Warped

Half Moon Bay Weyr - Hot Springs/Created by the fires of the volcano a pocket of ancient air has created this huge open cavern in the black stone. Most of the floor is covered by bubbling mineral water that gleams azure in the dim light of glows. Swirls of green, blue, red, yellow, black and white are awash on the walls and floor, earmarks of earlier times when the hot water boiled out of its bed and rose to fill the dark cavern.
A few signs of humanity can be found. A trunk with soft fluffy towels, soap and a boardwalk erected through the middle of the four pools so that people can find their way to the hot water without burning their feet along the way. It is rumored that an hour in the hot water can melt away even the worse of troubles, leaving a person relaxed and ready to face a new day with vigor.


It's not only post-chore time, but post-workout time for the (unknown) warrior-Holder that is Leeta, and — after her bath — she's now found in the hot springs, kicked back in one of the pools with her triad of firelizards, taking the sting out of sore muscles. On occasion, her level, muted alto is heard through slowly eddying mists conversing with some male voice…the two chatting about candidacy, weyrlinghood, and the oddities of crazy lifemates. On occasion, both voices laugh or snicker.

Teinon has never bothered with workouts. His job has generally been enough to keep him in shape, what with all the lifting, hauling, etc. But it turns out that the broad spectrum of tasks assigned to candidates is straining muscles even he doesn't use all that often… And hey, what's the point of hot springs if you don't use them? So he slips into the hot springs carrying a towel. His steps slow when he hears voices laughing and chatting, some indecision marking his expression. He doesn't exactly turn back… but he doesn't continue on, either, which results in his just sort of lurking like a creepy creeper.

The sounds that Teinon makes while approaching the various pools is heightened by the concentrated moisture in the air, so when the wooden platform under his feet lets off a low squeak, Leeta's head and eyes swivel to focus on where it might've come from. After some moments while the male voice notes around a sigh, "Okay, gotta go. Kel wants *her* soak in the dragon-sized pools." Snert. "Priorities…" Leeta notes in a drawl of dark humor, then adding, "Thanks fer the chat." More knowledge is always appreciated. "No problem. Enjoy your soak, Leeta. Don't miss dinner, though. You got about 45 minutes." As what turns out to be a big, beefy man steps out of the pool with his towel around his hips, he encounters Teinon, gives him an easy baritone, "Hello, Candidate," before passing him by.

Teinon steps aside to be out of the big fellow's way. He returns the greeting with a self-conscious sort of smile and half-salute. Once the rider is past, Tei finds a dry spot to leave his towel and heads to the edge of the pool. He's still wearing his clothes from the day, but he does't climb in fully clothed, at least. He takes the time to roll up his trousers, then sits on the edge of the pool and puts his feet in. Once he's settled, he offers Leeta a little smile of greeting, then looks back at the water and his soaking feet.

Ahh…so *that's* who it is. The look of recognition on Leeta's face is swift, and she bobs her plaited, coronet-braided-up head to Teinon. As he doesn't quite get into the pool, the woman notes dryly, "Ain't gonna get rid of your aches *that* way." Half-assed submergement, she means. On occasion, soft chirples and cheeps of firelizard pleasure emerge from her pets, who are similarly floating, enjoying the heat. "Guess yer not gonna be talking via paper in here, are you?" Smirk.

Teinon lifts a shoulder at Leeta, tugs up self-consciously on his high collar, but then swings one leg up to let his toes surface, wiggling them a little before letting them sink again. It's good enough for him, apparently. The last question and the smirk that accompany it earn her an uncomfortable smile back. He signs a few words at her, then makes a face and shrugs.

She's not a former Guard for nothing. Those keen, insightful green eyes notice the tug Teinon gives to his collar, and one white-gold brow lifts fractionally, Leeta falling silent as she rummages round in her head. Finally, it comes in a murmur that's a little hard to hear, even in this place: "Born with no vocal cords…'r something 'r somebody severed them?"

