Clutching 29

Quarith (#3000)

Glowlight plays over this dragon's silky, smooth hide like the last flickers of the setting sun against the bellies of thick and rosy-hued clouds. The white gold on her belly deepens subtly as it rises to her flanks and spine into a rich and honeyed gold. She moves with a dignified grace, confident in each well-placed step. When she extends her wings, the sails show honeyed gold, and the marbling of veins casts intricate and muted shadows against the ground. The spars, the framework of her light bones, gleam pale gold, and that lightness of color seems to bear her aloft.

Her inquisitive nature is evident in her every movement, as she absorbs the world around her in tandem with her lifemate, Saria.

Her complacent expression gives her an air of refined dignity befitting her color. Quarith is 26 Turns and 21 days old. She is 82 feet (25m) long, with a wingspan of 136 feet (42m).

Sejith (#4466)

A bright brassy hide gleams, deepening in gradual shadow under wings and down to graceful talons in a rich bronze. Filling out with age and maturity, Sejith is well-muscled and sleek, his lack of obvious threadscore speaking of his easy coordination and airborne precision. Calm and steady in just about any situation, his exacting skill mirrors an inner intensity.

Sejith's eyes whirl a deep and relaxed blue. Sejith is 26 Turns and 21 days old. He is 76 feet (23m) long, with a wingspan of 126 feet (38m).

Saria (#4925)

Saria's long, wavy chestnut hair glints with reddish copper highlights, plaited neatly to the back of her head and secured with a ribbon. A few soft, delicate curls, like ringlets, fall from the braid at all times, framing her face, and causing her to brush them from her chocolate brown eyes. If you knew her before she was searched, you will surely notice the depth and clarity her eyes have taken on since her Impression to her lifemate and love, gold Quarith. Her smooth, creamy skin is an almost startling contrast to her eyes and hair, and her heart-shaped mouth turns up in the slightest of smiles as she notices your gaze, a change from her usual serious demeanor.

The Weyrwoman is wearing a simple cotton dress in a light turquoise-blue colour. Short sleeves and a scoop neck slip down to a tailored waist, then flare out again to swirl lightly just below her knees. Her bare calves and feet peek out from beneath it. Perched on Saria's shoulder is Dana.

Saria wears the Orange and Black knot of Ista Weyr, threaded through with a fine, bright strand of gold for her lifemate and a rather oddly contrasting strand of purple for her healing. The knot's intricate loops show that she is a Weyrwoman.

Saria is 46 Turns, 6 months, and 8 days old.

T'rell (#5123)

A small fellow, his shoulders are broad, his hands well-calloused, and his form compact and fit. His dirt-brown eyes sparkle with mischief and humor to lend a joke to his short and wavy hair, which has become quite a remarkable shade of light grey. His cleanshaven features are unlined except when he's laughing and are free and mobile with his expressions, such that all his five feet and four inches of height are alight with a juvenile and contagious spirit.

Dark trousers look sturdy, and beneath a dark brown wingrider's jacket, marked with a patch bearing a cresting wave and a bronze dragon, a sea-blue shirt is tailored to fit. A worn belt is fastened with a bronze knotwork buckle, and itself is more functional than decorative; his boots haven't been replaced in turns, and are ash-scarred. From a shoulder epaulet, triple cords of orange, black, and bright metallic bronze loop once and again around the pendant bars that signal his rank of Wingleader.

T'rell is 39 Turns, 2 months, and 23 days old.

Quarith weaves an elegant tapestry of warm golds, pinks and reds from her resting place on the hot Istan sands for all those who hear her. « It is time. »

Sejith stirs, emerging from his own personal sunbath on the mountainside. He picks up his queen's image, whirls it amid the blue of sky and sea until he awakens, pulse quickened. « I am coming. » His announcement is pleased, curious, and urgent.

Hatching Grounds Entrance (#4385)

The imposing height of this tunnel is a mere shadow of the cavern beyond. Worn smooth by time and touch, the walls and floor reflect turns of passage by candidate and observer alike, dusted gently by a smattering of coarse black sand; heat and excitement are palpable here as well, cooled somewhat by the breeze that filters in from the bowl. Broad, shallow stairs sweep up to the galleries for more general observation, while a broad, lower tunnel leads towards the sands themselves.

On the sands, Quarith raises herself to stand from her previous prone position, stretching her forelimbs around egg-heavy bulk. Carefully, methodically, she begins to dig, mounding sand here and there, creating small hillocks and great valleys in the sparkling volcanic sands, smoothing bits here and there with her tail until all is at the ready. Eyes whirl red as first contractions come upon her.

Oh ho ho! You had better be a Rider or a Candidate to have business on the sands! Brooding dragons are not reknowned for their good tempers.

