Who

L'ri, Zannen

What

An expedition to the Hold ends badly.

Violence, death, suggestive comment, minor gore.

When

It is the eighty-fifth day of Summer and 25 degrees. It's cold.

Where

Ice Stream, Southern Barrier Hold

OOC Date

 

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Ice Stream

Seemingly frozen in time, a ribbon of water moves from under the vastness of the glacier itself, carving a wide cave leading into the bowels of the glacier itself. Ice coats the river and often sheets over in a thin and dangerous veneer of stagnant movement… but for those who look closely, under that sheen of ice the water runs swiftly, perhaps melted by the tectonic fires hidden deep below the rocky expanse. Trodden by unnamed creatures a path winds along the side of the stream, creating an easy pathway upwards and into the glacier itself.


It's not every day that sees L'ri outside the weyr to visit somewhere where family (or a certain Tlatoani woman) is not. Today is one of those uncommon days, however — in that he's found himself asked to help with some crafter-sort of thing. Not something he himself is familiar with although he got the general drift; but something he's more than willing to help out with. They've been in the Hold area for a while now — long enough to join the Hold's folk for lunch time, and long enough to be dratted tired of being cold. The Ice Stream itself is new territory out of much of it — and territory they've only recently arrived at. One gloved hand fiddles with something, even as a wry little grin crosses his face. "Finding anything interesting?" Cignalusath has since abandoned them; but is within easy recall, should they need a ride.

Zannen could swear his entire world is being re-written. It's summer…and yet all the way out here, he finds himself bundled up in fleece and wherhide up to the top of his head. His breath billows from his mouth and nostrils in a thick white cloud, and he's tramping alongside an ice-crusted stream flowing outward from a glacier, of all things. It's all quite beautiful…but the Seacrafter does not like winter in the middle of his summer, thank you! The upside of his Hall sending him all the way out here for fishery investigations is that Southern paired him up with a bronzerider to get where he needed to go, and the man seems an interesting fellow, at least. "Findin' it cold as between when it ought'nt be, sir," Zannen returns with a smirk as he makes his way up in the direction of the glacier. "Hopefully I will soon though, so we can get outta this. Can't rush a fish run, after all." Which probably makes no sense to a non-Crafter, but he's not taking that into consideration right now. "Like fishin' at all?" he asks as he moves along, eyes darting along the roiling water in hopes of catching any contrary motion.

Most of what Zannen has to say is lost on L'ri, who settles for a placating "oh, I see." He doesn't really. "I like fishing, yeah. My weyr's at a damn good place for it too. All I gotta do is walk out on the ledge and cast a line." He's done that a few days, but mostly just for fun. Less now than he had before, however. "You heard much about this Hold?" Inquiring minds like to know, and all that; and L'ri has always been something of a curious sort. Not because he intends to spread rumors; but because he himself is curious. The object in his hand is fiddled with some more, but idly, as if in the last candlemark or two it's become habit. Really, he could have stayed in the Hold while the apprentice went about his business — but where would have been the fun in that? He wanted to get out! So here he is, listening to crafter-talk he really doesn't understand, but at least fishing itself is one thing he does! "What about you? I mean, I assume you do, but.."

"Sounds like a prime spot," Zannen says with a grin, wobbling a little on a patch of ice and swearing under his breath until he gets firm footing again. "If I was a rider, it's a spot I'd go after. 'n' yeah, I like fishin' alright. Y' spend yer whole life doin' somethin'…it just becomes pretty ordinary, I guess." In other words, he's pretty neutral about the whole thing. "Prefer swimmin' with the dolphins more, myself." The young sailor stops and crouches down beside a particularly active spot in the stream, blue eyes keenly watching the rapids. He has a feeling about this spot… He remembers the bronzerider's previous question and makes a casual look back over his shoulder. "Haven' heard much about here. Jus' that it isn' the safest place t'be lately. Y'heard about what's been goin' on out here?" His eyes flick to the object L'ri fiddles with; he's curious, but doesn't ask what it is just yet.