Teinon frowns deeply enough to show that Leeta must have hit the truth with one of those guesses. He stares hard at the water for a moment. Then two. Then he starts climbing back to his feet, not paying too much mind to the water he splashes over the edge in the process.

Yes, she's know for hitting the mark more often than not, and when it shows, Leeta bobs her head, notes quietly, "Don't make any difference to dragons, kid. Or me. You survived it, and though you may be a little broken, you're still whole." Huh? If he wants to leave, she's not going to stop him.

Teinon glances at Leeta as he goes to get his towel and dry off his hands and feet. Once his hands are dry enough, he reaches into his pocket for that paper. Apparently it's worth sacrificing a scrap for this, in spite of the dampness of the air. He writes for a minute, then brings it over to hold it out for her to read. If she does decide to read it, it says, "Stop using me to say things you want to say to yourself. — And stop calling me 'kid.' You're barely older than me."

Leeta dries her fingers on her hair, accepts that scrap of paper, reads it unblinkingly. After a few moments, laser-focused green eyes meet his blues, and the woman's lips tip into a little half-smile half-smirk. Nope, she's not upset or angry as Teinon's reactions. "Good. You've got fire." As for using him and words to herself, well, there's a little, dismissive flick of fingers. Not accurate, it might say. The barely older than me part ears him a cocky grin, flashing white, even teeth. "You know that they only accept males into candidacy until 25, right?" Is she trying to poke at him, or what?

Teinon rolls his eyes toward the ceiling at the first, but the second just earns her a slight raised eyebrow. He stares at her for another long few seconds, head tilted… Assessing her, with a caution akin to what he'd use to assess a particularly headstrong herdbeast. After a consideration, he takes a cross-legged seat a short distance from the pool. He's conservative with the paper usage, since she's been known to try to keep them, but still writes a note with his thigh used as a writing surface. It's awkward, but he has plenty of practice at that sort of thing. He passes it over, and waits with a pointedly raised eyebrow. "You guessed mine. Tell me yours. What happened to you?"

Headstrong might be one of the accurate descriptors for Leeta, indeed…as might be stubborn as a herdbeast. Still, she remains quiet when Teinon decides to stay, the woman watching his reactions in between scritching her pets as they drift by on the circulating water, now and then. The acceptance of her fellow candidate's note, and his raised brow are reasons for her to chew on her mental 'cud' more, this round, before finally murmuring flatly, "Imprisoned by renegades." Shrug.

Both brows shoot up this time, and by the rapid-fire blinking, Teinon probably didn't expect her to actually answer. He sits for a moment, solemnly looking at his blank paper. In the end, instead of writing, he engages in a bit of rudimentary sign. He holds up one finger, crooked into the shape of a hook, and squints one eye closed in a cartoonish snarl. He draws the hooked finger in a line across his throat, then shrugs a little and looks back to the paper. The next note he passes is a simple, seemingly-unrelated question. "Did you touch the eggs?"

She knows he didn't expect her answer, and it shows in Leeta's faint bob of head. She watches Teinon keenly as he pantomimes, the woman soon noting quietly, "Pirates?" A small scowl touches her face for a few moments, is just as quickly swept away to leave her looking 'neutral' once more. As for the eggs, there's a shake of head, a quiet, "Chauth's a real f…" Snert. "Pain in the ass over her eggs."

Teinon nods to confirm her guess, still somewhat solemn. He looks down to scratch out a longer note, then holds it out. "You were a candidate before, right?" it says, in that barely-legible scrawl. "Do you think it's bad to let people like you and me touch them? They're just babies." He seems keenly interested in her answer, as serious as ever.

Yeah, another accurate inference on her part. Leeta looks back down at her little brown pet, caresses his tummy as he rolls over…probably looking for just such a thing from his mistress. Finally, the woman accepts that note after returning her gaze up and out once again, ruminating upon her answer for a little bit. Again quietly, it comes flatly: "Might be." Shrug. Blink. "Bad for you ta' touch the eggs? Shit no." Pfft. "Tough as nails little babies." Snicker.

