the tunic pressed to it. “Sorry, that was a sharding terrible thing to say. After you… after what you went through.” Was that a moment of self-awareness or even compassion from F’dan?! He’s certainly not lingering on it, shifting to get slightly more comfortable on the stone floor. A look of surprise is given to Kadanth, who seems to be edging closer and closer towards Kehemath, his half-closed eyes a slow viscous whirl of deep content. “Are they cuddling?” Another roll of his hips, another hiss of pain and F’dan’s propped himself so he can see Sienna properly. “That was melodramatic of me. I’m sure W’rin won’t keep a dragon on the ground who’s able to meet Thread. I’m just — I don’t understand why Mayte hates me so much. We’d only met twice before. And one of those times was nice.” A shake of his head as if to banish those thoughts, replacing them instead with business, the ideas he formulates late at night in his weyr with his face in records. This is obviously his baby at the moment — far more so than the real one. “We need to get you and the other weyrlingmasters up to date on ‘Reaches training. There’s nothing like it on Pern and we have several transfer riders who can fill you in. Not that there isn’t a lot you can improve on, but it’s a great starting point.” Again — who is this man and what has he done with grumpy, nasty F’dan?! “Discipline needs to be stronger, across the wings. W’rin’s got Whirlwind in hand and Arroyo doesn’t know what’s hit it with Zeyta, but the rest of them need a short sharp shock. Get some order back into them.” At some point F’dan must have come under the impression he’s been counting, because three fingers are held out here. “Someone needs to get over to Telgar yesterday and find out what the shards they did to win the Weyrgames. To turn their flying around like that — something’s changed, and it’s changed fast. If that hasn’t already affected their Threadfighting potential, it will. If it worked for them it can work for us.” And he’d better stop there before he goes into the Detailed Plan which is even longer.

Sienna shakes her head with a gentle smile. “It’s fine, F’dan. We’ve both been through a lot. What I went through doesn’t lessen what you’ve been through. But I understand.” Better than any Nowtimers, likely. She, too, turns to look at their lifemates and laughs quietly. Kehemath has twisted a bit, snuggling up against the bronze’s massive side, her tail flicked over his, muzzle nudging at his leg a bit and then settling again with a deeply contented sigh. Little wiggle. And settled again. “Yes,” Sienna says, both amused and surprised, and wondering why Kehemath has warmed to Kadanth so fast. That look at her sleeping dragon is loving and open, and she chuckles softly to herself before looking back at F’dan with a warm smile. It sobers a bit at his next words. “I don’t know,” she admits. “I can’t imagine how anyone could dislike you.” Given how nice he’s been to her! It’s baffling. “Perhaps it’s just different views on things.” Sitting up then, she crosses her legs and rests her arms over her knees, watching and listening closely, nodding along as he speaks. “We have some notes from High Reaches but I’ll admit they seemed…incomplete. I don’t feel like we’ve ever gotten a good ‘bigger picture’ of their training. There are specifics, but without the whole, they seem very fragmented.” Another nod for talk of the wings - not her place, not her job - and then she smiles. “You think someone can just fly into Telgar and ask what they did, and they’ll happily hand it over? Might need to be a bit more…covert than that, I would think.” She pauses. “Or maybe just find a lone Telgar rider, put some drinks in front of him and let him brag about it. Because surely they must be feeling very full of themselves right now.”

