On His Own

Who: Echo, Emily, Melody, Kahotaith, Hanath, Veruth
When: Month 9, 208 AT
Where: Southern Boll
What: In the absence of his rider, Veruth latches onto Melody.

Since the Gather dissolved into chaos, Echo has refused to let Melody let go of her hand, and has kept her firmly at her side while Kahotaith’s inability to counter a queen’s commands keeps him and them in the midst of it whether they like it or not. She’s tried to put her time to good use, locating any Southern riders and residents and sending them all to one specific area so that they can be easily found and protected by their dragons, but after an hour or more of this, Melody’s patience wears thin and it becomes her turn to pull her mother about instead, drawing her through the thinning crowd and along her own path, as if tugged by a thread that only she can feel. “Someone needs to keep him company. He’s here all on his own.”

Emily has been in the thick of the chaos once she realized that it was Isolwyn that was injured. She’s stayed away from the investigation, instead doing as Echo has done, and gotten Fort’s dragons and riders accounted for and gathered in the field away from the Gather’s main chaos points. She’s also stepped up and taken over more than a few of Telgar’s people as well. It’s only when Eosyth finally sleeps that Hanath steps in, still holding dragons in place until it is deemed acceptable that they leave. With Hanath keeping watch, Emily finally takes herself to go and find Echo. << Kahotaith >> Hanath calls wearily, << Help me direct Emily to them --, wait; who is talking to Melody? >> As if on cue, an extremely small bronze materializes out of the long grasses and makes his way towards Melody. Veruth’s mind mirrors that of his blue sire in it’s complex mechanics and whirring noises. << You found me >> he is clearly impressed by the young girl, << I thought perhaps no one would feel me calling. He certainly never paid heed to it. >>

<< I am unaware at present… >> Kahotaith doesn’t sound particularly pleased by this, but he keeps his rider and Melody firmly in his sights, following at a distance behind, until he can share the image of the small bronze with Hanath, tainted only by his own disquiet. << He appears to be without a rider. >> Protectively, and a little more than possessively, he stops practically on top of Echo and Melody, curling his tail to loop before the little girl’s feet, even as she reaches up both hands towards Veruth. She takes in a breath and Echo’s hand tightens on hers. << Where’syourrider? >> Melody asks, concentrating and still not quite able to keep the words from smudging together. << I’mMELODY! >> Both she and Kahotaith cringe away from her inadvertent shouting. “…Sorry,” she says aloud. “What’s your name?” Though rather obviously unsettled, Echo doesn’t interrupt, giving her the space to as it seems she must and taking the opportunity to watch and learn exactly what it is her daughter is doing.

<< Without a rider? Well, is his rider here at the Gather still? Maybe he is lost >> Hanath answers without much concern, gathering what she can from Kahotaith to direct Emily towards the group. While Emily is walking their way, Veruth seems entirely pleased by Melody and unbothered by her shouting. << You will get control of your thought-speaking sometime soon. You'll see. You are very loud. I rather like that >> he admits with a rumble as he looks up at Kahotaith for a moment, his mind-voice polite but clearly he is more interested in the child, << I will not harm her >> he shares and then angling his head back towards Melody he adds, << I am Veruth >>

<< To upset her is to forfeit speaking with her, >> Kahotaith warns Veruth all the same, keeping the band of his thoughts open enough to include Hanath in what he shares with the smaller male. Echo swallows hard and looks between Melody and Veruth, before she asks, quite as if she isn’t sure that she wants the answer, “Melody… Can you hear the others too? More than Kahotaith and Hanath. And… Veruth.” The girl tilts her head and peers up at her mother, giving a shrug. “They’re louder now. Kahotaith’s always talked to me. And it’s weird my friends live with dragons who don’t talk to them when I hear them just fine.” She turns her attention back to Veruth. << D’you need anything? >>