Hatching Grounds BROADCASTING (#4321)

The heat here is stifling, encompassing, swallowing mind and hazing sight into waved oblivion. Sparkling, coarse black sand simmers with volcanic urgency underfoot, its hillocks and dunes arranged to queen's liking; reflected light filters in, offered no even perceived respite. When empty, the vault of this cavern is hushed, still that echoes and rebounds; when occupied, it is intensified: clutch dominates view, and every sound resounds twicefold as loud as was intended. Gold Quarith is here. Saria is here.

Quarith raises her head, mid-contraction, twisting it round and greeting the bronze with a trumpet that resonates throughout the cavernous galleries. She will allow these, it is their right, Sejith's for her sake and T'rell for her beloved's.

Quarith 's sunset-touched flanks heave once, twice, then a third time, struggling to bring an egg of complicated — yet simple — taste onto the sands. Warm golden-brown gooey-ness spills onto the dark Istan sands, and gradually-melting dots of chocolate shade become apparent. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Egg, meet the oven.

Saria moves quietly over to T'rell's side, watching in wonder, as always, as the firs egg appears.

Sejith pauses to deposit his rider before he moves toward Quarith, careful not to disturb any of her sculptured undulations in the sand. Eyes whirling, he echoes her greeting with a strong brassy call.

T'rell nods to Saria as she appears next to him, watching Quarith with equal admiration.

Quarith carefully settles her first egg in the sands, mounding and pawing them into place to support it, and turns to Sejith, extending great golden neck and half-unfurling translucent honey wings as she briefly twines her neck against Sejith's before returning to the task at hand by necessity.

Saria glances up curiously at T'rell. "I wasn't sure you'd be here. Thought you had sweeps this day, and when she told me it was time, I began to be afraid you might miss it."

Sejith stands, alert, at Quarith's side, a proud and yet curious bastion of support.

Quarith furls her wings again, emitting a low croon, a sort of groan that resounds deeply as she is touched by another strong contraction.

Quarith smooths away any trace of imperfection upon the sands with one long sweep of her sunset-touched tail while a swirl of red glows in her eyes — another egg begins to make its appearance, the midpoint of its long journey reached in a swirl of fudge and cherry as it follows its fellows upon the sands. With a sweet croon, Quarith smooths sand over her newest offspring: Cherry Garcia Egg.

"We just got back," T'rell tells Saria, stripping off his riding gloves to tuck them into his belt. "I thought he was falling asleep," the rider chuckles softly against the cavern's echoes, "when he demanded we come. How could I refuse?" A grin touches his eyes.

Quarith warbles sweetly at the collection gathered thus far, turning fast-whirling eyes upon her lifemate as queen makes her way gingerly across toward Saria and T'rell, carrying herself like the grand dame she is. Tail held delicately above already-laid offspring, she creates a new impression in the sand with her forepaws, clawing deep into it. She positions herself carefully over the indentation and lids eyes briefly, focusing on the effort as another egg appears, sliding into its place, to be half-covered in warmth by more pawing of loose sands.

Saria brushes already sweat-sogged tendrils of hair from her brow and shifts slightly from side-to-side; despite her thick-soled riding boots, the heat is still nearly unbearable down here this close. She looks up encouragingly at her lifemate as the queen turns to her. "Yes, they're lovely, Quarilove. All of them will be," she assures aloud, then glances with a quirky half-smile at T'rell. "She's so sensitive about them, every time," she adds quietly to the bronzerider.

Sejith remains upright and sturdy in manner, though his raised neck arches and his eyes whirl a quick and curious blue-green as he watches every move Quarith makes.

Quarith settles down into the sands as her forepaws scoop out still another depression. Delicate motion is her trademark, and as her body ripples with birth contractions, that delicacy becomes apparent as the egg's apex becomes visible, a swirl of amber syrup and spice topping it in artistic grace. With one final heave, the entirety becomes visible: Southern Pecan Pie Egg drops softly into the bowl-like depression.

Saria admires this most recent creation as her lifemate gently tends to it, mounding sand here and there as is needed to support and warm it. She glances up at T'rell, "Of course you had to come," she says softly, "We wouldn't have had it any other way." Then, startled by something heard privately from Quarith, she lays a light hand on T'rell's forearm. "Watch…!" she says, urgently.

T'rell just smiles, opening his jacket for a bit of ventilation as he watches the process. "I see. She's got plenty of moral support from him, though." He nods upward at the towering, almost comical bronze, trying to be solemn and fatherly but as curious as a firelizard. "She does know what she's doing, doesn't she?" The queen's deliberate and careful ministrations delineate the miraculous process.