F'dan reaches up a hand to scritch along Kadanth's jaw, scratching at the supple hide. Strange that he'd never show a speck of interest in a green and then end up dozing half-curled with one. He's always been a solitary creature, and here he is almost asleep, a low almost-purr of pleasure in his chest. Letting their bond open wider F'dan is suffused with a rush of warmth that tingles over his skin; his face when he turns back to Sienna is more peaceful, pain still there but eased. “Mayte met me right when I first arrived. I was probably… more abrasive. You know, about women. About Igen. I'm sure she has her reasons.” He shrugs, hand falling from Kadanth's jaw to brush at the desert dust on the ground. “Sounds like Reaches weyrlinghood is going downhill since Q'ila and Vienn died,” he says, tracing formation shapes with his fingertip. “What you need is to talk to any Reaches transfers who trained under Q'ila. There are a handful of us. Get together what it was like, what he was like, what we did. Every last drill. We all remember. You don't forget things you work that hard at.” A little smile and he looks up at her again. “And then, you know, make it actually work for women. Q'ila could have drawn blood from a stone but I don't remember him inspiring female weyrlings.” He turns his face down again, silence hanging for a long moment as he draws out a random pattern that quickly reveals itself as a map of Telgar's territory. “If we were better people we'd share it. Screw the Weyrgames – we need every Weyr flying at its best.” He snorts at that. “Unfortunately we're only men. Altruism isn't the defining human trait.” A vicious scrub of his hand and Telgar is eradicated, F'dan looking up so eyes fix on Sienna's. It's the first time that the hardness in him has been visible in front of her, his eyes opening up onto an unyielding, merciless force. “If we need covert, we do covert. If we need to trick them, we trick them. We need that information, Sienna, before we have another half the Weyr scored or gone between. Fall's going to get heavier. We’re going to be ready.”

Sienna smiles, turning her attention to Kehemath again, letting herself momentarily be pulled into her lifemate’s mind. Rosemary mingles with sage as Kehemath’s mind-self continues to travel through their mixed forest, weaving in and out of trees and playfully snapping at the heels of critters who bolt off the path. SHe’s not hungry, she doesn’t hunt, she is content and playful. When F’dan speaks again Sienna pulls herself back into the present and the rosemary fades from Kehemath’s mind. She nods. “If you can get me a list of who those riders are, I can organize a meeting with you all and the Weyrlingstaff to talk about things.” She nods again with a small smile. “There’s not much difference between training men and women you know. I think the harder task is making it work for Igen.” She chuckles softly, almost sadly, and nods. “I am amazed in just 400 turns at how much knowledge was lost. The things I thought were common knowledge, the things I thought were recorded so well, gone, because people refused to share. It’s a shame when it’s weyr pitted against weyr, instead of all the weyrs working for Pern.” She shrugs with a soft exhale of breath. “But that’s a naive view, I know. People don’t work that way. People don’t share unless there’s something in it for them.” She lifts her gaze to meet his eyes, and she doesn’t flinch from the hardness there. He’ll see some of it reflected in her own dark eyes. A stubbornness, a determination, and a desire. “You should talk to W’rin about that. As much as I’d like to volunteer, Telgar isn’t going to open up to a female greenrider,” she says with a small smirk. It still irks her, her lack of respect elsewhere on Pern. She wants to help, to be involved, and she can’t be. Unless she just happens upon a lone Telgar rider. Then she’d at least try!

Whether it's Sienna's soothing effect on him or the warmth Kadanth is sharing with Kehemath, F'dan's defences are entirely undone. “We made it as hard for the girls as we could,” he says, honestly and with regret for the lost potential that might almost be read as compassion. Imagining Sienna as one of those girls, taunted and ostracised, sets guilt curdling in his belly. “The Weyr thought that if we rode them harder than anyone else they'd be forced into being as good as a man.” He shrugs. “Didn't work. Just left them scared and cornered. The best ones fought back, but I don't think it made them better riders. However we felt about them impressing they should have been focussed on fighting Thread, not their wingmates.” Not a man to enjoy ruminating over his own mistakes however he instead goes back to his dust-drawing, sweeping his canvas fresh again so he can go back to wing formations, each drilled so deep into him that he can complete them without thinking or looking at what his hands are doing. Sienna's eyes are too interesting to look away from anyhow: for a long moment F'dan's utterly caught on her, an intensity in his look that skirts so close to being dangerous that he finally pulls himself back with a jerk. “I'll tell W'rin,” he says with a nod, voice suddenly clipped and official. “And if he wants it – if he gives the order – I'll do it. I'm good with Weyrs that aren't Igen.” He smiles at her, but the look has a slow-building darkness in it, an enjoyment that looks a lot like Kadanth's bloodlust when he goes in for the kill. “In every Weyr there's someone who hates their home. Who has a grudge. Someone who's waiting for a new best friend to spill all their little secrets to. I don’t know who they are yet, but they’re there. Waiting.”

