It will come easier with time, he replied, amused with her response. Just like his Mine at the very beginning, so uncertain, yet so eager to learn as well. I will be certain to let you know if so, and you have my gratitude. Metanath picked up on her excitement, it filled the air around them; it was as visible to him as daybreak. He wondered, much like he knew his Rider had, why she was not bonded with one of his kin. But that, he knew, was not proper to ask. His Mine might have less tact, but he would refrain from asking. It was none of his business.
He watched her move off in search of oil, and shifted himself where he sat, only then remembering a crucial detail. Be sure to remove this saddle and saddle pad, Metanath reminded her, in the event she would not, though he figured she would already know. He had felt his Mine’s mind and saw she was smarter than most, and had not yet Impressed. She would make a fine Rider, he thought, when the time was right.
Of course. Elora slipped inside and gathered up several bottles of the oil, finally suppressing the smile as she tucked them into her arms. This should be entertaining.
In the corner was a smock lying untouched; she swiped that and tossed it over her shoulder before heading back out.
A moment later she was standing next to the dragon, pulling off her shirt and pulling the smock over her head. Her undershirt clung to her figure as she tied the smock around her, unwilling to ruin a perfectly good shirt at the touch of oil. Do you have a preference as to where I should start?
Metanath began to rock where he sat, his tail swishing on the ground, uncharacteristically happy to get started. He watched her change without much thought, waiting for her to begin. The Black had no opinion on her form, unlike his Mine, who he knew found her pleasing to look at, and would no doubt be distracted yet again. He turned his mind out to find the man in question, and sensed he was on his way back by his thoughts.
Metanath felt her inside his mind once more. He considered her question with care, rolled his shoulders, and extended his wings. After a moment of this, he tucked his wings back in and settled down. I cannot feel much of it yet on my hide, but Mine says it is starting to show.
I do not have any preference, and so shall leave it up to you to decide, as you can see it better than I.
I shall start with your shoulders and work my way down from there. Is that alright?
Start it like a traditional massage; do a general coating and work on the spots that needed more. Dragon hide was malleable enough, and it would be a work out for her as well as a treat for Metanath (or so she presumed), so it would be pleasant enough to everybody.
Thoughts of N'kio had disappeared from her head entirely as she pocketed the bottle of oil, absently swinging herself up onto Metanath's back and propping herself up on a seemingly awkward position. Years of, er, positioning paid off, though, and she managed to keep herself balanced as she began working the oil into the area at the base of his neck. Her hands slipped into a rhythmic motion, following the muscle underneath rather than the pattern of the hide. It didn't matter to Elora; his hide would get oiled either way. Does that feel alright?
That sounds fine. Metanath’s eyes flickered shut as she climbed on him and balanced herself. You are very light, he told her, and readied himself for her to begin. At first, he did not notice she had started, only feeling the soothing effect of the oil on his hide. He shivered once and moved into a more comfortable position, enjoying the feeling of the massage. Your hands are soft…This feels…nice… he replied, voice quiet, not wanting to speak. It felt too nice to interrupt with words. When she had started on his muscles, tense as they were, he jumped a little, and then sank to the ground. A loud purr thrummed in his chest.
N’kio had tuned in to his dragon’s thoughts, glad to see that he was enjoying this. He was no further than six meters away when, all of a sudden, a loud moan slipped out of his mouth. He froze, shocked at what had just happened, and quickly threw a hand over his mouth. Why did I…What just happened? Eyes wide, he glanced around to see if anyone had noticed, and was relieved when he saw no one around. With the exception, of course, of Metanath and Elora, a little ways ahead of him. Tentatively, he reached out to Metanath, who listened, if a bit cranky that he was prompted to speak.
Did…did you hear that?
Naturally. You felt what I did. You have just never been on the receiving end before.
That I cannot say…You should ask her. Come closer.
He did what he was told, a little nervous. He reminded himself to keep his connection with Metanath, at least for now, at a minimum, knowing full well that was impossible.
Elora had slipped into an easy rhythm, working her way slowly down the Black's back and between his wings. (Could wing muscles be massaged? It was a curious question, one she would have to try and figure out either soon or another day.)
She may have been in her own mind, humming quietly under her breath as she worked, noting the hide and how it reacted with the oil and what the sunburned spots look like, but it didn't make her deaf. A smile flashed over her face at the noise a short distance away, and unless somebody else had decided to swing by and just make obnoxious noises, she had a fair idea of who it could be.