"It is. I've a couple of wingmates, they're always wanting to come visit." L'ri rolls his eyes expressively, or well. As expressively as can be seen in full winter-time-freezing-cold garb. "Last time I let 'em, though, they broke shit. Ain't making that mistake again, for certain." Zannen probably has people he feels similarly about; but L'ri doesn't press. When the young seaman asks what he's heard, L'ri waves a hand. "It's hard to tell the fire from the smoke, where this place's concerned." He answers, casting a look about. Then he draws nearer. "Though some people say there's a killer on the loose. That there've been stabbings. The Weyrwoman's among one of the victims, though whether or not that was an accident…" He doesn't finish the sentence, leaving it open for speculation. "Some people say that those who were stabbed found a coin either in their rooms, or on their person after arriving at the Hold, though. A false mark, with a face on it. The eyes gouged out or some such thing." Fiddle, fiddle. He's almost unintentionally sinister, at the moment. Really, though, he's just lost in thought.

Is it unusually chilly today, moreso than usual? Or perhaps somewhere, somehow, someone is watching…

Zannen shivers a bit, though whether it's from the cold, L'ri's words, or something else entirely isn't clear. "That's what I've heard, too," he counters in a low voice, standing up again. "Includin' about the Weyrwoman. Y'mean t'say whoever's doin' all this might not've meant to go after her?" Targeting someone high profile like that makes sense to him… though what the purpose would be certainly doesn't. Murder period doesn't. His eyes flick to the bronzerider's fiddling fingers again. "Whatcha got there?" he inquires idly, for the moment distracted from his task. He glances around briefly, almost as if he might have heard something…but seeing nothing, he turns back to L'ri to hear his answers.

"Nah, I'm not saying that. I don't know enough.. But whoever it was was plain foolish t'go after her regardless." L'ri's smile is grim. "I'd like t'get my hands on the asshole responsible, but saying that to the Leadership would probably get me into trouble." But, you know. There are probably many riders who feel as L'ri does; and alternatively a few who feel as though the woman got what she deserved, for whatever reason. "Don't raise a fuss," is the bronzerider's immediate answer to the question, before he finally reveals the object in his hand: a mark, with the eyes gouged out. Considering what they've just been talking about, seeing the coin in L'ri's hand probably makes a bit more sense about why the topic was so much in his mind.

Certainly the topic being so easily present makes a bit more sense now, but seeing the false, eye-gouged mark certainly doesn't do anything to ease Zannen's nerves. His eyes widen a bit anxiously as he eyes the thing in L'ri's hand, and he swallows visibly. "I won't," he answers warily, "but it'll make me feel a whole lot better if y'tell me y'didn't find it in yer weyr, sir. Just…randomly lyin' around somewhere, like someone else was meant t'find it, mayhap." He finally pulls his gaze up from it, arching a brow at the bronzerider. A chill shoots up his spine again, and he shifts his shoulders against it. It's probably a safe bet to say it isn't just the cold that causes it this time.

Only belatedly does L'ri realize that there wouldn't be anyone to hear if Zannen did make a fuss over it — except Cignalusath, whom he's kept it from — but he doesn't correct his words now. "I didn't find it in my weyr." That should ease Zannen's nerves somewhat! "But I did find it on my person after we got here." Which would be perhaps why the bronzerider was so willing to come all the way out here, instead of sticking around in the Hold. Surely the killer won't come out here to find a marked victim? L'ri seems uneasy, though, now that Zannen knows. "I'm not the tiny little thing the Weyrwoman is; surely whoever the killer is I can handle, should they come after me out here." Surely.

Alright. Finding something on oneself upon arriving somewhere is quite possibly spookier than finding something odd in one's weyr. Or place of residence in general. Zannen shifts uneasily, squinting briefly at a rather perturbed firelizard flickering past overhead. It isn't his Mazu, so he doesn't think much of it. "Uh," he starts, his brow furrowing deeply, "that isn' much better. Y'sure y'don't wanna be hoppin' back on your dragon 'n' headin' back to Southern, sir? I mean, 'm sure y'can handle yerself, but findin' that… Not exactly comfortin', y'know? I can always come back later; this stream isn' lookin' too promisin' anyhow…" Not that he's been paying attention for the past several minutes.

