Who: Jet, M’tan, Safiye, Khyrisan, Kyramith, Sirhyth
Where: Hideaway Home, High Reaches/Court of Shadows, Honshu Territory
What: Time’s up.
It’s true that they don’t have long once the raid on Kadross has been completed and Safiye removed from the Hold, so little time in-fact that it’s not worth risking returning to Xanadu at all. Their old home has been cleared out, right down to the lights mapped out across their bedroom ceiling, the holes that marked where they once were covered over with a layer of fresh plaster. No clues left behind. Little sign that they were ever there at all. Everything that dragons and riders own has been stashed in the cavern next to their home in the ‘Reaches, stacked and set up ready to go once the business of burying the proceeds of the raid is complete. Jet has to leave M’tan to that, keeping Safiye inside that cavern and trying to explain to her all that’s happening while also dealing with a crying Khyrisan, who cannot help but pick up on her stress. They wait, the hand that doesn’t cradle the baby to her occupied by her sword, just in-case someone else should find them, and in-front of her and the cavern sits Kyramith, her eyes whirling orange.
M’tan and Sirhyth only seem to be absent from their family’s side for a heartbeat – no more than a half-hour at best and no real way of executing that outside of timing it. Sirhyth and M’tan have been practicing since the plot was first devised, taking snippets of time here and there to accomplish the tasks before them. When M’tan appears in the cavern, he looks worn but otherwise unhurt and very much //alive//. Sirhyth’s rumble echos in the chamber as he eases himself closer to Kyramith, his own eyes hosting echos of orange in them. << We are ready >> his voice is laced with hidden metal in the mist, the quality of his mental shadows hardening into weapons that mirror the ones Jet always carry. M’tan quickly closes the distance between himself and his mate, hugging her close against him and taking Khyrisan from her to soothe. “It’s all settled,” he tells her, looking more wild-eyed from the rush of adrenaline than he normally is, the crookedness of his smile wreckless in the night’s shadows.
From behind one of the boxes, Safiye peeks out at M’tan, gaze darting from him, to her mother and back again before she shuffles out, her blue firelizard draped around her shoulders. She might only be six, but she clearly enunciates, “I’ll take him,” with a nod towards her brother, as if she’s as grown-up as the rest of them. “I can’t lift things and you can’t lift things if you have to hold him.” Jet touches a kiss to M’tan’s cheek and turns to look back at her, admitting, “She has a point,” deliberately loudly enough for her to hear. “If you sit down, he can rest in your lap for a while,” she tells her, already turning to haul a box into her arms. “We’ll get this done quickly.” Kyramith settles herself lower to the ground to make it easier to access her straps, her mind an unnatural crystalline storm of anxiety as she forewarns Sirhyth that, << She wants you to take the children with you. If she panics, you will still all be safe. >> If she still can’t manage three moments of a jump sometimes, how is she to manage guaranteeing the time it takes to travel years?
M’tan looks skeptically from Khyrisan who has stopped squalling to the diminutive figure of his older sister. He gives one look to Jet with brows lifted in an ‘are you sure’ gesture before he walks towards the boxes and Safiye. He waits until the child is settled on the ground before he hands his son over, shucking off his jacket shortly thereafter to use it to tuck around the baby and help Safiye hold him more securely. He gets right to work with the boxes, moving to heave one or two at a time to the awaiting dragon’s and their straps. Sirhyth is patient throughout the whole process while M’tan’s group of firelizards dart in and out of the cavern system as they patrol the area. << We will take them with us >> he confers with Kyramith, << Should we also take her? M’tan asks. I know you are capable. >> The bronze huffs a breath and moves to touch his nose against Kyramith’s shoulder in apology for asking.
<< No. >> It’s a swift, flat response, not born of affront or offense, but a rare confession of that which Kyramith has only acknowledged a handful of times in her lifetime to anyone but her rider. << She is mine. If we are to go, we go together. >> There’s a heaviness there; an understanding of a more final //go// than a journey, death stared in the face unflinchingly. << She needs to know you are all safe. It will make it easier to focus. >> And combat that fear of oppressive cold and dark. She tucks her nose beneath Sirhyth’s chin and closes her eyes, letting Jet get on with the business of straps and loading without interference, save for acquiescing to requests. For so much, it doesn’t take long, or maybe it only seems that way with adrenaline coursing through veins, canines settled in fleece-lined containers and firelizards held to straps through the compulsion of dragons, leaving Jet to finally bundle up Safiye too and help her up onto Sirhyth without remarking upon //why//, Khyrisan held tight to her for moments more before she holds him out to M’tan with nothing more than a strangled, “Please.”
