Always

Characters S'las, Zevuki
Synopsis Zevuki is searched by S'las' blue Chessylith.
Out-of-Character Date August 13, 2017

Igen Weyr - Living Caverns
Second only to the Hatching Sands in size -- although its walls are not so nearly circular -- the living cavern is filled with numerous rectangular tables, almost too many to count. The Weyrleaders have the table farthest from the kitchen and hearths at one end of the cavern. The hearths are kept as low-burning as possible during the day when folk come inside to escape the heat outside. They burn brighter at night to keep away the deserts chill. No matter hte level of flame, there is always a stew pot that hangs for nibblers at a good temperature. Favored drinks, particularly iced klah and juice, are kept on ice and interspersed at various food tables scattered about, along with baskets of rolls and fruit. There are, of course, scheduled mealtimes, and at certain points of the day the available fare slides into the menu for the nearest meal, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late-night snackings, but the staff has long since acknowledged that people will sit to talk and nibble here at all hours. In the cooler parts of the evening in particular, the cavern hosts games of chess, checkers, dragonpoker, and others. Several degrees are knocked off thanks to the Technician Craft's cooling system.


It's late afternoon in Igen and the largest rush of the living caverns have already come and gone, leaving now a steady flow of people. S'las is amongst that steady flow of people, hissing warnings to anyone who daudles too long. There's a whole weyr behind him! Keep moving! Once his tray is laden, he moves to the furthest table that's available, settling down. He clears his throat, peering at anyone who dares make eye contact while he rolls up his sleeves, sets up his napkin, then pulls the cool gaze away to begin his meal.

Guard shifts are generally off-set for rush periods, meaning there's a handful of guards entering the caverns together. They're laughing and jocular, not particularly impatient about waiting their turn in line (though one or two cast an eye at the slower movers in the line), before they finally make it to the head of the line. Almost to a man, they collect full plates and mugs, before casting about for a table. The one next to S'las only has one occupant, on the way out, and so the guards set up there, the occupant quickly clearing out, though he does get a nod and murmur of thanks from Zevuki for his departure. While most tuck immediately into their food, Zev sips at his drink, gaze roving over the caverns, and, if briefly, the rider at the table next to them.

S'las pauses from where he sits, fork and knife in hand as he cuts through his meat and slowly, his head tilts back. Those pale blue eyes look directly over to Zevuki and he holds his gaze for a minute before he slowly peers back over to his plate. The fork and knife come back to life, grinding against the plate with the highest pitched squeaks and squeals he can evoke. If people wanna look, now they gotta reason. He doesn't do it for too long, the bluerider doesn't care to waste food the residents and riders work hard to contribute so he takes a casual bite. Guards.

It could be said that guards are used to getting looks, pleasant or more often than not the opposite. There's a brief flicker of a smile from Zevuki, a nod — as S'las meets his gaze — and then the guard, too, returns to his meal, not so noisy as the rider. A couple of his companions at the table glance in the rider's direction, but then settle for raising their voices, as they talk about the latest odds for which dragon in which egg from the clutch hardening on the sands.

A smile. Seriously? A smile? OH, AIN'T THAT ADORABLE. The bluerider clears his throat, looking for his napkin and he finds it on his lap, pulling it up to wipe at the corner of his mouth while he carries on. Still, not a soul at the table with him. Perhaps the residents are already privy to the reasons as to why so the man is generally not bothered or interacted with. S'LAS DOESN'T LIKE PEOPLE. The conversation at the table with the guards earns an eye roll and a shake of the head. Never talk about your bets, that's how you lose it all when the time comes. "You kids and your wagering. Every one is going to put marks down on dragons and eggs. No one wants to take any real risks to make it worth while.

"Do you think that one egg is a gold?" "No, you nitwit, it's barely even bronze, let alone gold." There's some laughter from the table, though it fades as S'las puts in his quartermark. One of the older guards — graying of hair and eyes alike, snorts. "Oh yeah? What do you have in mind?" Meanwhile, Zevuki clears his throat in a deliberate interruption: "Isn't the mere hatching of dragons enough of a win?" that earns him groans and not-very-gentle slaps from his fellows, as well as snickering about the "Holdbred" newbie, Zevuki's back stiff in response.

