Story of the Bandit Lord of Igen

Characters N'sir, R'sner
Synopsis N'sir tells R'sner an Igen story
Out-of-Character Date March 9 2019

Star Stones
Igen Weyr - Star Stones
A flat notch on the eastern rim of the bowl, this area is only large enough for two dragons to comfortably rest. Its primary purpose is long past, although the ancient star stones remain. Cut from the native sandstone and inset with metal so many ages ago to frame the pulsing red star above on the eve of a pass. The stone is ever so slowly eroding from the elements, but is nowhere near collapse. Never again shall the finger and eye rocks to align with that dreaded celestial body. Now this area serves mainly as the lonely watchdragons perch. The view from is spectacular. The bowl spreads out below to one side, and beyond that are seen the low weathered mountains and the shimmering yellow deserts. A small shed topped with a solar panel located against the rising rim of the bowl provides an air conditioned area for a rider to rest out of the heat of the day. A door in the stone wall near the shed leads to a winding spiral staircase that links many lengths below to the series of inner caverns. The view may be epic, but transport by rider is much more convinient than those winding endless stairs.

"The stories say," N'sir admits in quietly hushed tones. "That this bandit lord was the fiercest of men, dark and swarthy with a flashing smile that could charm the very soul of the desert, herself. And in return, she protected him, she sheltered him, she fed him, she kept him safely hidden from his enemies when they would take to the skies in hopes of capturing him. And there were many, at the time, bold young dragonriders all eager to make a name for themselves, pouring over the shifting sands, hoping against hope that they would spot the desert wolf. But," he adds in conspiratorial tones. "Little did they know they had already spotted him, and many, many a time. Because," he points out as he nestles back against R'sner's chest. "That fierce lone wolf was amongst them. It had started simply," he explains. "With the desire to know his enemy, to know how they think and what they felt. it had started with something as seemingly innocent as a trader in the living caverns. But," he adds. "What he had not expected? What had not occured to him? Was that he would enjoy the company of his prey. That he relish sitting alone in the shadows, watching the riders laugh and talk and live lives that were not at all what he had come to believe them to be."

R'sner is silent, attentive to the story and his weyrmate both. As N'sir settles back, he pulls him close, reaching out with one hand to draw the blanket over them as the night grows cooler. And while he is definitely enjoying the story, and curiosity is getting the better of him as he attempts to foresee where it is going, he remains quiet to allow N'sir to speak. Toith, however, is happy to add a throaty, grumbly sound into the mix, head turned to observe the riders briefly. Of course, she, being the temporary warlord of Igen that she is, is very interested in this desert bandit (totes on his side) and his tale.

"Everyday, the bandit lord would return to the living cavern," N'sir whispers in hushed tones. "Watching the men and woman go about their lives. Listening to the laughter and banter and, after he had raided, the worry that was expressed. Now and again, dragons would go up, brilliant shining green beauties taking to the skies to be pursued by their male counter parts. And the bandit lord would watch in fascination as the rider's danced the same dance within the confines of the caverns. He remained aloof, apart from the moment, until," N'sir whispers. "He found himself constantly watching the same rider. T'yis," N'sir provides. "Was as golden as the sands themselves. His hair fell in thick sunkissed curls nearly to the ground, and when he walked? Ahhh… When he walked, the bandit lord was /certain/ he could hear the call of the most distant, hidden oasis the desert had to offer. He was fascinated, of course, because he had never found himself so drawn to another. Worse," N'sir murmurs in those same hushed tones. "Was the fact that T'yis was the fiercest in pursueing the bandit lord. Many was the night that he, on green Flendreth, would chase the runner bound lord throught the sands. And many were the times that his arrows— T'yis being said to be the truest shot of all the dragonriders— nearly claimed the bandit lord's life. In fact," N'sir assures as he glances between Toith and R'sner. "The bandit bore a scar along the length of his left arm, from the kiss of T'yis' bow."

It is the mention of 'shining green beauties' that has Toith offering her two cents in a snort. She cannot contest it further, if just because Elianneth is by her side and Toith undoubtedly agrees that she, at least, is a beauty. From R'sner there is a little smirk, ironic amusement as he glances between the greens and then back to the desert. But there is a sound in his throat, something encouraging as he turns to nuzzle against his weyrmate's temple. "Poor bandit," comes in a quiet murmur, though it isn't meant to interrupt him, in a tone filled with wry amusement. "I think I know how he feels."

N'sir stretches out his legs, his ankles crossing as he folds his arms atop R'sner's and warms to his story. "While the bandit lord had intended to remain apart from the people around him, he could not resist the lure provided by T'yis. His laughter was sunlit on water and there was a joy that hovered around him like a palpable cloak. And T'yis? T'yis was not immune to the allure of the darkly handsome stranger that had taken up residence in Igen's living cavern. Eventually, they came to spend time together, always in the living cavern, laughing and talking and enjoying one anothers company. And so they danced," N'sir whispers as he lets his head drop back on R'sner's shoulder. "By day in laughter and light, and by night with adrenaline fueled chases over the shifting sands. Many was the time," he points out. "That T'yis would spot the desert lord in the distance, poised upon a dune just watching his dragon in flight. And many was the time that T'yis would pursue, not failing to note that that very same desert lordling would wait until he was just close enough… before racing into the shifting sands."