Quarith finds a special place, away from even her lifemate now, farther back on the sands, near the back wall of the hatching cavern; she extends her neck, pacing slightly, and unfurls wings, half-wide as though she were considering taking flight right there and then. A loud bugle! echoes startlingly through the caverns, indeed, the whole Weyr now, as she cries her defiance at anyone who would near this, her prize and chosen child.

Saria's eyes open wide, and she murmurs quietly to T'rell, though not looking at him, "Aye - she knows."

Quarith sweeps clear the canvas of black sand to etch within the malleable surface a frame of warmth and comfort for her masterpiece. The creative forces flow and, with a majestic shudder of her egg heavy form, she produces another work of arther piece de resistanceSmooth and Creamy World's Best Vanilla Egg.

Smooth and Creamy World's Best Vanilla Egg

Rich golden-white cream and deep russet brown swirl and fleck the gently ovoid surface as it comfortably rests in the warm, fragrant sands. Plain and simple and yet, in its simplicity, elegant; sepia shadows slide and flow in fresh, thick flavor. No bubbles mar its texture, nothing diminishes the purity of this smooth expression of transient ecstasy.

T'rell and Sejith both visibly startle at Quarith's declaration, and separated by the expanse of sands, each gaze inspects the egg with interest. "What did that mean?" Rider wonders to the Weyrwoman.

Pacing, tracing an imaginary line in the sands around this special egg, glistening in its newness, now speckled lightly with the black sands, Quarith extends wings and beats them triumphantly, trumpeting her beauty to Sejith, to all, before moving back toward the center of the sands, still watchful, wary, of anything or anyone that would disturb her chosen.

Saria allows a slow and wondering smile to creep across her face, looking closely at the golden tinge of the creamy new egg set aside by her Quarith. "It can only be our next queen, Wingleader," she says, feeling a certain formality at this declaration and certain that up in the galleries, experienced riders will also have noted the queen's protectiveness of her latest offspring.

Quarith turns whirling eyes on Sejith, crooning lowly at him, and then on Saria, seeking out approval once more as she finds a relatively undisturbed place in the sands to begin anew.

Sejith puffs up proudly, spreading his wings in a bronze backdrop to the beauty of Quarith's piece-de-resistance. He joins his queen in her announcement, the combined call echoing up into the farthest ledges and galleries. You might even be able to hear it in Igen. Eyes reflecting ambient light in whirling glints and shadows, he hovers almost as protectively over Quarith as she does over her clutch.

Quarith extends a mental picture of the newly-laid egg, her special child - « This one is mine alone. The others you will call yours, but not this one. »

T'rell rocks back on his heels, thumbs hooked in his belt. He knew that. "Of course."

Quarith turns her jewelled eyes on Sejith, having declared her possession of her Own Egg, and warbles an endearment to the bronze, eyes whirling brightly with a mixture of reds and blues.

Quarith finds a touch of respite in the midst of her labors. Limbs stretch from their cramped positions as wings unfurl, fanning enough to unsettle the fine-grained sands and send them all to float about the gold's engorged form in a kind of smoky aureole. As gossamer sails furl back to her sides, revealed for all to see is Entangled Mints Enchanted Egg.

Saria chuckles softly, watching her lifemate carefully find the most perfect space for each of her children-to-be, and sending quiet support and encouragement to the queen as Quarith begins to dig, this time with just one foreleg, and positions herself to produce another egg, shuddering with the effort.

Sejith's thoughts swirl black sands and color. « The rest are more than enough. » The lightest cream is contrasted, blended with Quarith's own gold, and given willingly, if with a touch of longing at its, and her, beauty. She has always been unattainable.

Sejith senses Quarith's mindtouch swirls back to you, resplendent with her own soft pinkish gold, a tantalising taste of herself, as only you know her now - and dappled with all the colours of her new offspring, and the possible colours of those that will yet arrive. « The others.. they are yours, as well. You will stay with me, and keep them safe until the time comes. » The queen's tone has only the slightest hint of a question hidden within, the declaration firm as she communicates her desire, her *right*. to him.

Quarith pauses a moment, raising her head to fix Sejith with a meaningful stare, which causes Saria to raise an eyebrow as she watches the two dragons interact. Queen returns to her work, and bronze is left, for the moment, to consider her while she renews her labours.

Quarith grumbles a protest as a particularly violent contraction racks her gilded form, causing her sunset gold hide to shimmer magnificently. A fitting pregnant pause, before the glistening softness of Creamy Vanilla Scoop Egg wobbles onto the mounded sands, becoming peppered with the fine black grains.

Saria grimaces slightly, turning as she does to look up at T'rell, the bronzerider regarded with some trepidation. "What..what do you think, of that?" Weyrwoman asks carefully, shifting from foot to foot again, this time more from nervousness than the heat, although that's certainly still a factor — "Will he stay?"