"I'm sure." L'ri says firmly. "If we let that killer rule us with fear, we tell him or her we're weaker than they are. I refuse to let the image of dragonriders in general be seen as weak, if there's something I can do about it." The bronzerider is quiet for a few moments, staring at the coin, before he takes a few paces away and throws it, letting it fall where it may somewhere off in the snow. When nothing happens for a moment after, he relaxes a little. "Maybe the killer will forget who he/she was trying to kill, now." He says cheerfully, although it's a bit forced. "Now, were you wanting to go, or do you need a few more minutes?" The question is calm, but despite his relaxing a little, the rider's posture is still rather tense. "If you're wanting to head back, we'll have to head back along the glacier before Cig can come pick us up. I'm not sure the footing here is safe enough for him to try and land."

"'scuse me fer sayin' it, sir, but it's not weakness t'be careful. Y'can do that without seemin' afraid, 'm thinkin'. But that's me." Zannen looks a little sheepish after his assertion, reaching up to rub at his neck through his scarf. "'n' y'do have a dragon, which oughta be deterrent enough, aye?" Though the Weyrwoman has one of the biggest dragons there is, and that didn't seem to stop her from getting stabbed… He shakes his head and clears his throat. "Wouldn' mind movin' on at least. Nothin' standin' out t'me about this stream, so may as well," he says, turning to look up at the glacier and back along the path they just came down.

L'ri crooks a little grin. "Maybe you're right." It's all the concession the bronzerider gives, before he nods. "Let's then.. No use burning daylight if it can be helped." Not while they still have things to do. Places to go. People to see. Killers to…avoid. L'ri is the one to lead them toward the glacier, if only because he is so eager to be away from here. Despite all his posturing, he has no great desire to die today. Which is unfortunate, as he was tagged with a mark…and the eyes were gouged out. As the bronzerider walks the path back up by the glacier, a figure dressed all in black, draped in furs and heavy winter clothing and with a black cowl covering their head and features darts out from the shadows. Something shiny and dangerous-seeming glints in the person's hand.

Zannen trails L'ri by a a few steps, placing his feet carefully to avoid the iciest patches as they move back up along the glacier. Still, he keeps pace, eager to get elsewhere and growing unaccountably more uneasy by the moment. Well, perhaps not unaccountably; seeing that mark in L'ri's hand unsettled him more than he thought it might. It's one thing to hear a rumor and another to see evidence of the truth behind it. Suddenly there's someone there…and that someone quite clearly has a knife. The Seacrafter feels ice fit to match the temperature outside wash down his spine, and he freezes with it for a split second before automatically reaching out and yanking back on the bronzerider's arm. "Yer dragon!" he grits out, his voice pitching high with the onslaught of fear. "Call yer dragon!"

<Southern Weyr> Cignalusath senses that: Cignalusath is suddenly a raging inferno of fury; there are no words to accompany the bronze's sudden anger, merely the heat of the flame as it burns all in his mindscape that comes into contact with it. Pure fury. And the bronze doesn't care who else feels it, right now.

<Southern Weyr> Cignalusath senses that: Curled about the facade of stone might, Dhiammarath drifts in partial slumber where the presence of Southern's senior queen has not left the icy north since her lifemate was taken down. Rage and fury beats against the soothing quiet of stone lanterns that flicker in the twilight night. A soothing calm envelopes even as demand for understand rushes in a wash of jade. (Dhiammarath)

When they'd been talking about the killer, L'ri had somehow been able to distance himself from the reality of it all. As if there was really one, right? If there was, he could totally take that person on. Right? Now, faced with the reality that there is a killer, and that the killer is gunning for him… There's not time to think about it. Zannen's hollering at him to call his dragon; L'ri only has to drop the partial block he's put between his lifemate and himself. Not an easy thing to do when one is being attacked with a knife. "RUN!" L'ri snaps in reply shoving back at Zannen, the word harsher than he meant it to be. There's no time to worry over it; there is a knife, and the person behind it clearly knows how to use it. With the adrenaline rushing his veins, L'ri isn't even sure at the moment if he's already been cut or not. The crimson on the blade suggests someone has been, and recently. He throws a punch; the attacker dodges it, and just as suddenly as the attacker appeared, the person runs off again, disappearing into the expanse of snow and ice. L'ri lurches after the person. A mistake.

Cignalusath takes a chance, and lands precipitously nearby. His eyes swirl with red and orange, as he crouches protectively near his rider.