Teinon doesn't look too convinced, but he goes back to his paper. He's going to end up using it all up, but that isn't slowing him down. It takes some time to get his thoughts out, and once he has, he holds the note for her without quite looking at her. He chooses to watch the firelizards instead. "Most people just have normal bad things. They're digging around in the worst of our memories. What if it warps them?"

While Teinon writes, Leeta pets and fusses with her three pets, the sounds of their pleasure in her touches soft on the heavy air. When she reads his next note, there's a chuff of darkest humor, then a sure shake of her head. Almost casually the Holder notes, "They don't get warped, 'r there'd likely be a bunch of freaky dragons around." Shrug. "If they don't want us, they won't pick us. It's supposed to be the right match, still…no matter what. I think they just accept us for who we are, overall. Dragons aren't humans. Look at what canines an' firelizards accept in humans."

Teinon drums the pencil on his knee, staring at the firelizards playing in the water without actually seeming to see any of it. He still has that vague sort of frown. Finally, he seems to come to a decision, and he scrawls another note and holds it out. "I've seen a freaky dragon before. It can happen."

"Uv' course it can… but I bet that dragon was freaky to start with…" Leeta notes with that same odd assurance in her voice after reading the latest note. "Even mostly stable personalities like dragons sometimes have their deviations. Look at that white dragon in the Last Pass." Shrug. "I've heard since I was a kid that dragons don't hurt humans, except as bumbling hatchlings, or maybe to protect their riders from something really horrible."

Teinon still doesn't seem convinced. He taps the pencil on his knee for awhile, once again engaging in what might be an annoying anxious habit. This time, after he writes his note, he holds it out for her to see, but he's carefully to keep it tight in hand. "I've heard since _I_ was a kid that dragons don't Impress murderers. Maybe what we've heard is wrong." Once she's seen it, he pulls the paper back and starts erasing it.

Leeta's nothing but patient right now, the woman just relaxing, being affectionate with her pets, and listening in silence. When Teinon's next note comes — sort-of — she smirks at her fellow candidate, then reads the scrawl upon it, eyes only. Brow-arch, peer. "Well, I know that one's sorta wrong, 'cause I know uv' a former Guard from High Reaches who Impressed a brown about 7 Turns ago. Guy's got 3 kills under his belt."

Teinon shakes his head at that, and doesn't even delay writing his rebuttal. The handwriting is even messier, but just barely legible as he holds it out. "That's different. Like you said, even dragons will kill to protect their rider. It's not murder if you're a guard protecting people."

"Revenge, then…" is all Leeta responds with when Teinon rebutts her, the woman looking as blandly neutral as is humanly possible. "Honestly don't know about that one. I figure if a dragon wants you — NEEDS you — that won't really figure into it too much. They were created ta' NEED a human partner… So I figure if you're the one, even with…Cue Leeta's gesture upon the air — indicative of the unspoken spectre of murder — "…then that's it. Hell, littles don't understand shit like revenge, hate, stuff like that."

Teinon shakes his head a little, and back to the paper he goes. Scribble, scribble, then he holds up a paper. "What if you're wrong?" His eyebrows lift and he watches her, waiting to see if she's taking the question seriously.

That new piece of paper with the short, but perhaps complex question upon it meets with a thoughtful look — level and unflinching — Leeta then turning it upon Teinon. Her green gaze is mercilessly direct, no room for lies or kindnesses in it. Murmured flatly: "Then the person doesn't Impress. And life still goes on…and you make the best of it that you can, 'cause not having a dragon partner isn't the end of the world."

Teinon shakes his head while she's still talking, a look of vague frustration, and starts writing again before she's even finished. It takes a minute for him to finish it, especially since he has to be pretty careful with the paper while writing on a less-than-ideal surface. But finally, he passes it over. "Not about that. I'm okay with not Impressing. But what if the reason murderers can Impress is because the wrong candidate can warp the eggs before they're born?"