M’tan intercepts Khyrisan from Jet and gathers his mate close in his arms, lips pressed to her hairline as he inhales the scent of her and his son combined. One beat, two beats, three beats and he pulls himself away. He tucks their young son into the carrier on his chest, securing him and then tucking the larger flight jacket around them both. He pulls on a warm cap over the infant. “I’ll see you on the other side,” he promises Jet, making her look at him before he releases her to Kyramith. It’s with the confident stretch of years of practice that he makes his way up Sirhyth’s arm to the top of the bronze’s neck. He settles himself behind Safiye, tucking a firm arm around her middle once he’s settled straps around them all. “I need your help. I’ve got Sister in the pack at your feet. You have to talk to her the whole time. It helps keep her feeling safe.” Whether or not Safiye will follow through on that, he has to believe it might settle the nerves of a young girl to encourage the little canine to be brave. He presses his lips to the top of Khyrisan’s bundled head and looks ahead as he settles his goggles down over his face. Sirhyth gathers himself, heaving himself up and making the slow and steady walk to the cliff face. Wind whips around him as he lifts his wings up and turns his head to await his mate. He allows one passing rub to green hide, muzzle to neck, before he faces the drop before them. << To whatever awaits us on the other side, my love >> he promises Kyramith with the echoes of M’tan’s words laced in his tones. He tilts himself down the cliff and plummets before he banks a hard left and takes them Between.
Jet’s fingers clutch at the tail of M’tan’s jacket for a moment before she can make herself let go and give a single nod, her features bleached of colour and eyes glimmering with the threat of tears that make it unsafe for her to speak. She watches them move off and get settled atop Sirhyth, watches him lift his wings and bid farewell to Kyramith, her green’s dry, << Don’t go intimidating anyone without me, >> an echo she only half hears. As the pair of them watch Sirhyth vanish, she can’t help but clutch a hand to her chest, pawing at her jacket to try and exert power over her body and tell it to breathe when it doesn’t want to. Moments pass – a full minute, perhaps – while Kyramith hides her beneath her wing and she stops grabbing at leather and falls to twisting the rings on her finger that mark her as wife and mate. << I cannot hear them, >> is a hushed whisper and finally spurs Jet into action, for what do they possibly have to lose now? Once straps are dealt with, Kyramith doesn’t wait any longer, but dives straight over the cliff’s edge, falling fast and making the jump before Jet can waver or lose focus. Who knows how long it takes? But they live. They must both live, even if Jet is slumped forward across Kyramith’s neck by the time they burst from one world and into another.
Sirhyth’s been waiting in the air for Kyramith’s appearance and he is quick to bank hard and flap his sturdy wings to close the distance between them. His thoughts are a blanket of shadow and cool evening air, relief for their success layering his mind and making words impossible to form. He keeps his wing brushing against hers as he takes them towards a distant hill – really, a very small island – on the lake below them. He lands abruptly on the rockstrewn shoreline and bumps himself close enough to Kyramith that M’tan can safely maneuver himself from one dragon to the next. He’s crouched next to Jet, hand pressing against her face as he tries to assert her state. “We made it,” he keeps repeating, Khrysian still silent and blinking quietly against his chest as Safiye stays atop Sirhyth’s neck. “Jet. We made it. It’s done. We made it. We’re safe. We’re finally //free//,” he shakes her shoulder for emphasis.
Jet remains immobile as dragons wing down to the ground, Kyramith still in reasonably good colour and flying strongly alongside Sirhyth, no outward sign of any trouble visible. It’s what she’s done inadvertently, retreating to instinctive tactics to try and conceal her fear, that is most telling, a harsh wall of otherworldly ice keeping all out without any conscious awareness of it. Only when M’tan clambers over onto her does yellow begin to whirl through her gaze, though not even a flicker of how she feels gets past that wall, just as the rest of her joins her mind and she goes deathly still. For moments after he speaks, there’s still nothing from Jet, who plainly still breathes, but has gone from pale to grey, yet as she takes a deeper breath some colour begins to seep back into her cheeks and she lifts her head, blinking blearily about her. “…You’re alive,” she rasps, peering up at M’tan and Khyrisan and then to Sirhyth and Safiye. “We’re alive. We’re free.” She slumps back against Kyramith’s neck once more, perhaps about to pass out again from sheer relief. “…I need a nap. Are we too old for naps?” It must be hysteria.
