A Pebble Cast - Shaihulud/Inez

The main, central area of the Weyr, since it's no longer a "bowl" like before, people have taken to calling it the courtyard, or more often, the Weyr Yard. Dragons land and take off here while people walk from building to building going along their daily duties.
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Caryatid
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Sat Jul 07, 2018 9:24 am

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Had someone proposed to Niobe the turn of events which had led her to this moment, she'd have scoffed at the whimsy of it-- she, heir to Nazcalis, boss of the bright bloods, rising mistress of the underground, lounging on the back of a wagon at a lake in a Weyr surrounded on all sides by folk not of Walls or Hold.

It was whimsy enough to make even a tumbler dizzy. An experienced tumbler, even a true Lord of the Acrobats!

It helped ground the imagination (somewhat) that she was not present as Niobe, Heir and Boss. No, for this expedition, Niobe would not do. This little caravan, a string of wagons ringed helm to stern by guardsmen on rugged ponies, was led by a man rumoured to carry messages for the Three. His circuit was timeless and so seemed the man himself, as seamed and creased by the sun as he was tight-lipped and unlikely to speak.

His son, on the other hand, was rather more vocal-- particularly in bed. It wasn't his sheet-yodeling Niobe cared about but what he whispered afterward might be turned to solid information, if she could win his trust. Thus, she'd invented Bey, a scarred guardswoman of sultry smiles and hip-cocked confidence, exactly the sort a cocksure young man might invest trust-- and other things- with.

Bey was still working on the trust but by the time they'd reached the Weyr, it was evident the young man was smitten in other ways. And she... well, she was a little bored. He'd spouted nothing of interest yet and his creativity was limited.

So she'd sent him off on a quest with some invented tale of Atricis' kitchens producing honey-drizzled pastry, the rumours of which had set her toes to curling. She simply must have them. It would win her an hour, maybe two, provided Niobe hadn't suddenly developed the ability to spin lies into reality and Atricis really did produce flaky, honey-drizzled pastry of the sort she'd described to him.

Enjoying this temporary reprieve, she slouched on the lowered tail of a wagon, one foot braced to wood with knee cocked high, the other foot dangling. In her hand, a collection of pebbles. With fluid flicks of wrist, she cast them out over the grass and entertained herself with seeing how many times they might bounce and skip and roll towards the lake they'd camped beside while the old man plied his trade within the Weyr. Her energy was at a lazy ebb-- or so it would seem at a glance.

But black eyes were restless and while her wrist sent rocks clattering down towards the water, her gaze roved over those moving nearby. The dragons proved far less interesting than the occupants here.
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Shaihulud
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Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:07 pm

Be wary of the unseen and the unknown.

Those were the last words uttered to Inez after a maddening sparring session with Mul'rec. The femme brownrider spat vicious words at the man after he hurled her brutally to the ground for the fifth and the last time, yet he stood there, resolute, as she brushed the dirt off her thigh and tunic. After her recovery, he pressed her to continue. She refused.

You must, Inez. You need to learn to defend yourself, the man emphasised the urgency of the situation.

Several pants of recovery answered him before she managed enough breath to vociferate her disbelief and impatience. Why? Cador has already won! We live in the south now where he can't touch us! Nevermind the pungent stench that infiltrated her nares, or the smouldering sensation that swarmed in her lungs.

He stepped back to let her recover to her feet. You can't afford to make that assumption.

Inez did not want to hear it. Deep down, a part of her recognised the truth, but she could not bring herself to accept it. Instead, the femme brownrider limped back to the edge of the circle and snatched a skin from the table to drench her crisp tongue. Even if the water that sluiced between parted lips felt nearly as warm as the summer air that attempted to suffocate her, it still eased her throat and took the sharp edge off her respirations. Once she recuperated, she spoke. I've had enough. Cador is not kill me today, nor will he make the attempt tomorrow. She disregarded his reproving glare. We'll try again in two days, Mul'rec. She made a point to address him by his moniker to remind the man where they stood with one another. Even if he begot her, she did not consider the man her father.

Mul'rec conceded to her wishes, though not willingly as she escorted him back to his dragon. Each look he gave her, Inez felt, though she refused to return the acknowledgement. Silence dominated the conversation as he tacked up his beast. She suspected the man meant to distress her with uncertainty, but she did not succumb to his wordless intimidations. Inez would not yield.

Do not ever think you're safe here, Inez. Even in departure, he refused to yield in turn. Never forget that so long as you breathe, you are a threat to Cador. Even when you're alone, he will be watching.

The pace of her heart quickened at the thought.

Keep your blade close, and remember, beware of the unseen and the unknown. Galuth lunged into the sky, leaving the femme brownrider to watch her father and guard slip into the nothingness of between.