Zannen stumbles back with the shove the slightly older man deals him, the harshness of the command given not even registering beyond the haze of an adrenaline spike. Fingers that are cold in spite of the thick gloves he wears fumble at his belt in search of his own knife even as he backpedals. He's torn between obeying and rushing in to help…but he doesn't get much chance to fight with himself as he watches the attacker dart off and L'ri giving chase. "No, don't- agh!" Throwing his hands up in frustration, he starts forward himself, patches of ice thwarting faster progress. He glance toward the big bronze that he's finally noticed nearby. "C'mon!" he calls out to the dragon, not knowing whether he'll be heeded or not but compelled to try anyway. "Get after 'im, won'tcha? C'MON!"

L'ri doesn't make it far, but far enough that he's mostly obscured by glacial ice. His footing slips on a pach of ice he hadn't seen at just the wrong moment: perhaps sensing opportunity, the assailant awaited just beyond sight. L'ri did not make it far, not at all. By the time Cignalusath makes it to him, the killer is gone; and it is doubtless he deserves to be called a killer now. L'ri's clothing is darker in patches, too dark. Cignalusath bellows suddenly, a sorrowful, wretched sound, and disappears ::between::. By the time anyone reaches L'ri, all they'll find is his body…with a double tail sided coin placed haphazardly over one of his eyes. The killer, it would seem, is long gone.

Damn the cold for making him wear clothes he can't move properly with. Damn the ice that makes him slip along his path up and around. And damn the forces of nature that gave dragons the ability to utter such a soul-rending sound. Zannen's pace grinds to a halt just as L'ri's body comes into view…and just as Cignalusath takes to the air. That piteous, agonized keen will stay with Zannen for all his days, wrenching at him in such a way that a rough cry of his own is pulled out of him almost reflexively. In a blink, the bronze is gone forever, and the Seacrafter knows the man on the ground must be, too. "NonononoNO!" Ragged denial trails him as he shambles his way along the slick, snowy ground to the fallen bronzerider, dropping to his knees at his side. He yanks his gloves off, pulling ineffectually at L'ri and feeling for a pulse…but there is nothing. His life is spilled with the blood that turns white to crimson beside and beneath him. A stream of helpless cursing pours from the young man's mouth and he pounds once, twice at the packed snow with a fist, shouting rage into the harsh void of chilled air as he casts about wildly for any sign of the man. "What?? Can't stick round t'add another to yer list, coward?!" he screams to nothing. "Dammit!! Damn yer flamin' hide 'n' Thread take you 'n' all y'love, y'rank bastard!!!" Tears burn at his eyes for a man he's scarcely known, but he blinks them away. They'll freeze his eyes. All he can do now is call for his firelizard. There's a message to be relayed…and a way home to be sought.

<Southern Weyr> Cignalusath senses that: Cignalusath thinks « Rage is tempered, if only slightly. The demand for understanding is about to be answered: and then rage is replaced by sorrow, loss. The fires go out in a final explosion. There is no rekindling of the ever-present flame. A bellow of sorrow can be felt mentally as well as heard physically in the Ice Hold.. And then there is nothing. The fiery bronze is gone. »

<Southern Weyr> Cignalusath senses that: In those last seconds where the line between life and death is thinnest, memories surface and writhe, rekindled by the bronzes pain and sorrow. Sorrow of nearly losing the fragile life held within the Hold melds into the sorrow of losing one of her own. Cignalusath is one of hers, branded as such and cradled in the calm tranquility of a rock garden held in the cusp of twilight. Until only a whisper is left, a whisper that fades into the dark. It starts with Dhiammarath and eclipses outward, the wailing sounds of a death song. A dirge that shakes the very foundation of the Hold and causes the pale queen to curl even tighter around it. Is it accident that the exit is barred now? By the flat of a white-gold foot? Let the dirge begin and end only when the sorrow quakes the air. A life has passed; a candle in the wind, snuffed out. (Dhiammarath)

No one, nothing, answer the apprentice's words: there is only the harsh silence of winter, and ice. Keening of dragons can be heard from near and afar — the few dragons that happen to be nearby the Hold know what has happened…as do those at the Weyr. Or well. They know one of their own is gone forever.

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