Hanath adds the weight of her color behind Kahotaith’s words as she agrees with him and tells Veruth, << You are not allowed to harm her or hurt her in any way. Not with your words or your actions. Clear? >> Emily finally comes upon the scene and pauses, taking in the sight of Kahotaith towering over Melody and Echo, with Veruth near enough to be touched should Melody decide to. She crosses all the way and asks Echo, “Who is he?” she looks to Veruth and the bronze barely acknowledges the new comer. He has the whir of his gears whistling along Melody’s mind, << They came and took Akio. So, I am stuck here at this Hold until the golds let me fly. Even then, I do not think I will follow him where he went. I wonder, sweet girl, if you know what I should do? >>

The stress of the day and Melody’s matter of fact revelation has paled Echo’s complexion to something on the uneasy side of unhealthy, but she takes a breath and declares, “Kahotaith says his name is Veruth. And Melody says she hears him. Not just him. All of them.” It’s innocently done when Melody waves to Emily, then points at her and tells Veruth, “That’s my Mama. Her name’s Emily. And this is my Mum.” She pats at Echo before stepping forward to press her hands gently to the little bronze’s muzzle. << You could come home with us, >> she suggests to him. << I don’t know who we have to ask. I’ve never seen a dragon without a rider before. Don’t you like him? >>

“So we were right?” Emily wonders aloud as she moves around Kahotaith to stand closer to Echo. She notes the paleness of her features and reaches her arm around Echo’s waist to hug her one-sidedly. Veruth croons at Melody’s touch and lowers himself to the ground in a sphinx-like way so it is easier and more comfortable for him to angle his head so she may scratch along his eyeridges. << We had a home >> he shares a fragment of a thought of a crooked-looking rock formation with a large house on top, << but with what he has done I do not think we are welcome back. >> He sighs and then shuffles his wings like a shrug. << There is not much to like about him. He is a disappointing creature. >>

“Looks like it,” Echo murmurs, resting her head against Emily’s shoulder. Melody steps further toward to oblige Veruth, which earns her a low rumble of warning from Kahotaith, who only expands the loop of his tail to still keep her firmly within his circle of protection. << I didn’t know dragonscouldhatetheirriders. >> The child’s assumptions rush together in a hushed, almost embarrassed, fashion, as if expecting to be swiftly corrected. << I don’t know what to do. >> She looks up and back at Emily and Echo, admitting it aloud, even though it clearly pains her to do so. “I don’t know what to do. We can’t leave him here. If no-one else is listening to him, we can’t leave him all alone. Can’t he come with us?”

“Where’s his rider, Melody?” Emily asks neutrally, trying to hide her growing concern for the situation. “We can find him for Veruth and then he’ll be settled again.” She looks up at Kahotaith and then towards Echo, waiting for them to speak. Veruth can’t get physically closer to Melody without pushing Kahotaith’s tail out of the way so he lowers his head into his paws. << I do not know what is normal or not. All I know is that my rider and I have great distance between our minds. I do not mind that though. He is the one that is missing out. Chasing ambition. >> He’s young enough himself that Veruth must not realize a child may not understand anything he is saying. << I do not think your mothers' will let me join you >> he adds, quietly, making sure to leave that bit to Melody alone.

“He… isn’t here…” is all the answer Melody has, given haltingly as she glances from Veruth to her parents and back again once more. “I don’t think Veruth minds, but we still can’t leave him here…” She keeps her hands running gently over bronze hide. “Please can’t he stay with us tonight? Or can’t we find him somewhere to stay?” Kahotaith’s claws dig into the earth beneath him when she presses her face against Veruth’s own. << I don’t want to leave you all alone, >> must have been meant only for the bronze, but the feeling behind it has her broadcasting it beyond him. Echo takes a deep breath and supposes, “…He could stay at Southern overnight, but I don’t know what to do after that. Maybe his rider will give him an image to go and find him in that time.”

