Familiar Faces

Day 16 of Month 11 of Turn 2
Half Moon Bay Weyr - Weyrling Training Field
Near the tall black eastern wall of the crater is a cleared field. The earth there has been churned many times over by the landings and take offs of young dragons and only a few patches of grass cling to life in this active area. Wooden props and markers used to assist the weyrlings as they learn the precise maneuvers required for the rescue and protection work that the weyr is famous for, litter the training field. Close to the rimwall, in the east where the sun is usually shaded is a large wooden slat barracks for the weyrlings to live in. Tropical trees and shrubs have been allowed to grow here, perfuming the air with a floral scent.


The air is crisp and cool this morning, with the kind of clear grey sky you really only get in winter. Most of the weyrlings must be off doing something else, because the training grounds are mostly empty… Empty, that is, except for one particular green with her smattering of gold specks that shimmer brilliantly against the dull sky. The pair are currently aloft, sailing unsteadily in a curve about the grounds only a short distance above the ground. Zhelinath lands at a shallow angle, hitches and stumbles once or twice as she regains her foot, then prances to a halt. N'on looked to be pretty jostled by all that, but his grin is pretty broad as he slides down to the ground and takes a moment to scratch an itch on the green's eyeridge.

Now, here's a face that hasn't been seen around Half Moon Bay for a while. Etinei, bundled up in a slightly too-big coat and a dark blue scarf against the winter's chill, ambles her way over from the east bowl. She has the look of someone who's searching for something - or someone, perhaps, for her eyes are on the young green pair flying above the training fields. Her feet catch on a loose rock as she makes her way further into the bowl, towards where the pair are coming in to land. The girl's got a two in three chance of it being one of her friends from candidacy; and as she gets closer, it becomes clear that the pretty green's rider is N'on (unless Petra has completely changed appearance). A smile brightening her face, Etinei waves enthusiastically at the weyrling as she continues her approach.

Not much has changed about N'on, really. He's still dressed in much the same clothing: functional, multipurpose, and plain. He even still sports the white turtleneck, in spite of the grief he was given for wearing it on the sands. His main accommodation to the winter and various considerations that come with being a weyrling is a worn leather jacket that is probably some sort of hand-me-down, considering that it's a bit long for him. The pair seem to notice Etinei's presence almost in the same instant, because they simultaneously look up at her with oddly identical expressions, considering that one face is human and the other draconic. N'on's quizzical look turns into a broad grin when he recognizes her, and he starts the walk over to meet her with a return of the enthusiastic wave. Unless she retreats from it, he most definitely goes in for a hug.

There's something comfortingly familiar to see Teinon - no, N'on, now - even with the addition of the leather jacket. And the green at his side, of course. Whether or not she would have retreated from the hug isn't made clear, for it catches her completely by surprise. The initial alarm translates into a stiff body, but somehow, seeing N'on and being embraced by her friend makes her relax. "N'on!" She'll breathe in relief, before she disengages to get a better look at him in his new garb. "How are you?" There's earnestness in her voice as she smiles up at him, expression delighted.

N'on pulls away with an almost embarrassed look, but not a trace of apology for the exuberant greeting. In answer to her question, he mock-solemn thumbs up, then gestures toward her with a clear questioning expression. Zhelinath, meanwhile, gracefully sidles her way along an arc that allows her to get a better look at Etinei.

Etinei totally gets what he means. "I'm good! Everyone seems sort of worried about illness going around, but I…I'm just keeping my head down and studying." The words all come tumbling out, as if she's eager to speak to N'on for the first time in so long. More probably would have followed that initial rush, but Zhelinath is right there, looking at her, and Etinei stops talking to look at the green with blatant curiosity. "Hello. You're - Zhelinath?" She hopes she's remembering the green's name correctly! And doesn't seem hesitant about addressing the dragon directly.

