Not Fighting

Characters Risali, Zevuki
Synopsis Risali visits Igen Weyr, and Zevuki does not want to fight her.
Out-of-Character Date July 29, 2017

Igen Weyr - Lake Shore
It is sometimes hard to tell where the bowl ends and the lake shore begins. Fine grains of gold, tan and orange hued sand layer much as the bowl walls in the distance beyond. The sand only gives way to thin patches of grass where the tall fence of the feeding grounds intersects the lake to the south and the smooth curve of the bowl wall rises on the opposite shore. At that intersection one can make out a small building and colorful fabrics where the Weyr's residents go to relax. The shallow lake waters shimmer invitingly, day and night, lapping at the fine grain sands. Engineered pipes are hidden beneath the bowl landscape and feed the lake as well as the grasses of the feeding grounds to keep the water levels from dropping past a certain point which is marked by a waist high obelisk.

It's just after midday at the desert Weyr. The time when most of the inhabitants residents find somewhere cool and shady for an afternoon nap through the hottest part of the day. Not everyone has that luxury, though — regardless of the sleepiness of the rest of the Weyr, someone has to draw the short straw of staying on duty for the various weyr functions, and unfortunately, one of those is Zevuki. The guard is strolling by the lake — presumably in an effort to stay cooler near the waters, though he wears the heat well enough.

Midday in the desert weyr and Zevuki is not the only poor, unfortunate soul to find himself on the beach. Risali is there too, but less apparent because there is a massive gold dragon making her way down the beach - at top speed, no less - with her sails tucked in against her back, her head bowed for an apparent incoming headbutt, her wonky headknobs settled in different directions against the top of her head as she heads straight towards Zevuki and doesn't seem inclined to stop. It's going to be a bloodbath. There is going to be a mauling on Igen's beach, and a lot of paperwork, and BLOOD, BLOOD, BLOOD and DEATH. Or not, because the queen is digging in taloned paws to sand at the last possible second, settling on her hindquarters, and skidding as she kicks up hot sand in an attempt to stop and - OH HELLO ZEVUKI. That would be a queenly snout with whirling blue eyes right in his face, yes, and that pulsating sounds of bass and drums is probably not his imagination even if there are no words to carry the rattling sensation. There's also an indignantly furious shriek of, "LEIRITH!" coming up from behind the gold, emitted by the tiny specimen of human in riding leathers sans the jacket, a light, long sleeved tunic with a hood that is not pulled up, and black hair tied off in a messy bun at the back of her head as she makes that miserable jog to catch up. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" And WHACK, right to her lifemate's hide - which has the dragon's maw going agape in a way that looks suspiciously like laughter as she bob-bob-bobs and then wuffle-croons at Zevuki. QUEEN SNOOT TO YOUR TUMMY. GIVE HER SCRITCHES. Everything is fine. « My minion is a badass, but she must learn to keep up. » And yes, Leirith is laughing, and being completely rude and bespeaking people who are not her rider (I'm looking at YOU, ZEVUKI).

For all that he's been at the Weyr for a bit less than a seven, for all that he's seen dragons frequently at the Hold (and the watchdragon, even if at a distance), Zevuki isn't entirely comfortable with dragons — only in the sense that he's not quite yet sure how to treat them, or react to them. A queen dragon headed straight for him is most definitely out of his comfort zone. He stays stock still for a second, but then training kicks in and he's moving — trying to sidestep, but of course that's pretty useless given how big the queen is, so finally he just throws a hand up over his head to protect it, which is apparently a good choice, given the sand the queen's sudden stop sprays everywhere. It's all over his nice, until-then clean uniform, but at least he's unharmed, a fact that Zevuki seems to realize after a moment, as he lowers his arm, and stares. Mostly at the queen — leaning back — but some at the woman that comes up, kind of blankly. Not understanding the wants of dragons in any way, shape or form, the guard seems to focus on the latter now after a shake of his head, in lieu of the former — people he gets. "Sorry. I didn't… hear?" Or he misheard. Whatever. "Ma'am," is tacked on, out of habit. He side-eyes the queen, briefly.