"I was thinking more along the lines of Candidates to dragons, rather than fussing over which color is going to come out of the prettiest eggs. The shells are gonna be ground into the sands until the next clutch, why not bet on something that's a little more lasting. What do I know, though. I'm just a seasoned bluerider who enjoys a little gambling once in a long while." S'las shrugs, peering back over to his plate and he continues on his meal. This time, without the high pitched squealing. He reaches over, picking up his mug to take a drink and it's placed back down again. He peers over to Zevuki, nodding his head. "A viable clutch itself is a win and Igen has lady luck on her side. Aye, I'll give you that. Though, the one that people often swear to have gold? Will have a large blue. Maybe the ugliest egg out there, the gold. You're betting on aesthetics. Bet on the spirit of the person and dragon, there's the real challenge. 'Course, it's more of an adult game. Shouldn't trouble you kids with it, too much."

"They haven't even brought in all the candidates yet, I'll wager," one of the guards protests, "Can't bet on something that doesn't exist yet." Zevuki clears his throat. "I saw the Weyrwoman ask one of the candidates that stood at Half Moon to stand… she accepted." None of the other guards seem to find this particularly interesting. "Have the Weyrleaders indicated if they think one is a gold?" Zevuki asks S'las, curiosity spiked now. The elder guard next to him snorts. "Kids? Pretty sure you were in diapers when I was learning how to swing a sword. Now, this one's a kid," he jerks thumb at Zevuki, whose expression stiffens, clearly ill pleased with the designation but unwilling to voice it aloud.

"So you're telling me there isn't going to be a single good egg out there to accept any candidate? Not one? Wow, I'm speechless." S'las laughs darkly, poking the high pile of meat on his plate, thoughtfully. "Didn't your mother ever tell you it's not about the swing, but how you use it? I'm sure she told me something along those lines." Play childish games, get childish prizes. He glances over to Zevuki, thoughtfully, his brows raising curiously. His eyes seem to unfocus for a moment before the clarity returns and he sizes up the young man. "Anything is possible. Though, that's not an answer I would be privy to. Dragons have their own secrets, so if you want a dragons secret, you have to ask a dragon." He just might know of one in particular.

"Ain't even seen your candidates, parade 'em out here and we'll be the judge," suggests that same guard, to the agreeing laughter of most of the others. Zevuki's brows, meanwhile, rise in mute surprise. "Dragons won't tell the Weyrleaders? They certainly wouldn't tell a guard," he adds, somewhat dryly: "Or a holdbred kid." There's some more slaps on his back, said Holdbred Igenite taking it largely in stride as he digs into his meal.

"Parade em out like the girls the lot of you linger on to judge out in the bazaar? Not likely." S'las grins, pushing himself up onto his feet. He leans over to take his plate, only, he doesn't lift it from the table. The platter is turned, showing the other side of the meat. A face, likely a lamb with the eyes already gone. Eyes are the best part! Someone was greedy before serving but the bluerider did make a meal out of what's left. "We've already got our eyes on you, gentleman. As for you," he says, pointing to Zevuki with a crooked smile. "You want to test that theory? He's right outside waiting for you." S'las takes a step, pulling his gloves back on and he peers at the young man out of the corner of his eye. "He doesn't like to be kept waiting." « Is he coming? I want to see this one! »

That same guard snorts. "No more so than you lot do," he replies, to the snickering agreement of a handful of the others. Mid-chew, Zevuki glances up at the rider. Slowly, he finishes chewing and swallows. "I… would rather pass, sir. I'm sure he's a fine dragon, but I find that dragons seem to like intimidation — or at least get some amusement out of it — and there's little I can do to counteract that." This, in turn, earns jeering from his fellows, "Scared of a dragon, pssh!" Back stiff, Zevuki corrects, "Not scared. Just — not apt to fall for that." Again, presumably.

« Oh, come on now! I wouldn't hurt a trundlebug! Unless he didn't let go before I hopped in the lake but that would be the bugs fault. There was a time I went between and when I came home, there was one in my straps but the poor thing didn't move after that. I don't know why my straps are good hiding places for trundlebugs, but my straps are comfortable. » Creeping into Zevuki's mind just might be the tiniest faint light of tiny butterflies flowing out of the edges of his vision with the tempo of the docile male voice. "Seems Chessylith is a bit talkative today. Dragons, like our women, don't need to be paid to grant you attention. Someday you'll be able to enjoy such pleasues." S'las shrugs, turning on heel and he slowly makes his way over to the door.