Quarith croons lovingly over her brood as she takes some time now to carefully pile sand around and about her children, brushing some away with her tail, fanning it with half-furled wingsails, putting some back with well-placed scrapes of her forelegs.

Quarith is taken somewhat by surprise as the latest contraction forces itself upon her, and the queen hunkers down over the closest patch of sands not already occupied by one of her soon-to-be offspring, whirling eyes lidding heavily with the effort of expelling Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Egg.

T'rell's glance suddenly shifts to seek Saria's eyes, questioning. Sejith, simultaneously, gives a similar gaze to Quarith, ducking his head as if in acquiescence. "I should think so," the bronze's rider watches the dragons once more, nodding slowly as he drawls his response. "How could he refuse?" The man grins briefly to the Weyrwoman, acknowledging the defacto chain of command.

Saria lets out the breath she'd been holding without realizing she was doing so, expelling air and relaxing her shoulders. "I /hate/ to take you off sweeps," she says, with a hint of laughter and sarcasm in her voice. "But it seems I'm left no alternative. She /really/ wants Sejith to stay with her here. Somewhat more," she adds, "than she wants me here, I might even say, although it's a close toss on that one."

Quarith pauses for a moment, settling her head upon her forepaws with a weary — but still sweet — croon. The pause is only momentary; soon enough, her flanks begin to ripple rhythmically, honey-hued hide straining with nature's timelessness. As timeless as that birthing, another sweet-topped egg makes its way onto the sands, bursting with every delicacy known to man. Sundae-treats notwithstanding, Everything But The… Egg has just that: everything.

T'rell raises his eyebrows, letting events continue as he considers with an air of unconscious patience. "All the time?" he asks finally, without tone.

Quarith makes room for more eggs, spreading the sands, smoothing, and finally scratching out a new indentation. Sides contract for a minute, then two; wings furl to her sides and eyes whirl faster red with the effort before a peak of toasted honey makes its appearance and Peanut Turtles Egg rolls with some force into its' own hollow.

Quarith rumbles deeply, as if to answer the bronzerider's question to her beloved Saria, and extends her neck toward Sejith, tossing her head side-to-side demandingly, bugling her insistence that he remain near to /their/ offspring.

The Weyrwoman swallows, the heat making her vision blur, and has to wipe a bead of sweat from her brow with the back of one hand. "I do believe she means /all the time/." Saria says, somewhat apologetically, to T'rell.

Sejith's protection flows around Quarith's bright image, a pure rippling ocean to surround the golden and black-beached island. « I will stay with you as long as you need me to. » The eggs, each carefully tended, are regarded increasingly with paternal possessiveness, a shared creation and a shared duty to tend and hatch.

Quarith moves delicately, with the graceful air of a Southern Belle making her way through a room of would-be suitors, eyeing each patch of bare sand almost coyly as she determines where she will make her next stop. Finding the most suitable location, she prepares it deftly, crooning softly as she moves sand into place, and just in time, as another contraction shakes her golden form quite suddenly and with some force, and From Russia with Buzz Egg appears.

"Ah." T'rell nods slowly, any reaction absorbed and washed away by his interest in Quarith's production. Grey hair, wind-tossed by the ride over the Weyr's rim, begins to stick to his forehead in the heat, and he loosens his collar.

Saria watches her lifemate with great pride, and nods approval at the latest arrivals.

Quarith turns red-whirling eyes on Saria, searching out her lifemate's approval as she digs an indentation for her next offspring, the contractions becoming less intense now as the once egg-heavy queen has laid most of her clutch. After mere moments, the form of Extremely Caffeinated Bean Egg becomes visible, dark and rich as it oozes its way out with relatively little effort, landing neatly in the place made ready for it.

Quarith moves carefully about her growing clutch of eggs, her great bulk casting eerie shadows around and over them, her hide still glowing ever-brightly.

Sejith's own eyes tinge yellow at his queen's efforts, lingering and hovering while attempting to appear useful.

Saria glances up at T'rell curiously, testing the waters with her next statement in a tone that attempts to be light and breezy but only succeeds in sounding somewhat strained. "I.. I'm glad you were able to make it here in time, all the same… Perhaps it's as well that Quarith wants Sejith to stay on. I've some, ah, Weyr matters to discuss with you once she'll let me leave, and with him here, perhaps I won't have to spend the entire time they take to harden on the sands with her this time!"

Quarith mother-goddess-queen looms with regal grace, to which others might only aspire, over those glorious orbs that will one day produce her children. As her worshippers, supplicants all at the altar of her majesty, wait with hushed silence, she effortlessly deposits another minion-to-be upon the glittering black sands - Urban Jumble Egg.