Sienna’s eyes watch him, and all she does is nod as he speaks. No judgement, no demands for apology, nothing but listening and understanding, and appreciating that now he sees it. Now he gets it. Her eyes drop to the ground when he starts doodling the wing formations, and she can’t help but smile. Wing formations. W’rin’s first love. She meets his gaze again, watching, not drawing back from his intensity. Even when it seems to shift a bit, she doesn’t look away. She trusts him, yes, but she also trusts herself and Kehemath, who shifts slightly against Kadanth. “I think you should do it,” she finally says, her voice low. “You would be good at it. You could play that part very well. Get what Igen needs.” She pauses. “You want to be the one to do it.” It’s a guess, but passed off as a statement.

F'dan only just got around to making a sort-of admittance of his own bad behaviour, which hasn't happened a lot in his three decades. Being pushed into an apology would only have raised his hackles like a cornered canine. But quiet understanding and forgiveness – shards, Sienna's perfect. He forces himself to imagine W'rin punching him in exquisite detail: the taste of his own blood, the feel of spitting out a tooth, pain one heckuva lot worse than just smashing his face on Kadanth's hide. Making a move on Sienna is literally more than his life is worth. “Thanks,” he says, keeping his voice strictly professional and not at all like a teenage boy watching the most perfect girl at the Gather. “I think I'd be good at it.” He has a track record of befriending people only to stab them in the back after all. The best betrayals always come from people who wormed their way into your trust first. To Sienna's not-quite-question he makes a non-commital gesture. “Number one rule of leadership and putting ideas forward: you don't suggest anything that you wouldn't volunteer to do yourself.” It's given some thought though, F'dan keeping himself busy and eyes away from Sienna by checking on the state of his nosebleed. It seems to have more or less stopped, which is a relief. “Might be some better candidates. Someone who transferred out of Telgar on good terms. Someone born there. Someone with family.” But people seem to feel strangely averse to screwing over their own family members, so that might be a no-go.

Sienna has no idea what imaginings are going on within F’dan’s mind. Not unless Kadanth shared them with Kehemath would she know the internal battle he’s waging. “I think you would too,” she agrees. Quiet for a moment, she smiles. “Exactly. I’d never ask a Weyrling to do anything I wasn’t willing to do, and Kehemath and I almost always demonstrate first before having them do it.” She watches him check his nose. “How’s it doing? Do you need Keso to make the tunic cold again?” That tunic was, alas, one of her favorites in the oldtime. But…it’s just too flashy of a cut for Nowtime, with its wrap around, curve hugging structure and low cut v-neckline. “Mmm, but if they are from Telgar they might not feel so good about tricking their old wingmates. No, I think an outsider would do best. Be the most successful at it. I still think finding a rider alone, away from Telgar would be ideal. It’s harder to give up secrets with your weyr watching.”

Kadanth would no more share F'dan's desires with Kehemath than he would tattle about what F'dan wants for breakfast. It's not that he's particularly good at keeping secrets – he finds the whole idea of secrets about emotions strange. Humans might be beloved but they are different. No, for now F'dan is saved by the fact that Kadanth simply couldn't give two shards about it. Instead the man stews alone, thankfully unaware just how provocative the garment he's holding to his face is or else he might get another nosebleed. “It's fine,” he says with a shake of his head that he quickly reconsiders, keeping his face very still. “This can't last forever, right?” Right?! Reaches boys don't exactly have a lot of experience of sandstorms. For all knows he could be trapped here for days. Days, with Sienna. Just the two of them. All alone. Getting bored. Getting lonely. Getting – W'rin kicking him in the balls. W'rin beating the everloving shards out of him in the Bowl. W'rin throwing him off a ledge. W'rin chopping him into tiny little pieces and sprinkling him into the rest-day stew. Mental “danger of death” warning sign attached to Sienna, F'dan brings his knees up before him, wrapping his free arm about them. “Well, I don't have any love lost for Telgar. And I'm pretty… single-minded about what I want.” Hence the iron grip on himself in the form of lurid W'rin-imaginings. “I'll run it past W'rin. It's the Weyrleader's call. Don't want to go creating some diplomatic incident.” Initiative is a double-edged blade after all.

Sienna shakes her head. “No, it can’t last forever, though this is one of the longest ones I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what’s going on with our weather.” She shifts again, pushing to her feet, uncomfortable on the stone floor, and peers further into the darkness of the cave. “Did you hear something?” Kehemath’s eyes open and her head lifts, rumbling softly as she takes a scent of the air in the cave, but it’s difficult to identify anything other than dirt and sand and electricity and F’dan’s blood.