Zhelinath folds her wings primly and settles down so that she can her head at least slightly /closer/ to eye level with Etinei. « Hello. You are Etinei, » the green responds, with a whispered flurry of pens scratching against aged parchment. « We are very happy to meet you. You should learn the sign language. »

N'on snorts a little and places a quelling hand on the green's neck, but she just /looks/ at him. « It does not matter if she lives here. She is your friend. You should teach her. » N'on rolls his eyes, but he's grinning as he glances over at Etinei and traces a circle over his heart with a fist.

Being directly addressed by the green keeps Etinei smiling, and she's looking over the dragon, as impressed by her lovely colour as she is by her size. "I am," she confirms. "I'm happy to meet you, too." She seems intrigued by the comment about learning sign language, and looks to N'on now, eyebrows lifted a little, questioningly. She does recognise that sign he makes, and after a moment to delve into her memory, remembers the associated meaning. "That's okay. I should have carried on studying it after I left Half Moon but…it's all been a bit…." Weird? Lonely? Who can say what she would have finished that sentence with, for Etinei's moving on. "I can't believe how much she's grown. And you're flying now." She sounds awed as she looks between human and dragon, grinning.

There's a flash of something very close to sympathy when Etinei doesn't finish that sentence, but N'on at least has the sense to realize the impulse might not be received favorably. He looks away quickly, under the guise of admiring Zhelinath, until the moment passes. « It is understandable that you would not, » the green remarks, as she starts preening a bit at her foreclaws. « There are not many like mine. Who would you talk to? » She continues preening as she considers the problem, then sits up a bit as the solution occurs to her. « You should visit more often, » she declares. With that problem solved, she goes back to the very important task of making sure her claws are just /so/.

Etinei considers that thought, motor functions pausing for a moment. "There might be others," she says, once a conclusion has been reached. "Maybe - it would encourage more people to join the crafts, if there were people there who could talk to them?" She's addressing Zhelinath with the reply, but does look to N'on, silently seeking his opinion on the matter. "And I do want to visit more!" She says, half protest and half promise. "I…it's just…." She struggles to find the words again for that, deflating. "I thought I had to stay away for a while." That excuse sounds flimsy even as she says it, and the guilty look in Etinei's eyes implies that she knows that.

Zhelinath looks toward N'on and they share a moment of…something between them. When the green looks back to Etinei, it's with a quizzically tilted head. « If you needed to care for yourself, we understand, » she remarks simply. N'on nudges Etinei and starts signing away, not too worried about being slow enough for her to understand or keeping the signs limited. The reason is obvious when Zhe starts translating. « It's not a terrible idea, if a voice isn't needed for the craft. I almost didn't accept Candidacy because I couldn't talk to anyone here. » Zhelinath translates that last sentence, but gives N'on a sort of exasperated look as she does. « There might not be enough people to make it worth it, though. »

Etinei looks back at Zhelinath, as quizzical as the green, though without the tilted head. There's a silent look of thanks to the green first, and then to N'on. Then she watches him signing, catching the odd one that she thinks she's seen before, but although she looks interested, there's no understanding. Thank goodness for Zhelinath then, the mental subtitles for N'on's speech. "It could be a start," she says softly, her smile rather different now; more subtle, but still warm. "I'm so pleased for you, N'on. You and Zhelinath…it's wonderful."

N'on's expression softens a little and he glances to Zhelinath, his hands poised to speak, but frozen there as though momentarily lost for words. When the moment passes, he looks back at Etinei with a faint embarrassment. Zhelinath seems to have her own ideas, because she arches her neck and nudges Etinei affectionately, with a quiet croon. « You are good and kind. Thank you for being a friend to my N'on. »

Etinei is already amused by N'on's speechlessness, and the nudge from Zhelinath is the cherry on top that makes her actually giggle. "I'm glad you're my friend too, N'on. I am sorry that I didn't visit for so long…." She watches him, the apology as much in the softening of her eyes as in her words. "Will you be able to visit? When you're both ready?" She does include Zhelinath in that, even offering a hand toward her should the green wish to have a head scratch - she's done this before, though she's not so silly as not to seek permission.