To be fair, there are probably not very many people alive that are comfortable with a dragon essentially charging them. Like, none. Grey eyes watch the active battery of sand against person and Risali winces, then steps into Zevuki's space alongside Leirith because Zevuki might get people, but Risali certainly does not. "Hear?" A moment of confusion that manifests in knitted brows, punctuated by silence as tiny hands reach out to wipe beach off of the guard's outfit if he allows her the contact in both silent apology and horror at her gold's antics. "And Faranth, please don't call me ma'am." If not for the fact that Leirith was beside her, her rank would be in question; she doesn't wear a knot, opting instead to meet people at face value instead of being afforded respect she doesn't deserve and crafted facades meant to deceive - and possibly just to avoid the uncomfortable politics of being in a weyr that is not her own. Leirith shifts her snout again, pushing it into Zevuki's side, snorting to dislodge more sand before Risali reaches out to push the dragon's face away from the guard. "I'm really sorry. She wants scritches, and she's overly-excited, and -" A pause, a breath, a moment when Risali seems at a loss for words and then turns another wince of expression onto the guard. "Are you okay?" But at least Leirith is keeping her voice to herself - for now. Even the wubwubwub of bass and drums has faded back away into nothingness.

When she reaches to brush off his uniform, habit — maybe — makes Zevuki step back out of reach, before he stops himself. She's clearly a queenrider, not a criminal, but still, habits die hard, and the indecision is clear on the guard's face for a moment. "It's fine, ma'am. Just a bit of sand." Definitely not looking at the queen in question, no. Focus on Risali. Despite the request otherwise, he persists with the address, "Did you did some help finding someone, ma'am? I can ask—" he breaks off as Leirith snout pushes into his side, stumbling and yelping as he works to keep his balance in the sand. The stiff motion to pull his uniform straight is as much to try and maintain his dignity as much as it is respect for the uniform. "I'm fine, ma'am," the guard finally says. There's still sand on his uniform, but he's steadfastly ignoring that, for the time being.

Zevuki steps back from her touch and Risali does not pursue the contact; the goldrider simply stands there for a moment with her hand extended into the void where the guard's body once was, using the appendage instead to push at Leirith's snout. Risali is not offended, nor does she acknowledge his yelp outside of a sharp, "Leirith. Stop it." It's on the third respectful application of the word, 'Ma'am,' that Risali's lips draw tight in annoyance, grey eyes flickering towards the sky as if she might find some patience descending from on high and, finding none, she takes a deep breath and exhales her name. "Risali. My name is Risali. If you keep calling me ma'am, I'm going to let her keep going." Because this is how you make friends, by threatening them to let your over-friendly dragon continue her over-friendliness and demand for scritches. Leirith? That maw is agape again, her head bobbing in what is still probably definitely laughter despite the fact that she's backed off somewhat - for now. This leaves Risali, with her brows knitting in that momentary realization that maybe she was a little mean, even as her arms cross over her chest and she lapses into a silence that stretches somewhere between, 'Awkward,' and 'Is this really happening?' before she breaks it with a sigh and fingers pinching at the bridge of her nose. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't - I'm sorry. I'm Risali, this is Leirith, I'm not lost or looking for anything. Leirith wants to see every weyr for herself, and today happened to be Igen." A beat, as she drops her hand from her face, allowing grey eyes to take in the guard with another wince, and a softly spoken, "I don't suppose I can buy you a drink, to say I'm sorry?" It's a question, but phrased as if she already knows the answer. RUN, ZEVUKI.