R'sner's hand turns, fingers twining with N'sir's own so that he can hold him that much closer. His gaze distant, his breathing deep and even, he lets his weyrmate's words weave a spell around them, transporting him to another time, but not so distant a place. And despite himself, he cannot help but to be caught up in it; in the story that is told and not just the one who is telling it. There are flickers of it in his expression; a hint of a knowing smile, a twitch of his brows in a frown, the way he is very still and very quiet.

"And so they danced together, companions both day and night, caught in the twisting steps of something greater then them both." As he speaks, N'sir's voice dips lower, the tones almost lilting as the tale unfolds in his mind's eye. "But life and nature are what they are," he informs. "And soon it was time for Flendreth to rise in her own dance across the skies. That night, the tensions were thick in the living cavern. Many a rider was present, hovering around T'yis despite the fact that he clung to the desert lord's table and companionship. Many were the times when that dark swarthy bandit was forced to rise to drive the others back, white teeth flashing dark flesh in warning. But he knew, in his heart, that that dance would end as they all ended and that he, a mere bandit in hiding, would not be involved. But T'yis," N'sir assures. "Was unwilling to pay court to the others. When Flendreth took to the skies, T'yis took to the tunnels, nimble feet and swift steps carrying him away from the cavern and those who might pursue. And pursue they did," N'sir assures. "One after another, strong men, dragonrider's all, taking to the tunnels in pursuit of the prize they sought. Watching T'yis' flight, the bandit lord rose, fire in his eyes and pain in his heart. What could he do? Surely he could not interfere in a dance as old as time? Distraught and angry, he took to the sands, vowing to leave the riders to themselves and cursing himself for being ten thousand kinds of a fool to have stayed so long. But," And here N'sir pauses, one arm raising to sweep out toward the lake, dark eyes glittering in the candlelight surrounding their nest. "T'yis had escaped his pursuers and broken free of the tunnels. And, as he ran along the shore of the lake, it was not the arms of one of the riders that caught him up, but rather the arms of the bandit lord. Nature," he assures. "Is nature. And the pair joined as surely as dragons in the sky join. And even in the midst of the flight madness, T'yis' hands found the bandit lord's flesh and the mark of his own arrows and he knew. He knew beyond a shadow of doubt that his own prey had caught him, instead."

R'sner's arms tighten further. His nostrils flare and his eyes flash with emotion not truly his own. But of course, he sees himself and N'sir in the story — how could he not? And the idea of others pursuing his weyrmate is enough to rouse a flicker of anger despite knowing full well it is a story. Enough that there is a flicker of relief, and then a dry sort of amusement for feeling it, when it is the bandit that catches T'yis.

"And," N'sir breaths. "The bandit lord knew it, as well." Falling silent for a beat, he lets that thought sink in and take root before refolding his arms atop R'sners. "And he knew that he could no more allow T'yis to let him go, then he could risk being captured. He would not, he /could/ not allow himself to be the cause for T'yis shirking his duty. But neither would he be caged, a prisoner to other men. So it was," he whispers. "That as T'yis slept, exhausted in the wake of the flight, the bandit rose. For long, painful moments he watched the golden beauty at rest, warring with his own heart and the knowledge of what he must do. And so, a man of honor in his own way, he left in the moments just before dawn. But not before stealing a lock of golden curls and not without leaving his own curved blade in T'yis arms as a reminder of his presence." For a long, long moment, N'sir is silent. Long enough that one might think the tale was complete. But, eventually, his whispered tones rise once more. "For the next turn, T'yis scoured the desert sands with Flendreth, searching for any hint of the bandit lordling. Occassionally, rumor and whisper would send him this way, or that, but at the most all he would catch is a glimpse of a runner mounted man poised on a dune in the distance."

It had better not be the end. That pause draws a frown across the weyrlingmaster's face, gaze sliding from dunes to weyrmate as R'sner waits. And waits. And is near to insisting that he speak, because it cannot be the end. Res is no stranger to tragic tales, but in this moment with his weyrmate in his arms, he won't allow it. When N'sir speaks once again, it's followed by a breath Res hadn't known he'd been holding, and then a mild huff of humorless amusement at his own expense. Head turned, he presses his face into N'sir's hair, breathing him in and ignoring the landscape around them in favor of the images painted in quiet whispers.