“We can nap soon,” M’tan promises, resting a hand on her shoulder before he presses his other hand to the back of Khyrisan’s head. “First let’s settle the children.” He waits until Jet is stable enough to either dismount with him or on her own before he goes and crosses back to Sirhyth’s neck to unbuckle Safiye and help her to the ground. Once everyone is on the ground, M’tan looks up the rocky shore towards the rock and wood structure that’s resting up a short path. He takes Jet’s hand, looking exhausted, but content. “Shall we see how this home has held up to the test of time?” His firelizard’s swirl around them, chattering excitedly as they zip about the unfamiliar place to explore. Sister and her trio of offspring have already taken off into the brush to sniff and explore what their noses find.
Only when Jet nods a time or two and finally begins to lift sluggish hands to deal with her straps does that wall of ice that Kyramith has flung up in self-defence begin to melt, so that by the time the greenrider has managed to slowly ease her way down to the ground, there’s nothing more than a cool breeze in its place, her head abruptly lodged beneath Sirhyth’s chin again. Wordlessly, Jet reaches for Safiye’s hand as M’tan takes one of hers, the girl possessed by a wide-eyed silence brought on by her world being all but literally turned upside down in a matter of hours. Blaze, Inferno and Night head straight for the main building to scout it out, while Prism and Kaleidoscope linger with Safiye’s blue. Briefly, Jet frees her hand from her daughter’s to run it over her head and murmur, “It’s okay. You’ll be safe here. You can be whoever you want to be.” Then, reclaiming her hand, she moves off at M’tan’s side. “I siphoned off enough materials from fake orders to the Hall that that we should have enough raw jewels to trade if we need anything very immediately.”
The sound of the lake’s waves moving around the base of the island is a curiosity to Sirhyth as he leans over the path’s edge to consider the small drop below them. M’tan keeps hold of Jet’s hand as he walks up the path towards the manor house, it’s exterior in need of attention as paint and wood is aged and crumbling. He’s quiet as they move, anticipating any potential risk as they make their way to the large porch out front of the main doors. There are no keys that he’s brought with him but the ancient looking locks on the door hint that they may exist. He grabs hold of the doorknob, looks to Jet, and pushes it open. Inside they are met with the trickle of sunlight through window panes and coating of dust. There’s that eerie silence of an old, unused space, but the interior is in far superior shape than the exterior. Sheets are tossed over furniture in an attempt to preserve against the dust that coats the entire place. “Home,” he murmurs, looking to his family. “It’ll need work,” he says, “but it should all be worth it now.”
Jet lifts up on her toes a little to press a kiss to M’tan’s cheek, then to the top of Khyrisan’s head, drawing Safiye closer to her to let her peek through the door and to what lies beyond it. “Home,” she sighs out with a weary contentment. “Let’s focus on getting one room liveable? We can all sleep in the same room for a couple of nights, I’m sure.” Maybe the words are for Safiye more than anyone else. “Looks like there’s a decent outbuilding for Kyramith and Sirhyth. If we get things comfortable enough for us all to rest… we can face and explore the world in the morning.” She slides an arm around her mate’s waist and rests her head against his shoulder for a moment, then pushes forward into the Hold with a sense of purpose before her body can betray her again and demand rest. << Thank you for being brave for us, >> Kyramith shares ever so quietly with Sirhyth and M’tan both, slipping the words beneath the facade of determined confidence that Jet presents for the benefit of the children.
M’tan follows after Jet, pausing momentarily to pull Khyrisan from his carrier to pass back to his mother’s arms. He’ll be the one to leave unpack and settle their dragons, encouraging Jet that their children require her focus more than his own. Sirhyth’s thoughts are laced with contentment and colors of warmth ease their way into the darkness of his shadows. << You have been brave for us many times before. And someday we will need you to be brave for us again. This time we carried the load. It is good. It is family. >> He can’t quite figure out //what// M’tan’s thoughts on everything are as he tries to impart the various sense to Kyramith. Night comes all to quickly and a bed and blankets brought forward in time are used to curl into. M’tan will sleep with his arms around Jet, Khyrsian tucked carefully in his mother’s arms, with Safiye not too far from the warmth and comfort offered by the adults. That the room is protected by a large number of firelizards and three dogs eases everyone’s minds as they fall into exhausted sleep. Sirhyth remains curled around Kyramith, braving the elements so that they can keep watch through the night. << Home >> his mind touches against her coolness.