T'rell winks lightly to Saria; perhaps his impassivity was simply distraction and internal discussion. "Looking for a little time off, is that it? I guess it'll give me a little extra time, at that," he notes with an arch of one brow and a shrug of a shoulder.

Weyrwoman shrugs, loosening her jacket a bit, "Not quite what I meant.. but I'll tell you later on. This isn't the time or the place."

Quarith warbles and croons brightly over her clutch, puffing out proudly at the size of it now, and makes space for another new arrival - Pulp Addiction Egg.

Sejith rumbles deep in his broad chest, encouragement and admiration as he oversees this process, tail sketching nervously in the sands behind him — far from the delicate mounds, of course.

Saria looks the clutch over with her own expression of pride, hands on hips and head held up high as she takes in the colors mingling with the glittering black sands. "It's a fine sight. A good big clutch for Ista Weyr," she says, "/even/ at our age," with a slight reference to the fact that she and T'rell are both 'mates from the same clutch so many turns ago. "Let's see.." she counts under her breath. "28," she murmurs thoughtfully.

Quarith finds that the sands are simply too cluttered now, and moves, minding every gingerly step with her great gleaming form, to clear a last space in the black sands for one more egg, and as she does, the odd shape of Peanut Butter Chocolate Egg comes into view, and with one last contraction, it drops onto the sands, where the queen supports it, pushing sand around the base to keep it stable.

Saria raises a brow, and then eyes unfocus for the briefest of moments. "29," she finally states, matter-of-factly. "She says they are all there, now." Smiling broadly, she looks up at those in the galleries and salutes, in typical Saria-fashion, letting them know that the clutch is complete.

T'rell finishes his count a few moments after Saria's, and nods confirmation. "Hey, age only makes a dragon better," he notes, lightly teasing. "Same goes for dragonriders, far as I can tell." He flashes a quick grin to the Weyrwoman, then steps back and snaps a salute back to her.

Saria purses her lips and chuckles. "We shall see about that," she says. "Now, think you that Sejith can keep her occupied while we chat about those few items I mentioned earlier?"

Sejith settles down in the sands, a barrier between admiring onlookers and Quarith's clutch. He can handle the gawkers. Attention has never been a problem.

T'rell nods, relaxing again and wiping perspiration from his forehead. "Sure, I think he's happy."

Saria moves towards her weyr, then. "Come on. I could use a glass of something cool," she says.

Saria walks off the sands. T'rell follows in complete agreement.

Hatching Grounds BROADCASTING (#4321)

The heat here is stifling, encompassing, swallowing mind and hazing sight into waved oblivion. Sparkling, coarse black sand simmers with volcanic urgency underfoot, its hillocks and dunes arranged to queen's liking; reflected light filters in, offered no even perceived respite. When empty, the vault of this cavern is hushed, still that echoes and rebounds; when occupied, it is intensified: clutch dominates view, and every sound resounds twicefold as loud as was intended.

Gold Quarith and bronze Sejith are here. You see Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Egg, Cherry Garcia Egg, Wild Blueberry Strawberry Everyberry Scoop Egg, Southern Pecan Pie Egg, Smooth and Creamy World's Best Vanilla Egg, Entangled Mints Enchanted Egg, Doonesbury Sorbet Egg, Creamy Vanilla Scoop Egg, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Egg, Everything But The… Egg, Peanut Turtles Egg, From Russia With Buzz Egg, Extremely Caffeinated Bean Egg, Urban Jumble Egg, Pulp Addiction Egg, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Egg here.

Too hot for you? Or you just need a break? No matter, this way is out!

You go to the Southeastern Bowl.

Southeastern Bowl (#529) This area of the bowl is the highest point of the bowl floor; from here, it slopes down and to the northwest, spilling out to the plateau below the wide gap in the Weyr rim to the west. Various tunnels here lead into the Weyr's inner caverns; the living caverns, hatching grounds, and main Weyr tunnel all branch off from here. To the west lie the stables where the Weyr's runners are housed. There is also a stone stairway that leads up to the Weyrleader's weyrs. It is an autumn afternoon.

Perched on rocky crags about the bowl are Restless, Nymph, Archer, Wine, and Etera. Blue Cherenth, bronze Nhamarath, blue Kyanth, brown Sevareth, blue Khantuth, and green Larisseth are here. G'deon and Saria are here.

G'deon nods to the Istan Weyrwoman and Wingleader. "Well done in there," he says politely, moving out of the way. "A fine clutch indeed."

Saria nods her head deeply in appreciation. "I thank you, bronzerider," she says, "And our duties to the 'Reaches, all. It's nice to see High Reaches represented. I hope you'll stay as long as you're able and join us. I'm sure there will be some celebration, it's a fair big clutch for a queen my Quarith's age."