"As you like, Risali, ma'am." Well, Zevuki's using her name, but he's still tagging in the ma'am. Maybe it's a gradual thing, but it's probably really just a guard thing. He does eye Leirith warily, but maybe he assesses the threat as ineffectual, unlikely, or somewhere in between. While Risali seems to be collecting herself with a sigh, he politely averts his gaze, notices some sand on his shoulder while he's doing that, and dusts it off. "Pleasure to meet you, ma'am." Yes, he hasn't shaken that off. "Ah… right." He seems baffled with the notion of just wanting to see a Weyr and picking it at random, it would seem. It takes him a moment to process that. "Well, I'm afraid you've come at a bad time. Most of the Weyr is napping out the heat. Uh, would you like something cool to drink?" he offers, moments before she offers to buy him a drink, earning another baffled stare. "You're the visitor, ma'am," he says, like he's trying to gently correct her on what the polite outcome should be. Namely, him, offering to her, not the other way around.

If Risali were a mythical mage creature, or a dragon chewing on firestone, she would have set fire to Zevuki with her eyes by now. Thankfully mages don't exist on Pern, and she is definitely not a dragon, so she stands there glaring at Zevuki awkwardly when he addresses her as ma'am - again. "Pleasure," she echoes back on dry tones, the kind that might suggest murder being considered as an acceptable past time despite the hindrances of a dragon and it being illegal in every Hold and Weyr. Because he keeps saying ma'am. To her credit, Risali's expression softens when the guard continues with why the weyr seems so unfathomably dead at the time, grey eyes watching him dust more sand from his uniform before she tilts her head. There's a sideways glance of her own for her lifemate, returned by the queen tilting her head and crooning, and then Risali's attention is back on Zevuki as they ask each other if they want drinks. Breathy laughter escapes her, her lips curving up into the first honest smile she's had since running into the guard on the beach, and then more laughter when he tries very gently correcting her into accepting his offer instead. "Yes, but you're the one covered in sand, sir." A beat, and then. "I would love a cold drink." She won't press the issue or argue with him - that's what throwing marks at people later on is for. Instead, she gives Leirith another push, making the queen shift her massive body out of the way as Risali makes a sweeping motion with her hands. "After you."

Zevuki is all too aware of Risali's look. But he's also, apparently, been a guard long enough to be able to weather such glances with relative equanimity. It'd probably be a different story if it were the dragon rather than the rider. "Hazard of the job, ma'am," her persists with that address, shaking off her observation about the sandiness of his uniform. "Nothing to worry about. This way?" He gestures, then tucks hands into the small of his back, stepping into pace with the woman, seemingly content that he's got his way, or at least so he thinks. "It will be cooler inside, too. Will your, uh, dragon, be fine out here?"

A hazard of the job is being charged by dragons and covered in sand? Risali looks as if her disbelief may earn Zevuki more verbal dissent, but she presses her lips together instead, drops her chin towards her chest, and allows more breathy laughter to escape her. "If you say so," comes softly, the goldrider stepping into stride with the guard as they make their way towards… well, she can't be sure. Igen is not familiar territory to her, though there's a soft sound in her throat to acknowledge Zevuki's comment of the inside being cooler, and a sideways glance for him as Leirith falls into step behind them, escorting the duo to places she will eventually be unable to follow. "She'll be fine. There's plenty of water for her keep cool in." Grey eyes shift their focal point straight ahead, Risali pulling her hood over her head to combat Rukbat's persistence in a silence that's not uncomfortable, but is certainly toeing the line of awkward, and then she breaks it. "So…" Another sideways glance, as grey eyes rake from boots to face in a manner that's assessing without being impolite or titillating. "A guard. Do you like fighting, sir?"

The queenrider's disbelief is taken in stride, without a change of expression from Zevuki. In fact, he doubles down. "That, and many other things you wouldn't believe." He certainly doesn't seem like the sort to tell tall tales, so maybe he's being absolutely sincere. After a brief glance over his shoulder — as if to confirm Risali's words about her dragon — he leads the way into the cool shade of the sandstone walls after passing through an archway. The Moonshine Gardens is largely empty, though a bartender and a handful of patrons are staked out in the colorful-walled bar. The guard gestures, as if to invite her to select a table. "Would you prefer juice, water…?" apparently his definition of a drink isn't quite so alcoholic, at least not when it comes to higher ranking foreign queenriders.