“That his rider hasn’t done so yet is rather concerning,” Emily murmurs, speaking soft enough she hopes Melody does not over here. “If his rider is in danger and does not live…,” she doesn’t want to finish the statement as she sighs. Hanath reaches towards Veruth with a curious tickle, her kindness a source of drawing more information from him. Emily looks to Melody and then Echo with clear concern, “Hanath wonders if the bronze and his rider have something broken between them. Another bronze and green came and took his rider. I wonder,” she looks growingly horrified, “if the rider is involved with Isolwyn’s attack?” She hugs Echo tighter to her and looks at Melody. “Veruth can stay with you and your mum at Southern. Hanath and I will come and stay as well. To keep an eye on him and ‘listen’ if he ends up needing our help.” Hanath draws herself towards Kahotaith’s mind as she flies overhead to land beside him. << I will keep him from going Between. I do not want him to accidentally take Melody with him. >>

<< Idon’tlikeyourrider, >> Melody tells Veruth, doing her best to keep quiet at the cost of her words blurring together again. << Kahotaith would never do something like this to us. >> She smoothes her hands along his jaw a final time and steps back, bumping into her mother’s lifemate as she does so. “I’ll look after him while he’s with us. He’ll need a bath and oiling and I know how to do those things. And then his rider will find him and I’ll yell at him.” That, it appears, is Melody’s plan, stated without much grasp of the broader facts and implications. “Oh,” she turns back to tell him. “You have to be careful with Mum. She’s going to give me a brother or sister.” It’s with an uncharacteristic savagery that Kahotaith tells Hanath, << If he even considers harming her, end him. >>

Veruth’s delight is shared in a clear croon directed to Melody. << You and me will get along fine. I am used to being alone a lot. You do not need to worry too much about me. It might be nice to be oiled though. My hide is rather itchy these days. >> He lifts his head up to peer down his backside, clearly looking over his dusty state. << I wish he had cleaned me up to visit this Gather. Perhaps I would have made a better appearance for my size then. >> He huffs and looks at Kahotaith and then on to Hanath, his youthful innocence almost a direct reflection of Melody’s, << I will be respectful of your charge. I will let no harm come to her. I promise. >> Emily breaks from Echo to fold her arms in front of her and look at Melody with a lifted brow, “You needn’t tell //everyone// about your pending sibling, you know,” she teases with a light smile. She looks to Hanath and Kahotaith then to Echo. “I can probably stay for the night and one more day. Then we’ll have to go back to Telgar. We can talk to your Weyrleaders’ about keeping an eye on Veruth, or perhaps we’ll move to Telgar where I can keep them under Hanath’s watch.”

“I can’t show them off yet, so I have to //tell// everyone, don’t I?” Melody’s argument is accompanied by a bright smile, before she flings herself at Emily and wraps her arms around her tightly. “But right now I get to show off my Mama, anyhow.” She lifts her gaze to Echo, asking, “Can we go home? Veruth says he’s itchy.” That draws Echo’s attention back to the youngest dragon present, the anger that flickers through her gaze not meant for him. “I’m sorry your rider treats you this way,” she tells him. “It isn’t right. It wouldn’t be tolerated at a Weyr and I won’t tolerate it while you’re at Southern. We’ll get you cleaned up.” She leans in to press a kiss to Emily’s cheek. “Go and do what you have to do. I’ll blend him into the Southern crowd somehow until we’re all allowed to leave.” Eyeing Melody, she proposes, “We might have to have you distract some dragons. But never again. Got it?” Whether her daughter truly understands, she nods readily enough. << We have to do as Mum says for now, >> she shares with Veruth.

Emily’s laughter is bright and quick, despite the outcome of the Gather as she hugs Melody to her. “Alright, you listen to your mum now and be good to Veruth. He’s needed that for some time.” She kisses the top of Melody’s head before the girl departs to her new charge and then she turns to hug Echo and smiles at the kiss. “I’ll go and check on C’aol and make sure he has everything he needs to keep watch over Isolwyn. I’ll get permission for us to lift the request to ground all dragons.” She disappears then, leaving Hanath and Kahotaith to watch Veruth continue to charm Melody. << I'll listen to your Mum then >> he promises the young girl. It is only about an hour that they are all required to linger at the Gather grounds before Hanath’s power slowly eases off the minds of dragons in attendance. They all begin to launch into the air and depart, leaving Emily and Hanath one of the last to leave and head towards Southern to see about settling Veruth for one night – and what the rest of the days will hold, will have to be taken as they come.

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