Merra walks in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Daeyn stalks restively in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Merra walks to the Living Caverns. Daeyn stalks restively to the Living Caverns. Violetta walks in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Trimaka walks in from the Central Bowl. Egan walks in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Egan walks to the Living Caverns. Kerran walks quietly in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Trimaka walks to the Living Caverns. Violetta looks around. Kalyssa glides sensuously in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Kerran walks quietly to the Living Caverns. Violetta walks to the Living Caverns.

G'deon arches a brow, his blue eyes twinkling with amusement. "At Quarith's age? My dear Weyrwoman, if this is how your lifemate is doing at 'her age' she has a lot of fight left in her yet," he replies, bowing slightly at the hip. "And yes, I'll certainly be staying," he adds, moving to the side again as a few people herd past them. "Will you two be enjoying the celebration?" Kalyssa glides sensuously to the Living Caverns.

G'deon (#19620)

G'deon appears at first glance to be quite calm and collected, though a mischievous gleam seems to tint his blue eyes from time to time. He has grown into a rather well built frame and stands just less than six feet. Many Turns of hard work have helped his shoulders fill out considerably, along with his arms and hands. His legs however are still the wiry limbs of his youth, which he'll never lose. Newly cut hair tops this young man's head, the short hairs glistening hazily, a sandy blond frame for a lightly tanned face accented by his calm blue eyes, clear and blue as the summer sky over High Reaches.

It all begins with snowy lace, just a touch at the chin, then flows down to a gleaming sheath of leather, the jacket fitting tightly to his chest, white like a mountain's glacier. Below is a wide belt of wherhide, a tight loop of ashy cream, and cascading down from there are skin-tight breeches, the color of morning frost, met at the knees by soft leather boots, icy like the oncoming clouds of winter.

Unwavering shadows intertwine with the deep dark blue of a glacier, the two cords forming a single loop. A long tail of the same black and blue hangs from the top of the knot, joined by a thread of silver. Mingling with the cords is a fine ribbon of shimmering bronze, naming G'deon as a bronze rider of High Reaches. Added to his clothing just beneath the knot is a small pin, the emblem of High Reaches accented by licking flames, indicating he is an Inferno rider.

G'deon is 21 Turns, 1 month, and 20 days old.

T'rell chuckles again at Saria's age comments. "I don't know," he grins to the 'Reaches bronzerider. "Depends on how much partying we've got left in us at 'our age'."

Kino walks in from the Central Bowl. Kino walks to the Living Caverns. Tierza walks in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Rikaeli walks in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance.

Tierza nods and smiles at the Saria and T'rell. "Congratulations on such a beautiful clutch."

Rikaeli stands slightly next to and behind Tierza and nods with her to Saria and T'rell.

"You're too kind," she adds to the 'Reaches bronzerider, and glances briefly at T'rell, answering, for herself, "I should be, aye, but I do have a few things I must attend to first. This took me by surprise and I was in the middle of a bit of business." Saria smiles graciously. "I'm not sure I caught your name, bronzerider, or if I did, it must have slipped me in all this excitement. You and your lifemate are?" Saria smiles in thanks at Tierza and Rikaeli. "Our thanks, mine and Quarith's alike," she says to them, turning briefly from her conversation. "Please, join the celebration in the Living Caverns if it suits you, I'm sure we'll be having a fine time this afternoon!"

G'deon laughs softly and holds out a hand. "Sorry, I'm G'deon, rider of Nylanth. It'd been Turns since I'd been to a clutch here at Ista, I didn't want to miss this one." He turns, making way yet again for a small crowd. "Well then, perhaps we'll meet again. Good luck with… your business."

Tierza grins and nods again, not wanting to interrupt a conversation. A quick wink to G'deon and then she heads to the caverns. "Come on Riki, Natch /did/ say we were to enjoy ourselves today. But…" And she chuckles at the appy, "I know those rules…."

Rikaeli chuckles and follows Tierza,"You know /Rishandra's/ rules…"

Saria crosses G'deon's palm with her own, taking it firmly and nodding as she fixes his and his lifemate's names in her mind. "Well met indeed," she says, "and I'm very glad you were able to come. You're most welcome, and I'll try to get back 'round and see you again as soon as I've taken care of these little odds and ends." She lets go of his hand, and flashes him another winning and genuine smile.

Char moves with slow, deliberate strides, a slight limp marring their fluidity, in from the Central Bowl.

Saria glances at T'rell questioningly. "If you're ready, Wingleader?" she asks.

Linora walks softly in from the Hatching Grounds Entrance. Trimaka walks in from the Central Bowl.