Shaking his head — like he's hearing something and is more confused by it than anything — Zevuki slowly lowers his fork. "Excuse me, sir, but you are very strange." Clearly, the guard's mistaken the dragon's voice for the rider's — easy enough to do, especially if one is unused to being spoken to by a dragon. He's eyeing the departing rider with somewhat of relief, reaching for his mug but not even getting a sip before one of his fellows thumps him on the back. "Well? Go on, lad." That earns a look from Zevuki, that doesn't deter the other guards as they laugh and give him a helpful shove off the seat — in the wake of the rider's path.

Once free of the living caverns and the door, S'las turns and angles his trek across the bowl where a light blue dragon waits for him. It warbles it's greeting to his rider, bringing his short snout down to bump the man lightly with eyes whirling a brighter shade of blue. S'las pats him affectionately, moving to the side where he reaches into a leather satchel attached to the straps, digging within it a little bit. He pauses, and the blue lays down, making himself comfortable while his rider attempts to untangle his goggles from Faranth knows what. Once freed, he glances over his shoulder to see if Zevuki did indeed follow.

The stiffness and militaristic nature of Zevuki's posture is owing more to his profession than any particular discomfort at this scenario — though there's some of that too, to judge by his tight expression. It's, perhaps, curiosity that draws the young Igenite closer, staying a handful of steps back and hands clasped behind his back. His gaze flickers from dragon to rider, then to the bowl at large — habitual rather than from any nerves.

S'las spots the young man out of the corner of his eyes and he turns his head just enough so Zevuki doesn't see the broad grin on his face. Searchriding always brings the most memorable reactions out of people. Especially when they don't see it coming. That fear and uncertainty is a part of the whole process. He finally turns, shoving his hands into his pockets while lending the poor guard a bit of a lazy grin. "This is Chessylith. Chessy, this is…?" Meaning, supply your name! The light blue dragon croons softly, lowering his head to the ground and angles it so he can watch this person his rider promised to bring outside. Promise kept, S'las is off the hook for now and won't have to hear bellyaching for the rest of the night.

There is no fear from the guard — none visible, anyway — but it's clear that this whole this is out of the realm of his comfort zone. "Zevuki, of Igen… the Hold, originally, but I've been here for a time, now." It's growing clear he finds this whole thing passing odd, glancing over his shoulder, as if determining whether he can return to his meal with his reputation in tact yet. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name, sir," he adds.

« You can come closer, don't be afraid! I won't hurt you! If I do something wrong, S'las won't let me forget about it and he loves to lecture. » "C'mon on Chessy, that's not fair. I haven't lectured you in, uh." The man's going to just lean back against the blue dragons shoulder while he scratches at the whiskers on his chin in thought. "Think it's only been half a day or so. Ah yes. As he said. I'm S'las of Igen. Orginally of the mines in Lemos but life has a funny way of finding things one is more suited for. Whether they think they need it or not." All said with a slow drawl as the bluerider looks behind Zevuki incase the other guards decided to be nosy.

And now the pieces click into place — an exhale on the part of the guard and a nod suggesting he understands now. "I wasn't aware dragons spoke to people other than their riders," Zevuki says, carefully, gaze more on S'las than the blue. "I'm not afraid, though I don't understand what you want of me." His gaze goes to the rider, maybe he'll enlighten the guard? "Well met, S'las," he says, slowly, apparently taking in the rider's words with considerable caution. Apparently his fellows have decided their meal is more important than nosying in on their newest member, at least for now.

"They generally don't. As babies they don't know better, then as they grow, they learn to keep those channels of communication with people a lot more private." The blue warbles softly, peering over to Zevuki with his bright eye in silence for a moment. "Chessy, what was it you wanted to ask him? You were relentless in me getting him out here." Don't mind S'las, he's just going to remove his gloves to pick at something beneath his nail, concentrating. « No one has ever asked me what I was in my shell. Are you going to ask? » "A dragon won't speak to others that are not their rider unless there's a vital reason for it. Should never deny them their answers." The bluerider peers over, giving the poor guard a wink like the jerk that he is.

There's still stiffness in Zevuki's posture despite acknowledgement of the situation, so this seems like par-for-the-course for the guard. There's a brief pause, while the guard processes the oddity of talking to a dragon. "I think the answer is obvious now, isn't it? You were — are, a blue. Most people are curious about the eggs there now, since it's not clear what they are. Sir." The latter's tacked on for good measure. Can never be too careful when conversing with someone way, way bigger than you. S'las's sort-of-helpful words earn a brief furrow of brow, then a nod, like the guard understands.