Igen Weyr - Moonshine Gardens
A large sandstone archway provides a dramatic entrance from the soft fine sands of the lake shore. The room within defined by sandstone brick walls which vary in height, but none low enough to be seen over. Colorful awnings stretch overhead, connected by a series of poles and wires so that they float effortlessly above. They provide shelter from the sun during the day, and a warm comforting feel at night lit by electric lights. Plank flooring is stained a medium cherry hue, giving an odd effect to the open space.
A solid wall at the back leads to a smaller building where the kitchen is located. Colored glass shelves line the wall in irregular intervals, stocked with all fashion of liquor and wine. A massive bar rests in front of the wall, an exquisite piece of skybroom polished and stained to a flawless black finish, accented with two inlaid meandering stripes of pearl and silver. Matching black and silver stools line along the front of the bar. Round tables for four-somes to six-somes are spread about haphazardly with comfortable but also easily replaceable wicker chairs.

"Like what?" Risali inquires, and there's no incredulousness to her tone. She's genuinely curious about what horrors a guard might come face to face with on any given day, passing through the archway to the Moonshine Gardens where Leirith departs, doubling back towards the water since she definitely can't fit there. Grey eyes sweep the surroundings when Zevuki gestures, landing on empty table after empty table before she moves towards one. "Water," she breathes as she goes, "and rum." The last request is made with a smile over her shoulder, delivered as Risali pushes her hood back down and finds a seat to settle in while she waits.

"It wouldn't be seemly to tell you all about them." Zevuki, such a tease, perhaps inadvertently. He's grimacing like he's suddenly realized all the normal guard-stories he mostly certainly can't share with some foreign dignitary, yes. "Ah, right." And then he's off to collect the requested drinks. It doesn't take him long, given how empty the place is, and he's quickly returning with a relatively small shot glass (that's the rum), a larger glass (the water), and an equally sized glass of what appears to be fruit juice of some sort (presumably for himself).

Zevuki might inadvertently be a tease, but there's nothing inadvertent about the way Risali settles back in her chair with a smile that says, 'Try me,' even if she doesn't pressure him into the conversation. Prying, fortunately, has never been one of those things that Risali found a use for. People will open up in their own time, or not at all; it's not her business, and so she lets him retreat to gather drinks and greets him with a smile when he comes back. "Thank you," she breathes, and she means it, taking the shot glass and the water in separate hands before knocking back that shot with a wince and an appreciative look for the smaller glass as she settles it on the table. She cradles the water in her hands, watching Zevuki from around the rim as she takes in his very non-alcoholic beverage and waits a moment before she speaks. "So, you never answered my question, sir. Do you like fighting?" A beat, and then as if the answer to that question doesn't really matter, there's a softer, "Do you like it?" Fighting or being a guard - one can never be too sure (though she probably means fighting).

Maybe he misses that smile, or just pretends to. Either way, the guard doesn't seem inclined to share such tales. Zevuki's reaction to how quickly the weyrwoman downs that shot is a flicker of brows, and an exhale as his gaze drops to his glass. By contrast, he's practically timid, sipping slowly at his juice. "Fighting?" is echoed with a surprised raise of brows. "I'm good at it," he says, after a beat. Which is not what she asked, something he seems to realize. "I was born to it — being a guard. My family's guarded Igen Hold for generations. I like being good at what I do." Which is, neither, a direct answer, though it's hard to tell whether that's deliberate or disingenuous on the guard's part.