G'deon returns the smile and steps back, again waving to the two Istans before heading off in search of that music drifting through.

Linora walks softly to the Living Caverns.

T'rell grins at the compliments as Saria, the rightful recipient of them, replies. "Good to meet you, G'deon, and our best to your dragon. Absolutely," he fluidly replies to the weyrwoman. "Excuse me." He nods to the other bronzerider as he takes his leave.

Trimaka walks out. Tierza says, "Well Lin, home or the Caverns?"

Saria nods greetings to Char with a smile, and moves smoothly for the stairs up tot he Weyrleaders' landing.

Saria disappears up the stairs to the Weyrleaders' weyrs above.

Stone steps, well worn and wide, head up to the weyrs above.

Landing Overlook (#2135)

This wide stone landing leads to the individual weyrs of Ista's Queens and Weyrleader. The ledge is big enough to hold a dozen dragons easily. The stone has been worn smooth near the edge from countless turns of dragons landing… It is an autumn afternoon.

To the southwest, you see Vaelyth. Gold Synth, gold Serath, bronze Mnedzanth, and bronze Salbaheth are here. Saria is here.

Talon-scars and smooth rock, this large landing breaks off in various directions towards tiered ledges.

Saria walks to the Quarith's Weyr. You go to the Quarith's Quandry.

Quarith's Quandry (#4408)

Glowbaskets cast soft light around the black volcanic rock walls of this weyr. Saria's bag of rushes is on one side of the sizeable cavern, and on the other side, Quarith's couch. At the far end, near the exit to the hatching sands, is a large round table with four chairs. The backs of the chairs are carved so that each one looks as though there is a small firelizard sitting on either side with their tails curled down around the chairs. On the table, Saria's wingleader guide and a few other scrolls are spread out for her perusal. It is an autumn afternoon. The wind rakes the land with its chilling touch, and the sun seems pale, offering little warmth.

On the wooden perch in the corner are Salic, Tenshi, and Flick. Saria is here.

T'rell follows Saria in, halting to stand near the entrance in something akin to formality.

Saria turns to him, her 'for the masses' mask falling from her face as she motions him in. "Come in, come in, for Faranth's sake."

T'rell shrugs, following Saria's gesture. "What's up?" He wonders, strolling in from the doorway and pausing behind a nearby chair.

Saria smiles. "Sit if you like," she says, tentatively. "I'm sorry for all that 'avoidance' of the topic earlier. It's actually not so much Weyr business as my business."

A look of puzzlement crosses the man's face as he pulls out the chair, slowly sitting. "All right," he inclines his head briefly, shrugging his jacket into a more comfortable position as he settles into the seat.

Saria sits as well, and looks apologetic. "I.. didn't know how to say this, or I would have sooner. I think part of it was me being selfish, wanting to enjoy the clutching without this hanging over our heads, if you made it there, and you did." She looks at you earnestly. "It seems there were some consequences for myself as well as for Quarith from the mating flight.." she says, hoping that she can make herself clear without having to outright *say* the words, as they frighten her almost as much as what her long-time friend's reaction will be.

"Consequences." T'rell shakes his head, uncomprehending. "Okay." He gathers together the unconnected concepts, turning them around to fit them together as he studies Saria and waits for the rest. His hands rest on the armrests, rider in a state of stillness, quiescent motion.

"I'm sorry," she says. "I'm with child. Yours." There. Plain and simple. In some way what she always wanted. Now that she's said it, her face grows long, released from the tension of having to come out and *say* it, and falls into an expression combining fear and sadness from deep within her.

T'rell seems to be stunned. Literally. He freezes, staring at Saria. After a long moment, he blinks, opens his mouth to speak; nothing comes out, and he closes it again.

Saria slips from her seat, dropping to her knees in front of him and covering his hands with her own, hesitantly. "I'm sorry. I know what this means to me, but I don't know what it means to you. I - couldn't tell you before, and it became too late, you happily weyrmated with someone else - but I've cared about you for a long time, and if I - if this is the only way I can have you, a part of you… I want it to live."

"No, no," T'rell shakes his head, taking her hands firmly as he stands, guiding her up off her knees. "Don't be sorry." A bit of the shock wears off. "Faranth," he breathes softly. "Saria." He meets her eyes unwaveringly, deep brown. "I care for you, you know that."

"You do..?" she murmurs, incredulous, as she is brought to her feet. "I.. could only have hoped," she says, squeezing his hands firmly in return. "But I know you've other committments.." she looks at him earnestly, thinking of Kaeryn the harper, and of the sweet little child with whom she'd encountered him at the beach near his weyr. "..I'd do anything for this child, though, T'rell."