“One day,” F'dan begins with a little groan. “One day, please, without talking about whatever's happening to the crops. The blunder or the bite or whatever it is.” Blight, but nice try F'dan. Not bad for someone Weyrbred who is interested in crop production only inasmuch as they like eating pickled tubers. Thankfully no one's treated to F'dan's complaints about endless sweeps over fields – instead he's up on his feet in a second, instinctively taking a step beyond Sienna to place himself between her and the darkness. A brain that evolved on the plains hundreds of thousands of millennia ago rattles into action before F'dan's even aware of it, Kadanth's size calculated (too big to go further into the cave) and options assessed (breathing fire isn't useful in contained spaces). “What did you hear?” His own ears and eyes strain against the dark, and behind him Kadanth twists his neck to look past Kehemath, eyes suddenly wide open and his tail flicking protectively over hers. Which is great and all, but there’s just not that much further he can go in, so let’s just hope whatever it is out there can be scared away by a stare.

Sienna shifts, moving up beside F’dan rather than hiding behind him, her belt knife in her hand without her even realizing it. Kehemath shifts, her tail sliding out from beneath Kadanth’s as she pushes to her feet with a low, pulsing growl. She could go a little further into the cave but not much, as she takes two steps to stand behind the riders, growling again, the sound echoing in the cave and making hearing anything else impossible. She stops at a mental nudge from Sienna, and instead the only sound she makes is the sniffing as she tries to place the scent. “Movement,” Sienna responds quietly, shifting to the balls of her feet.

Kadanth is extremely unhappy with this whole situation. He's silent as the dead, but every inch of him quivers with tension, strength bunching in heavy haunches as if he'll – what? Bash himself uselessly against the rock? Having the humans and Kehemath helpless between him and whatever it is has agitation rolling off him like an invisible mist, seeping into riders and dragon alike. His mindforest is suddenly very dark, the woods seeming to eat the light, and the leaf canopy far away is moving as if something impossibly large is coming closer.

F'dan doesn't look to Sienna or to Kehemath: his eyes are fixed forward, his own knife drawn. He hopes to Faranth he doesn't have to use it – not because he's unwilling to cause pain (he's extremely sharding willing to cause pain to something that attempts to hurt Sienna) but because he knows he won't be very good at it. He grew up kept safe by the threat of his seventy-foot flying death machine and the taboo against killing a rider. Knife fight training took a very, very low place on his list of priorities. The tunic is tossed behind them into the dust (sorry Sienna) so he can see, well, still nothing. But he's ready to see. “You think we can get out of the cave?” he murmurs very, very quietly. He doubts it, given the howling of the wind and the stinging he can feel against his-Kadanth's mind, as real as if it's on his own flesh.

Sienna shakes her head slightly, her reply a soft, “No.” Then several things happen at once. In the same instant two pairs of glowing golden eyes open in the depths of the cave Kehemath snarls, teeth gnashing as she pushes forward to try and get to them. Her body wedges into the narrowing entrance like a cork in a bottle and she has to scramble backwards so she doesn’t trap Sienna and F’dan in a more confined space with the creatures. Her whirling eyes open wider and penetrate the darkness, the shifting red and orange casting eerie shadows over the bodies of the two half starved, mangy felines. Her mind-self howls in anger and frustration at being kept from her prey and unable to protect her rider. Felines in Igen? Sienna barely has time to contemplate the oddity of that fact before the felines lunge forward, fight or flight instinct turned into fight by the smell of blood and the thought of prey. Sienna shifts backwards but does not have time to flee to the safety of her lifemate before one of the felines has bowled her over onto the ground, the second and larger one aiming for F’dan.