One of Leeta's pale brows goes arching up on high this time, her erroneous conclusion soon straightened out with Teinon's latest missive. This time, her pause is the longest of all, the woman's chin settling to her water-covered chest, her gaze moving to her pets…the green firelizard rowing close to her person and carefully climbing up to wrap behind Leeta's neck. Churrrr. As if finally shaken from her inner reverie, the Holder slowly lifts her head back up, eyes level on the other candidate, and murmurs, "I honestly don't know."

Teinon sighs and looks toward the water again, with a return of that solemn look, touched with a dash of anxiety. He chews on his lip, and goes back to tapping his pencil eraser on his knee. Finally, reluctantly, he returns to the paper. "I should talk to one of the dragonhealers."

"About your…past?" Leeta notes a bit tightly. "It's none uv' their business, really. And if y' feel so…insistent about it, you c'n manage to be absent for any touchings." The former Guard is speaking about getting around the problem?? Gadzooks.

A flash of guilt darkens blue eyes as Teinon looks to the side, his fingers tightening on the pencil. He writes a little more carefully this time, taking his time to make the letters clear. "I don't want to skip them if I don't have to. I won't get another chance. But I don't want to hurt them just because I'm selfish." He passes the note, jaw set in a grim expression.

"Then you have ta' make up your mind…" Leeta mutters darkly, her gaze a little flinty. "Honestly, I don't think the wee ones in the eggs take on any uv' our mental crap. It ain't Impression, after all. Quit overthinking it."

Teinon flinches a little from that look, dropping his gaze to stare at the paper and what's written there. What he hasn't already erased, anyway. He takes a deep breath, folds it up and tucks it away. The pencil soon disappears, as well, and with a grim smile for Leeta and no explanation as to what he might have decided, he scoots over to the pool to dunk his feet back in.

She looks as if to say something more to Teinon for just a second, then Leeta's lips tighten, and she shrugs delicately, so as not to disturb the now dozing green upon her shoulders. He'll do as he wants to, and ultimately, it's none of her business…fool though he might potentially be. Green eyes slowly close, and the woman stretches out beneath the water, her back arching a little as she finally yawns. No stranger to silence, the former Guard simply absorbs the relaxation of the pools until her brown firelizard cheeples a soft inquiry Leeta-ward. "Blugh… dinner time soon."

It's not all too common for people to be comfortable with silence, but since Leeta is, Teinon lingers and soaks his feet, his upper body propped up on his hands. He's already a little drowsy-eyed by the time the brown chirps, and offers a vague, distracted smile and a wave of his hand. He doesn't seem likely to move from that spot, anytime soon.

After settling her green gently to the warm rocky floor above the water, Leeta nabs her big, thick towel, and performs a smooth and seamless move of wrapping herself in it while climbing out of the water, only a flash of pale thigh seen for a moment. Blotting herself off with another, smaller towel, the woman notes quietly to Teinon, "Save it for another time. Eat now, mope later." It's not harsh, merely factual advice. Off she steps towards the cubbyholes where clothing is stored, to find a bench to settle her butt on, and start tugging on clothing, her back to the pools.

Teinon has gone back to staring at the water by the time Leeta makes her little comment. He rolls his eyes and makes a face at her that involves wrinkling his nose and sticking out his tongue. As far as visible thighs and clothing shenanigans go, he seems rather unaffected by all that. At least her goading seems to have worked. He climbs to his feet and goes to dry them off. Eating /is/ pretty important.

She knows how to motivate people with some fire (and pride) in them. Leave it to a Guard. Leeta nods once to Teinon as he too starts drying off, most of her clothes now on. Socks and boots are last, tugged on and straightened, the latter laced up and tied with militaristic precision before she stands, stretches out, and jerks her chin living cavern-ward. Noted to nobody in particular as her three pets shake off excess water and take to the sky, "I really like this place…" before she starts off towards dinner. Alone or with Teinon in tow is up to him.

It really doesn't take Teinon long to step back into his shoes and lace them up. He nods to acknowledge her comment, taps his chest, then gives a thumbs up sign. A bit of that distance and thoughtfulness remains, but he's left it on the back burner, for now. He trails after her to the living caverns, if only because she deserves to be stuck with him after taunting him out of the warm comfy water.


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