Zhelinath deigns to dip her head down to allow a scratch from Etinei. She even leans into it a bit, guiding the hand to the itchy spots. N'on grins while looking on, but answers with an enthusiastic nod. The signs are simpler this time, but Zhelinath still translates. « Soon. We must be stronger, first. »

Etinei scratches away, the memory of her Search roused. Greens and head scratches - and those itchy spots they're happy to guide you to. She pulls her eyes from her happy watching of Zhelinath's head, to watch N'on as he talks again. There's that faint recognition of signs she hasn't seen for a long while, but Zhelinath's translation is certainly needed for her to get the full understanding. "And then you'll be going between?" Is it a bit weird to talk to N'on, while it's the pleasant voice in her head that's answering? Maybe a tiny bit, but the apprentice isn't showing it, nor is she deterred.

N'on nods confirmation of her guess, but then hesitates and adds a quick correction with Zhelinath's help. « We have a lot to learn, still. Between will come at the end. Then we can visit. And fight the enemy. » The last is added matter-of-factly, but N'on shoots her a slightly annoyed look. Zhelinath looks back at him blandly, and there seems to be some sort of silent exchange before the green just snorts and rests her chin on the ground, nudging Etinei to encourage her to continue the scratches.

Etinei giggles again at Zhelinath's apparent addition, and the interaction between the pair. And there's a nudge! She can't let up on the scratches, and continues to happily oblige, although she does swap hands so as not to tire herself out. "You don't have an enemy at Monaco, do you?" She asks, amusement in her eyes as she looks at N'on, still grinning.

« Don't be silly, » Zhelinath answers. Her eyelids droop, her eyes whirling a calm, pleasant green. « We've never been to Monaco. Our enemy is at Xanadu Weyr, obviously. » N'on straight-up glares at Zhelinath this time. She looks back at him placidly, but when he doesn't stop, she sighs, closes her eyes, and proceeds to ignore him.

The humour of the situation seems to fade a little, as Etinei processes that. Now her look at N'on is rather more serious, questioning. Her fingers continue to scratch Zhelinath, but what the green has said - whether it's from N'on or from her - has caught her attention. "You don't mean - the sickness they've been talking about?" Zhelinath's eyes are shut, though she assumes the green is probably still listening, but her question is given direct to N'on.

N'on shakes his head and waves a hand. The glare has faded to a frown that he attempts to banish with a tight smile. He signs something quickly, brows lifted quizzically. Zhelinath sighs dramatically, but translates. « He would like to know if you are hungry. » The switch away from first-person pronouns is rather conspicuous, but the significance is not immediately clear.

Etinei’s puzzlement does not entirely disappear when N'on gives a negative to her question. She doesn't push the topic though, and then there are some quick signs she can't follow. Thank you, Zhelinath! "Oh, yes." Her answer is simple enough, the switch in pronouns noticed, though not commented on. She gives Zhelinath one final scratch before drawing her hands back, tucking them into the pockets of her coat to savour the warmth gained from touching the dragon. "Were you thinking of getting food?" That's for N'on, since Zhelinath seems more sleepy than hungry-looking, in her opinion.

N'on nods a little, and reaches over to give Zhelinath a casual scratch. She croons faintly, and whatever disagreement they'd had seems to be over. The green yawns broadly, showing off rows of sharp teeth, then curls up right there. Since the dragon seems comfortable where she is, N'on gestures toward the training grounds exit with a questioning raised eyebrow.

Etinei gets a quick, intrigued look at those teeth, and her smile softens at the sight of the comfortable, sleepy dragon. She notes N'on's gesture. "Let's see if I can find my way to the living caverns," she says with humour. As it turns out, once they've left the training grounds, her feet do remember the way, a path trodden so many times when she was a resident here. To food, and a pleasant time to be spent with her friend.


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