F'dan has time. F'dan has what feels like an eternity. He sees the feline hit Sienna in slow motion, and is struck in that bizarre stillness by flashes of beauty: the glint of light on the creature's claws, the way Sienna's body falls with impossible grace. The feline that turns its eyes on him is close enough that he imagines he can see the flecks of deeper colour in its irises. Yes, F'dan has time, the time to get behind Kehemath and keep himself and Kadanth safe. The urge not to be mauled and torn apart is almost overwhelming. It claws at him like a terror in the night. Go, go, go, the voice says – but F'dan doesn't have the option of listening. It's not a decision at all. Just suddenly he's launching towards the writhing mess of Sienna-feline, trying to push that thing off of her. Mid-air he's aware of a huge impact to the side of him, the larger feline shoving him off course. Perhaps he succeeds in stopping the first feline ripping Sienna open, but F'dan can't tell: he's suddenly part of a big rolling ball of feline and man, desperately clinging onto his knife, and everything hurts and Kadanth is screaming – or he's screaming – and the air stinks of blood and dust and something he's sure is ichor.

Sienna screams, her sound mixed with the other screams that echo in the cave. Wild, feral sounds torn from the throats of dragon, man and feline alike. Knocked heavily to the ground, Sienna nearly has the wind knocked out of her as she falls, gasping for breath. She holds her knife tightly in her fist. She knows knife tactics, she learned defense, her thoughts tell her what to do and her muscles attempt to respond, but she finds her right arm unable to move. Is it the weight of the feline against it? Or are those claw marks running down her bicep laying her open nearly to the bone? She feels nothing but Kehemath’s rage storming in her mind. She writhes, pushing at the feline’s throat, managing to keep snapping jaws from closing around her face. In the tight cavern Kehemath twists, turning around, hide scraping against the wall until she’s backwards and her tail thrashes out at the feline attacking her rider, but she misses.

If the felines were at full fighting fitness F'dan and Sienna would be dead. The weight is a heavy certainty in F'dan's chest, the only reason that as he and the animal hit the cave wall he manages to shove the thing off him. He's aware of scratching and a hot wetness over his chest – shouldn't have left those leathers undone – but there's no time to think, scrabbling back to raise his arms and half push the beast off, half slash with his knife. Sienna's scream echoes in his head, all mixed up with Kadanth's agony and Kehemath's roar and the sound of teeth on flesh. His flesh. There's a feeling of great pressure in his hand, and for a moment F'dan's only stupid thought is – he just healed that. The beast tugs, but all of a sudden there's no pain, none at all. Perfectly clearheaded, suddenly detached, F'dan stabs the beast through the eye repeatedly, keeping stabbing over and over until he's covered in a mess of gore, half-trapped under the twitching body of the feline. It feels light, as he pushes it off; in fact, all of him feels all right. It's as if his body doesn't belong to him. Reality only comes back with a jerk when he looks to Sienna, and even that doesn't bring F'dan back – it brings something far older and more basic to the surface. He launches himself at the beast on top of her, as much a wild animal as the feline itself. He'll rip its sharding throat out with his own teeth if he has to.

Sienna shifts, squirming beneath the feline as she switches her blade from right to left. Her left hand then jerks upwards in a vicious stab to its chest, slightly off center from the sternum, striking it through the heart with an accuracy that could have only come from Kehemath’s double vision, the green guiding the rider in the hunt and fight for survival. The beast does not die quietly though, claws scraping against Sienna’s body as it’s life’s blood pulses out over Sienna, teeth clamping onto her right shoulder and holding there until F’dan’s hit sends the beast, and him, likely, sprawling to the side. Sienna is left panting on the the ground, dark eyes staring up at the ceiling as she lays there in a pool of blood. Kehemath whines, squirms, protests the narrowness of the cavern as she tries to get to her rider, but Sienna’s thoughts meld with hers, the greenrider’s eyes vacant as she loses herself to the forest of her green’s mind, away from the pain and shock of her injuries.