"I think he means if you're going to ask the eggs on the sands now. Chessylith is fourteen turns, it would be a long time ago for you to be able to ask him back then at all, now wouldn't it?" S'las hangs his gloves onto his belt and he reaches into his pocket. The blue rumbles low and deep, tilting his head towards his rider and the man peers down at the ground while his eyes unfocus briefly. He nods, pushing himself away from his lifemate, straightening himself out as he takes a purposeful step towards the guard. "Well, couldn't ask now," he drawls, slipping his hand free of his pocket. "You'll have to ask when the Weyrlingmasters escort you out there. Unless you're too afraid to accept, which would be a pity." A white knot is held out to Zevuki, in offering while S'las watches intently. "Chessylith formally extends his invitation to stand on Igen's sands as an official Candidate. Do you accept?" WELL?

Clearly the guard is befuddled by S'las' clarification. "Yes, that would be strange," the Igenite agrees. "That's why I—" and then he's calling chicken, which earns a narrowing of gaze and a slight stiffening of already-stiff posture. He takes in the rider's words, glancing for a moment at the dragon, before he finally says, "Might I ask your dragon a question first, before I answer, sir?"

S'las grins in amusement at the poor guard, poor thing. "Go ahead. He's my other half, not my property. It's up to him if he wants to answer." Chessylith's eyes whirl in amusement, with flickering hues of blues and greens. He croons softly, angling his gaze directly at Zevuki while S'las takes a little step back to his lifemate's shoulder. Don't worry, he isn't going anywhere. The blue waits intently for the question.

The guard nods, acknowledging the rider's words. Zevuki takes a moment, before his attention turns on Chessylith: "I know it has been some time, and you might not remember, but…" he glances at S'las, then back to Chessylith. "Did you know that S'las was your rider, that he was the only one, when you shelled — when you saw him on the sands?"

Chessylith rumbles low and deep in thought, sending a few flurries of butterflies flitting about lazily in the mindscape he shares with the young man. « He was always mine. Always. » "Did he answer you? Wasn't privy to that one." S'las clears his throat, examining the knot in his hands. Still crisp and white, one of the newer ones. The older ones tend to get recycled after a while and you can tell from the tint. Washing can't remove every speck of dirt from it.

Rocking back on his heels for a moment, Zevuki's expression is both thoughtful and moved. "Thank you, Chessylith," he murmurs, with a respectful nod of head towards the blue. After he exhales, he says, "Yes, sir. He did, and…" is it possible for him to straighten further, already stiff-backed? Probably not, but there's a sense of that all the same: "I accept. Thank you for the honor."

Poor kid is gonna have to loosen up or someone is going to think there's a rod going straight through him. S'las raises a brow when the guard speaks up and he nods his head slowly. "Glad to hear it! Take this knot and wear it. Report to whomever you need to, let them know your change in status. I'll be here waiting with Chessylith and then we'll escort you over to the Candidate Barracks where you'll reside for the time being. The Weyrlingmasters will give you an orientation of their expectations. Don't be surprised if the Weyrleaders themselves come down, they tend to sneak up on you." S'las nods and smiles, this time it's more of a smile out of relief rather than of mischief. The knot is held out and his wait begins.

Accepting the knot, Zevuki regards it for a moment, rough fingers running over the knot before he gives a nod — listening closely despite his attention being elsewhere. "Thank you. My lieutenant is inside with the others. It shouldn't take long," he gives a nod to both, as he turns on a heel sharply and heads for the caverns. It doesn't take him long before he's returning — now a handful of guards coming out to watch, jostling each other and laughing. "I'm ready, sir," the Igenite reports when he returns.

"Wonderful. Let's go." Chessylith rises to his feet, letting S'las slow his pace to allow Zevuki to fall into step beside him as they make their way to the barracks. The blue? Oh, he won't be in too big of a hurry following them. Not while he's puffing himself up, trying to make himself look bigger while those pale blue wings unfurl. He's just stretching! Honest! The guards are given a warning rumble, and then the dragon turns to lumber beside his lifemate. Smug.

Zevuki adjusts his stride to S'las', crisp, even strides easily able to keep up. He glances over his shoulder at the blue, and at his fellows — former fellows, perhaps — who stand there for a little while longer before they head back inside. The guard-turned-candidate turns attention, sidelong, to the rider as he leads the way.

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