In the hour to follow, Inez did her best to forget about Mul'rec and his paranoia, yet every set of eyes that spared a glance to her raised the finest hairs along her neck. Her own eyes chased after every stranger who passed her, feeding into the tumult of suspicion. The doubt overwhelmed her, souring every bite of food for the brownrider until she abandoned the attempt to satiate her hunger. With only a quarter of her meal gone, and her tea long gone cold, Inez abandoned her meal with the Dining Hall. She retreated back into open Weyr Yard and noted every dragon that fell within her wandering line of sight. The very possibility that each one she saw could be a spy of Cador's caused her heart to drum within her chest.

Iorveth, she reached out to her dragon, desperate for his protective embrace.

When her mind connected with the beast, she felt the warmth upon his back and shoulders, as well as upon the delicate membranes of his wings. He remained calm for all she began to drown in distress; he reached back out to her in an attempt to ease the worries that dominated her mind. All the dragons you see reside here, he assured her. Know I will never let any harm come to you. Even Gwen watches you from above, so you are safe, my sky.

Eyes closed in relief, and slowly her heart settled. I'm becoming as much of a fool as him.

No, the balm of his voice replied. You are right to be cautious.

What do I do?

Perhaps it is time to listen to him. Fromthe vantage of his position, the dragon passed an image to her of the caravan that had just arrived in the Weyr Yard just beyond her. And perhaps, for once, it is time to arm yourself with more than just words.

I... the paranoia prickled along her neck once again. What if...?

Then I will stay by your side. Without request, the brown slide off his perch on the cliffs and dove for the Weyr Yards. He caught himself several dragon lengths above Inez, and back-winged close enough for her to feel the gust from his wings.

As he landed, she reached to Gwen, who was quick to retrieve her purse from her apartment. The amethyst offered the sack to her upon her return. Once plucked from her grasps, the firelizard proudly claimed her mistress' shoulder.

While others might have found it difficult, Inez mounted her massive brown with ease. She thought about the brown, and the protection he had to offer. By size alone, even the bravest of souls might cower, for the brown, who surpassed all but a handful of golds and bronzes, could easily cage a man within his talons. He made her feel safe, fueling her with the courage she needed to overcome her paranoia and seek that which she required. With a skip and a glide, Iorveth carried Inez to the train not far beyond them. The shadow of his wings engulfed the caravan, warning them of his arrival before the ground shook with his landing. The quake startled the draybeasts who did not already low and bellow in fear at the very sight of him so close. Yet where a man might look to Inez, demanding an apology for her dragon's close proximity, Inez gave none. Instead, she slipped from her dragon's shoulders, landing with grace upon the soft summer sward, unwavering in her decision to keep Iorveth close.

To any who might threaten his lifemate, the might brown warbled a warning. The ember of his eyes made a distinct promise rather than a lifeless threat, which was affirmed by the curl of his talons.

Gwen seized Inez's shoulder during the woman's approach to the caravan. All the while, she firelizard eyed each and every one of the traders as Inez passed them.

These men know nothing of weapons, Inez thought in disappointment as she eyed them.

Traders carry many things. Press them.

Iorveth was right, though what Inez sought, she knew not... until she found the woman who sat at the back of the caravan, flicking stones with flippant disregard. She dressed herself with the demeanour of a fighter, boosting Inez's confidence that this woman would know what it was Inez sought. "You," Inez summoned her with a distinct sharpness in her voice. She only managed the tone after turns of instruction under Lord Cador, for though she no longer held the rank of a holder, she still knew how to sound as commanding as one. "What is your name?"
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Caryatid
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Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:32 am

Perhaps, Niobe reasoned with herself as she curled another pebble between thumb and forefinger, rolling it between the pads of each digit as if there were words written upon the surface, when she returned to Walled Hold she might take Locke up on his offer of assistance. Turns of surveillance had availed her nothing. Maybe it was time for something a little more bold-- she did favour boldness. The danger of that being, one misstep and she'd bring her mother's wrath down upon her. Heir or no, one meddled with Nazcalis' plans at great risk.

Would she move against her own daughter? Niobe thought so. Whatever had sealed the old woman's lips was just as likely to seal a death sentence against anyone who succeeded at uncovering what she and the three were up to.

Locke, on the other hand, with his lack of caution and smart mouth, the clever fingers and the quick mind...

Sometimes a cat's paw was just the thing.

Further contemplation was set aside as shadow and a great gust of wind rolled over the cluster of wagons. She locked her hand around the pebble and shaded her eyes beneath her forearm.

A brown. A big brown, landed so aggressively close as to broadcast very many messages, none of them healthy. The cry which followed was overkill, really. But one glance at the woman who dismounted and Niobe knew overkill was the name of the game, like an undercity boss exterminating all threats. She'd seen that sort of gait and set of shoulders before, strolling around in sunlight, secure in the world's placement of them above all others.

The brown lady walked like a dragon chosen-- all pure-spun arrogance and what read, to Niobe's eyes, as contempt for those unsheltered by wings, and teeth, and talons.