Regardless of whether or not Zevuki is being disingenuous or deliberately deflecting, Risali listens. The goldrider sips at her drink as the guard imparts hints of who he is while withholding other details, and perhaps that is what Risali really wanted to know - whether Zevuki was good at what he does. Those grey eyes drop again, delineating the lines of arms and uniform, making a slow trek back up to his face while her own brows raise and she takes another sip of her water while she watches him for a moment too long. But she moves, because Risali is a creature in constant motion, sitting her drink down as she leans forward across the table and gestures with her hand between the both of them. "Fight me," Risali breathes. Whether or not he agrees, the tiny woman is getting to her feet, stepping away from her chair and around her table to be more in Zevuki's space with a smile and a brightness to grey eyes that speaks of excitement and challenge. "Unless you're afraid to get your ass kicked by a girl," she adds, tone teasing without being malicious, "sir."

He's not unaware of the up-and-down she gives him — it'd be hard to ignore, really — though Zevuki is at least polite enough to pretend like he doesn't notice, gaze instead dropping to his juice. If there's any awkwardness about how long she studies him, it isn't visible in the guard's even expression. His brows go up in, at first, disbelief, and then amusement. "No." He says it plainly, despite her standing up; he doesn't shift from his seat. "It's not about being afraid. You have nothing to lose, ma'am. I, however, would probably lose my job if I tried to fight a visiting goldrider, invited to or not."

For what it's worth, at least Risali isn't flirting (despite the fact that her once over, twice over, thrice over could certainly be misconstrued as such); she is simply assessing the threat, making a conclusion in her mind, and reacting. Risali laughs when he tells her no, goes so far as to give her his reasons why, and then crosses her arms over her chest as one booted foot gently taps at the leg of his chair. "You really think that they would make trouble for you if you told them that a foreign goldrider asked you to spar with her," she amends fight, because fighting could certainly be seen as a punishable offense, "and that there wouldn't be any political blowback from them trying to get you in trouble?" Meaning that Risali would fight them to keep Zevuki in his position - if they even cared, which she highly doubts because she spends a lot of her time tumbling with men twice her size (in the FIGHTING WAY, GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER, GEEZ) and taking swings. So Risali leans closer, in his space, one hand on the top of the table as she negotiates. "One round. And if I win, you have to stop calling me ma'am."

Zevuki's slow consuming of his juice ends — he drinks fully half of it in a long, impressive gulp. Maybe he uses it as an excuse to give him more time to response to the goldrider, or maybe he's just that thirsty. "I think it's far easier to dismiss a brand-new guard, than to potentially upset another Weyr," the guard explains, in easy tones, like this is just the way of things, and one should accept it. "Forgive me, ma'am, but as the Weyrs are autonomous, I'm not sure that your say would keep me in a job, and I would very much like to keep this one." He's polite enough to finish his juice entirely — with several more gulps — before he rises, seeking to ease past her leaning over his part of the table if possible. He collects her empty glass as well — the rum — and takes both over to the bar, nodding towards the bartender. "It was a pleasure to meet you, ma'am." Still with the ma'am. Maybe there's even a hint of a smile, very brief, that he clings to that, despite her challenge otherwise. Them's fighting words, maybe, but hard when he's retreating in such a polite manner, giving her a respectful nod as he steps out the door, seeking to resume his rounds.

And Risali watches Zevuki drink, waiting for the guard to reach a conclusion as to whether or not he wants to rise to the challenge, and giving him a look when it's the wrong damn conclusion to make (in her mind, anyway; she loves a good fight). Still, Risali remains silent despite the rise of her brows, remains where she's standing as Zevuki gains his footing, and gathers glasses (all of which she watches in a calculated manner, as if deciding whether or not to bait him into a spar via self-defense), and she doesn't move even when Zevuki retreats towards the bar, then makes for the exit. There's laughter that chases after Zevuki instead, amused as he calls her ma'am again and maintains his manners despite her distinct lack thereof. "Thank you for the drinks," Risali tells him around a smile of her own, as she moves back around the table to settle in her seat and pulls that water a little closer, "sir." But he probably hasn't seen the last of her - not yet, anyway, but certainly for today.

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