F'dan begins to notice that something is wrong as he picks himself up but the pain doesn't register yet. He feels very light, almost as if he's made of clouds, and it's very warm and moist in here all of a sudden. He's aware of the dragons' noises and, louder still, the pain and distress radiating off them – he's sure even a holdbred could feel it. Everything though feels very quiet. His roll has brought him close to Kehemath and he strokes the green's hide as he walks past with an absent familiarity he's only used on Kadanth before. He's too shell-shocked for anything else. » It's okay, « he thinks, to everyone and no one in particular. » It's okay. « Though it's not, evidently not as he falls to his knees beside Sienna. “Sienna,” he says very quietly. “Sienna, sweetheart.” He brushes his dropped knife away, though it's the most pointless gesture in the world. “Sienna? Stay with me.” The discarded tunic is picked up and tied in a clumsy tourniquet around her upper arm, F'dan's fingers moving deftly no matter how much it hurts. Well, almost all of his fingers. Some are – but F'dan pushes that thought away for another time. It's scarily easy to do. “No one can between here with that storm,” he says, voice a cracking attempt at a healer's singsong calm. “Not even if I had a sharding clue where we are. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to put you on Kadanth, sweetheart, and we're going to go between the second we're airborne. He's so big you won't even feel the wind.” That's absolute runner manure, but at least F'dan's pretty sure it'll be less suicidal than taking her up on Kehemath in winds like this. “We're going to get you home and safe, sweetheart. Sienna?”

Kehemath growls softly as F’dan touches her, but it’s a sound not born of heat or defense, it’s a sound born of stress and fear and pain. Thankfully, though she’s green, she’s never been prone to panic and she holds her mind locked tightly with Sienna’s, rather than cause additional trauma by thrashing or spiraling into a panic that only a queen could soothe. Sienna’s dark eyes draw back from Kehemath’s mind slightly to focus on F’dan, but the instant she does the pain hits her and her eyes unfocus quickly, back into the safety of Kehemath’s forest. The green whines, body shifting against the stone. Sienna whimpers softly when he ties the tourniquet, but thanks to Kehemath her pain isn’t as bad as it could be. It’s the shock and not wanting to come back into her right mind that’ll be the problem. She tries again though as he continues to say her name, and tears come to her eyes. This time she forces herself to focus on him, though her breath catches and her face pales with the pain of it. “F’dan…” she whimpers. She doesn’t know a word he just said, comprehension beyond her, but she trusts him. That’s what her pained expression reads - trust and pleading. She needs him to do something, because she can’t do anything for herself.

All those turns of special training for bronzeriding boys at Reaches seem to have kicked in – or else F'dan's just so swamped in adrenaline that he's lost the ability to feel pain entirely. A quarter candlemark, he thinks to himself, forcing his mind to stop wandering where it goes dreamy at the edges. A quarter candlemark and he'll feel more pain than he can imagine, so this quarter has to count. “Kehemath, please tell them we're coming,” he says in a louder voice with only the tiniest wobble. He assumes the dragons have been shouting at the top of their mindvoice lungs, but he wants to be sure. He tilts his head to look at the green, trying to feel as hard as he can reassurance and apology and care. Kadanth is doing it too, a strange mind-echo that gives F'dan vertigo. “It's going to hurt. I promise you I'm taking care of her.” And then gritting his teeth, more against the sounds he knows Sienna will make than the weight of her, he lifts Sienna into his arms. He murmurs constantly as he walks her towards Kadanth, hoping Kehemath will move to let him past instead of attacking him out of fear and love. “It's okay. It's okay. I've got you. Nothing's going to hurt you anymore.”

Kehemath shifts backwards with a low rumble, her muzzle wuffling with a low whine when F’dan lifts Sienna and she cries out in pain at the movement. The green’s mind stretches back to Igen, seeking the minds of those she knows and trusts, conveying messages, having Healers at the ready. Sienna’s face pales and she almost blacks out, Kehemath’s tail lashing as both green and rider force themselves back into the present, no matter how much it hurts. As F’dan moves past Kehemath follows, dogging his heels with worried whines and soft whimpers as Sienna bites her lip to try and keep from making too much noise. Still, tears are streaming from the corners of her eyes as she looks up at him. Struggling, she manages to pull herself together with shallow breaths to ask, “Are you okay?”