Which means, when Inez's probing of the caravan turned up her little nook, she put on her best slanted smile and slipped from the wagon's tail with a cocky bounce, and an obsequious bow. A hint of spine beneath the proper respects was just the thing, to avoid being ground beneath expensive heels. "Bey, your ladyship. Bought to secure the old man and his folk against any threat as beckons for a dance. Including yonder brown fellow. Be a blessing and a kindness, if he didn't drive our beasts to stampede. S'long and longer back to Walled without a draybeast's muscle."
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Shaihulud
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Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:27 pm

"Bey, your ladyship. Bought to secure the old man and his folk against any threat as beckons for a dance. Including yonder brown fellow. Be a blessing and a kindness, if he didn't drive our beasts to stampede. S'long and longer back to Walled without a draybeast's muscle."

Inez did not answer that slanting smile, though her storming orbs made certain to take note of it. Whether it was her uncouth accent or her swaggering demeanour, something about this Bey unsettled Inez. Back in Benden, Inez had seen her type in abundance, holdless brutes who believed the world owed them a healthy measure of respect when they had earned nothing more than a mark. Their goods might be precious, but the sanctuaries erected and maintained by the efforts of the Weyrs and Holds were priceless, and whether a man be hold-bound or holdless, they all relied on shelter when Thread fell.

Yet for all she spoke no apology, Inez knew her manners. Iorveth.

The brownrider abided by the unspoken command, and increased the distance between himself and the industrious herdbeasts, only to bring himself closer to the tail of the train near the lake where the two women stood. The ground reverberated with every step, until he settled once again, three man-lengths from Inez. His human-sized head snaked over his rider, and settled low enough for the tip of his snout to brush against her left shoulder blade.

From her right, Gwen gave a shake of her head and a throaty huff before she resumed her posture of warning with nails prickling into cloth and faintly into flesh. Inez remained unmoved by the sensation she had long accustomed herself to.

Her dragon now resituated in a placement that respected the draybeasts' sensibilities, and tactically favoured Inez's position, brows popped at the woman in amusement. "Better?"
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Caryatid
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Fri Jul 13, 2018 7:56 am

It was definitely a change. Maybe not an improvement, but Niobe could not deny that the situation had certainly changed in response to her request.

She decided Bey would find it terribly amusing so as the brown dropped his head and both ground and air settled after the demand he'd placed on them, she laughed. Easier to be Bey right now. Trail-salted, take nothing seriously Bey. Not dragon-wary, authority-loathing Niobe. Let it be laughter, throaty and rich, and a shift in stance which left her ass perched on wagon's tailgate once more.

"Better for the beasts, surely, and I thank you for that generosity, m'lady. You and the big one both. A good trained dray costs five of me and is probably sweeter company, besides. Can't have 'em breaking their fool necks running off."

Her smile shaded into the bright crescent of a grin as she inclined her head Gwen-wards. "Don't think that one's all so fond of me neither. Three sets of eyes on me, none of 'em friendly. If I were a wiser woman I'd feel a little nervous right about now, 'specially after seeing you come away unhappy from the 'van master's haggling. What can I do for you and this merry band, m'lady?"
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Shaihulud
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Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:32 pm

It seemed Iorveth's resolution amused the woman, earning the brownrider a bark of laughter from the guardswoman, rich and warm to her ears. Yet Inez knew better than to trust her.

"Better for the beasts, surely, and I thank you for that generosity, m'lady. You and the big one both."

Inez gave Bey a nod, though Iorveth acknowledged her with a mere flick of his tail.

Gwen watched the guardwoman in all matter of seriousness. And with a huff of disapproval, she tightened the hold of her coiling tail about Inez's neck. Any tighter, and Inez would succumb to strangulation.

"A good trained dray costs five of me and is probably sweeter company, besides. Can't have 'em breaking their fool necks running off."

"Of course," the brownrider concurred. Though Inez frequently looked down upon those she perceived as beneath her, even she knew to show enough tact, and be reasonable. Traders had their value to the Weyr, no matter how far down the chain they hung, and now she required something of them.

"Don't think that one's all so fond of me neither. Three sets of eyes on me, none of 'em friendly. If I were a wiser woman I'd feel a little nervous right about now, 'specially after seeing you come away unhappy from the 'van master's haggling. What can I do for you and this merry band, m'lady?"

The brownrider offered a melodious chuckle in turn, though she said nothing of Gwen and Iorveth. "I realised my request might require one knowledgeable on the matter, therefore I want to haggle with someone specialised." She offered the woman a telling smirk. No need for the opinion of a self-assured man when two skilled women could accomplish the task with more finesse and less rambling. Men could be far too long-winded at times. After all, according to a man, even a woman who knew how to slice him from loins to larynx needed to be told the rudimentary points of sword fighting. "I seek several blades, masterfully crafted, well balanced, and finely honed. A rapier, an offhand blade, and a dagger, preferably one that can be concealed in a boot." Considering the nature of the woman's work, Inez doubted she needed to elaborate any further. "As a guardswoman who lives by good steel, I assume you are the right person to talk to."
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