T'rell still responds with difficulty as the thought and all its variety of consequences penetrates his understanding. "Yes," he confirms, "and yes. Kaeryn and Brencia and…" He inhales audibly. "And now you. And a child." It's a lot for a previously confirmed bachelor to take all at once. "At least you won't be asked to go :between:, with Quarith on the sands." He escapes the personal considerations in favor of practical ones, moving a hand up to a light touch on Saria's shoulder.

A shiver runs down Saria's spine at your touch on her shoulder - before, that touch was something only imagined, and in the aftermath of Quarith's flight, she could convince herself that it was only dragonlust. Now, perhaps, something more, but at the very least, a real caring for her and for their unborn child. "I want you as a part of this, as much as you're willing and able," she says gently, placing a palm against your chest, and leaning her head against you as well, alongside it. "I didn't think I would have another child," she adds, "but I'm so glad it's yours."

A flicker of confusion passes across his brown eyes, still, as T'rell accepts Saria in a tentative embrace. Dragonlust made it easier, but didn't create the attraction; that was there from the day he first met her — then a childish crush. Through more than twenty turns, a friendship and countless shared experiences.

Quiet, still - Saria has said all she needs to say with words, and lingers there, wrapping her other arm around his back and looking at him, a question in her eyes as she tips her head as if hoping to seal this strange and new chapter in their long history together with a kiss. Uncertain, still, of how deep his feelings for her reside, she will content herself with whatever part of him is shared, as long as it is shared freely. Hope is there, enough to hold on to.

Finally, with an effort, the man finds language. Perhaps not perfect in expression; "Saria, if you want this child," he starts awkwardly, nearly a whisper in her ear, "then I'm glad." Realizing the question, he answers with motion instead of more insufficient words, offering a kiss — a manifestation of long admiration and a gradual and unattainable love. Yet it also holds within it a note of finality in a gesture of giving. He cannot promise — will not promise — more than the lasting friendship and support he has always given.

The motion, and all it carries, makes itself understood as she relaxes into you for this brief moment, showing you her feelings as well; that she is sincere, and always will be, in her love for you, no matter who else may share a part of her life, and that her loyalty as a friend to you will never waver. Saria is the one who breaks the kiss, then, reluctantly - wanting you to know she felt the message and will respect it. Opening eyes blink at sudden change in light, and she regards you with a slight half-smile, resigned, but happy. "Thank you, for wanting this for me too," she murmurs as she takes a slight half-step back, as if being near to you like that for a moment longer would be unbearable, to have the unattainable so close. "I.. suppose I, perhaps 'we', should go make an appearance at the festivities in the Living Cavern, play the gracious hosts?"

T'rell breaks the seriousness of the moment with a crooked grin. "Give a guy a chance, will ye?" he squeezes Saria's shoulder lightly and runs a hand through his ever-unruly hair. "Yeah, you're right," he admits, however; "Besides, we've got more to celebrate than the rest, don't we?" A quick shake of his head communicates the shock that the bronzerider is still experiencing, a disbelief despite all reasonable knowledge. "Um…" He sits back down in the chair. "Let's not spread it around just yet, if you don't mind." A supplicating glance up to the goldrider.

Saria chuckles softly, just nodding at both his comment and his request, having known that he would ask that by virtue of having known T'rell for as long as she has. "I - I don't think anyone even suspects, at this point, and as a healer I can take care of myself a bit longer without wanting someone to monitor my health. You tell me, when I can share it - as I'm sure that even if I don't say the father's name, people will put two and two together." She sighs softly.

"Don't put yourself at any risk," T'rell insists, abruptly serious again as he pushes out of the chair. "I just — well, you know," he shrugs, a half smile at the corner of his mouth. "I'm not sure how Kae will take the news, what with her expecting our second."

"I won't," she says, carefully, then adds as an afterthought with a wry smile, "You should know I wouldn't. And I understand, about Kaeryn," she says, pronouncing the name as though it were something large and hard to swallow stuck in her mouth, without really meaning to, "and I wouldn't want to cause any friction."

T'rell glances down at the scuffed toes of his boots. "Thanks." A breath, or two. "Right." He lifts his gaze, self-consciously rubbing the back of his neck. "I guess we should get down there." A smile, finally, genuine.

Saria puts on her "company" smile and flashes it brightly at him in return, laughing a bit in a tone that carries years of memories with it. "Aye, let's go be good hosts," she chirps, suprressing her amusement and linking her arm in his. "It's a good thing I'm the way I am," she says, "Or I might just hit the wine too hard again - you know how I get. C'mon," and she tugs him out toward the landing.

T'rell's final laughing comment echoes in the empty weyr as the riders leave. "Aye, I've gotten you that way on a time, eh?"

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