Kadanth may have stopped screaming but he's not looking fantastic. In a desperate attempt to get into the cave he has rubbed his jaw and muzzle raw on the rock, a thin sheen of ichor over the scratched hide. His great head is tilted to F'dan, nose pressed as close as he can without touching to check that his lifemate is whole, in one piece. F'dan inclines his head slightly, touching his dragon's muzzle for the briefest of moments with his forehead. “I'm fine,” he says reassuringly to Sienna, his swollen nose and lip suddenly the least concerning thing about his appearance. With so much blood everywhere any particular wounds are more or less hidden, thankfully. “Don't you worry about me. Save that for when W'rin gets hold of me.” A weak grin and he braces her against Kadanth's side, one leg raised to prop against her as he takes a deep breath. “Right. You ready?” He doesn't wait for her to confirm, because if she's not what can he do? Wait here while she bleeds to death? Instead he tips her over his shoulder, cringing at how much he knows it will hurt, and pulls them both up onto Kadanth's neck. It's quite a climb on a bronze, and painfully slow. Sometimes F’dan grips a loop wrong and touches something that sends a spark of agony down his arm. When they reach the top he's pale and sweating, eyes glassy with pain, and his smile at her as he settles her down looks like a dead man's grimace. “Almost there. You're doing good. So good.” An absent-minded kiss is pressed to her forehead as he straps her in, letting her lean forward against a neckridge as he disappears down again. When he returns their helmets and his gloves, all of which he deposits into a strapbag, and his goggles which he slides over Sienna's head with incredible tenderness. “There you go.” No passenger straps so he squeezes himself in behind Sienna, wrapping his arms around her half as support and half so he can grip the belt of the straps where it circles her. Well – kind of grip. Kind of. Because – No, not that, not now. “You'd better enjoy this, huh? Never gonna happen again.” But the joke rings hollow and F'dan's eyes are already on Kehemath, checking to see if she's ready.

Sienna smiles weakly. “W’rin will thank you,” she whispers. At least that’s what she can only assume will happen. It’s hardly either of their fault that this happened. She gasps and cries out when he puts her over his shoulder, gritting her teeth against the pain as Kehemath whines loud, pulsing sounds. Sienna does black out for a few moments, with the blood rushing to her head and then leaving it, compounded by the pain and her own blood loss. SHe comes to on the bronze’s neck and gives F’dan a worried look. He’s not fine. But she can’t do anything about it. She closes her eyes at his kiss and leans against the bronze’s neckridge, fingertips lightly caressing his hide in silent thanks and apology, echoed also by Kehemath. She laughs softly at his attempt at a joke, but has no reply as Kehemath crouches, ready. As ready as she’s going to be. Only her rider leaving would get her out into that vicious storm, and her muscles tense for the blast she knows she’s about to receive. She knows, somehow, that it’s going to hurt. There’s no other outcome. Yet she is ready.

F'dan is sharding terrified for Kehemath. There's blood and there's pain and then there's that, a terror far beyond death itself, the potential that they could jump into the sky above Igen and that Kehemath might not join them. As Kadanth moves out from the mouth of the cave, hurrying to leave the smell of blood and ichor, F'dan looks back to Kehemath with pure fear on his face for the first time. The winds are still ludicrously strong even for the much bulkier Kadanth and visibility is at almost zero. Their options are getting enough height to between safely and risk being thrown into the rock face by a rogue gust, or jumping far, far earlier than F'dan's ever jumped before. One last look and F'dan squeezes his eyes tight-shut against the sand, feeling Kadanth shift his weight downwards, coiling power in his haunches.

« Igen, » Kadanth thinks to Kehemath, the great forest whipped to a rage by the same wind that attacks his hide, the sand of the body-word slipping between cracks to manifest in his mind. There's another message too, though it's whipped by the winds of worry and pain, stripped of words and left as only a feeling: to stay close, to not get lost in the dark. Not yet.

“You're safe,” F'dan says against Sienna's ear, as much for his benefit as hers. The words probably don't even reach her: a howl of wind and Kadanth is throwing himself into the sky, bellowing as a great gust tosses him sideways. Great wings struggle to lift them up, straining against the currents, F'dan holding onto Sienna as if his life depends on it (which, without being strapped in, it does) – and then they disappear from the sky.

Sienna is just aware enough to be afraid. Her eyes unfocus, mind locking with her green's in a throw back to weyrlinghood when they couldn't tell each other apart. It does them well now, one locked to the other. Sienna's left hand weakly grips the straps while she cradles her right across her abdomen and F'dan's arms, not looking at it. All she can do is close her eyes.

Kehemath steadies herself, her mind locked to Sienna's and to Kadanth's as he springs into the wind blown sky. She follows, blown sideways and her mind is fierce and stony, stubborn. She will not die this day! As soon as Kadanth goes, the sand swept green follows into the blackness.

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