N'sir drawing in a shallow breath, N'sir holds it for a beat, exhaling it on a sigh as he shakes his head slowly. "As hard as T'yis searched, though, he never caught more then a glimpse of the bandit lordling. And the bandit, aware of the pursuit, never allowed himself to get close enough to know it T'yis would fire upon him, or not. Thier hearts ached, although apart and unbeknownst to one another." As he speaks, his fingers relace with R'sner's squeezing gently as he exhales a sigh. "Eventually, the search became futile, the weyrleaders deeming the bandit lord no longer a threat and pulling back the riders who were sent to pursue him. In time, word had it that he must have died, fallen to some unknown danger in the deserts expanse. And, in time, even the whispers of sightings trickled off until T'yis' heart was sick with the thought that, perhaps, the bandit lord /was/ dead. Eventually, the senior gold rose and the attention of the weyr turned to search and candidates and dealing with issues far more immediate then the thought that the bandit might still be out there. T'yis, as young as he was, was tapped to assist the weyrlingmaster, the clutch being, by far, one of the largest that Igen had seen in some time."

Even if the story only conjures a shadow of that old hurt, it is a heartache that R'sner knows well. It has him grateful for the warmth of N'sir in his arms, for the lacing of fingers and the sound of his voice; the very real presence of him, alive and safe. And as the story continues, it is easier to let it go; to entertain anticipation and curiosity rather than old hurts and past losses. But his face remains pressed against his weyrmate, eyes closed as he surrounds himself with his scent and presses gentle, lingering kisses to his temple.

"T'yis was suitably distracted, although many was the time that he would find himself staring out into the desert in the hopes of glimpsing that distant runner mounted figure gracing the dunes. And while that glimpse never came, he never lost hope, nor the will to look. But," And here N'sir's voice grows more firm, the tones offering a subtle reassurance. "The bandit lord was not dead. In the wake of his flight from Igen, he had rode the sands, again. Preying for a while upon caravans and merchants. But there was no joy, no challenge in the pursuit. The only joy he had was in spotting Flendreth in the distance and in knowing that T'yis, at least, had not given up. Eventually, he took to more honest means of survival, offering himself up as a guard to the very caravans he had once preyed upon. And, it is with one of these that he found himself once more Igen, just in time to hear the crooning of the dragons announcing that eggs would soon be hatching. Intrigued," N'sir explains. "And secretly hoping to catch sight of T'yis, Mahoud, for that was the bandit's name, made his way to the galleries and settled amidst the throngs of people intent on watching. It was, as hatchings are, an exciting moment, although the excitment in Mahoud's heart was caused by the flash of golden curls standing on the sands."

It is reassurance that is rewarded with a firmer kiss and a brush of R'sner's thumb against N'sir's knuckles. As the tale continues, it is enough to allow R'sner to cast his gaze once more toward the dunes and the stars, though he still doesn't really see them. He is once more on the sands of the hatching grounds, watching an event that he has seen time and time again, but with new eyes and new faces. Even Toith gets into it, offering a low-throated hum as backdrop to the fictional event N'sir is describing, bejeweled eyes whirling swiftly in the dark.

"One by one the eggs hatched," N'sir informs in quiet tones. "And one by one candidates became weyrlings. And, despite the fact that the majority of his attention was on T'yis, Mahoud found himself fascinated at watching the newly formed pairs being escorted off the sands. Loathing the crowds of people around him, he moved closer, prefering to stand with those lining the edges of the galleries where he could better watch T'yis escorting his charges to safety. There was Gold and Bronze and Greens aplenty," N'sir informs. "A few broad chested browns and slender blues… But there was one egg that caught and held Mahoud's attention if only because when it hatched it was in an explosion of shards so fine they glittered like jewels in the sunlight. The dragon that rose from the remains was as sleek as fine as the fastest runner with a hide so blue it rivaled the skies, themselves. Where the others stumbled and seemed uncertain? This blue? He was sure of himself, bold and brash in the way of one who knows himself and has no care for what the world might think. And as Mahoud, and the galleries, and the candidates watched, the blue ignored them all. Oh, like his clutchmates, he moved through the throng of eager candidates, glancing here and there at one, or two. But eventually, unthinkably, he moved /through/ them all, charging at the stands until he had stretched his full length up, up, up toward the watching crowd."

Toith's hum continues, and R'sner has no wish to shush her, the weyrlingmaster as enthralled with the story as his green lifemate is (even if Toith would prefer a bit more blood, and less romance). But the expectation of what is to come has a crooked little smile pulling at the weyrlingmaster lips; a faint turn at the corner of his mouth that is but a shadow of the expression as it might be seen on another, but there all the same.

"And so," N'sir informs in those same lilting tones. "Mahoud the bandit lordling became, before he even realized what was what happening, M'oud rider of blue Ryneth. Overwhelmed, it is unlikely that M'oud himself could have told you how he got to the sands. Or the relief and joy and sense of completeness that had come with it. But," N'sir assures. "He did get to the sands and he was escorted to the safety of the barracks by T'yis, himself. And while not a single soul, in all of Igen, understood the significance of T'yis hold on M'oud's arm? M'oud knew. And T'yis knew. And later, when weyrlinghood was over? T'yis and M'oud and Flendreth and Blue Ryneth, took to their own weyr together. It is said that no other dragon ever won another of Flendreth's flights after Ryneth took to the skies. And it is said, to this very day, that if you look very closely into the desert on the darkest of nights, you can see the image of two dragon mounted men standing still and silent on the distant dunes."

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