But she didn't say anything - oh no, that would ruin some fun that could be had. She might had been done playing that game with him, at least while Metananth provided a much more interesting occupation, but that didn't mean teasing him could be any less fun.
It could also lead into that game starting over again. If the Rider was half as nice as the dragon, she wouldn't mind that, oh no. But if the Rider was half as easy to please, well, it would be quick. And boring.
Would you prefer I keep working down the back or try the wings?
Metanath kneaded the ground as she moved further down his back, and listened, quiet, as she hummed. Whatever is most convenient for you, Elora. I do not mind either choice. He shifted his wings regardless and took in a deep breath. It all feels good to me, he sighed. It is different when -- He heard footsteps approach from the side, and opened an eye to see who it was.
N’kio moved light on his feet, uncertain if Elora had heard him or not, and decided it best not to make a loud entrance. Or rather, another one, if she had. He chose a spot nearby and sat down, crossing his legs, to watch as she tended to Metanath. He had noticed, first and foremost, the position she was working in. Without thinking, he angled his head ever so slightly to watch her better, his eyes following the motions of her hands.
I may not know much, came a content voice, but I do know what you are thinking of.
N’kio arched an eyebrow. Oh? Do enlighten me.
Metanath huffed and kept silent.
He leaned forward and propped his chin in one of his hands. Between her choice of outfit and her position on his dragon, he found himself more than content to just remain silent and watch her. No point in not admiring a thing, he thought, if it is set out to be looked at.
You should say something to her, at least, Metanath said pointedly.
It is polite, and I am certain she knows you are looking.
I do not see the harm in that. However, N’kio knew he was right. She was doing him a favor, after all, and had helped him locate the Weyrwoman. He supposed that put him in her debt, and he wondered if she had considered that as well. “Miss Elora,” he reflected, finding his courtesies. “I do wish to thank you for what you have done for Metanath and I. Your thoughtfulness has not gone unnoticed.” Then, uncertain of what to say next, he returned to watching her once again.
“Have you oiled a dragon before, or is this your first time?” he wondered aloud, genuinely interested.
My thoughtfulness isn't the only thing that's gone unnoticed, thought Elora with a small smile, moving backwards a little to continue her rhythmic motion on the Black's back. She turned her head slightly, looking at N'kio out of the corner of her eye.
She slipped one of the bottles of oil out of her pocket and popped the cap, covering the particularly dry patch of hide she had just revealed on her movement backwards. The Rider's next question made her smile slightly.
"I have not. It's not that different from giving a normal massage, though; it merely takes longer and it's a different muscle system. Though I suppose most dragons don't get massages when they get oiled, do they? They merely get oiled."
She tucked the oil bottle back into the pocket of the smock before leaning forward, working her hands into the hide and muscles of the dragon. "But what's the sense in wasting all this oil if you can't relax at the same time, hmm?"
“I had not thought of that before,” he replied, absently running his fingers over his beard. “And no, they do not. At least, the other Riders I know do not give their dragons massages.” He watched Metanath knead the ground, eyes a lazy swirl, and a small smile crept on his face. “You know a fair deal more about dragons than I ever did when I was just a Candidate,” he commented, and looked back up to Elora. “You will make a fine Rider, when you Impress.”
Her dragon will be very lucky as well, Metanath added. They will get to enjoy this all the time.
Hinting at something, are we?
He lowered his head to the ground. I’m not hinting. I’m telling. Ohh, you should feel this, he purred, toes twitching as if he were asleep and dreaming.
I do not think that is such a good idea…Best leave it all for you.
Metanath grunted. Suit yourself. Hmm. Imagine if she Impressed a Gold. She would be oiling all day. If only I were a Bronze.
You are far better than any stuck-up Bronze.
Oh, I know. But this would last longer, and I do not want it to end. You must do this when we get back.
A blush - the first one to appear on her cheeks in quite some time! - flared up at the mention of her knowledge of dragons.
How - oi. Being myself. Brilliant idea, that. Let's never do that again, shall we? She snapped her eyes away from N'kio and concentrating on the Black's hide. Don't want people to know you're smart and then go massaging dragons. Damn stupid idea.
The blush quickly faded from her cheeks as she tried to focus on another topic, but she knew her silence wouldn't go unnoticed by the red-haired Rider. On the other hand, the only things she could think of to say were defensive statements, which probably would be just as badly.
Metananth? Once I'm done with the back, would you prefer your legs or should I oil up your sides before getting to them?
N’kio waited patiently, uncertain of what her silence meant. More than likely something I had said to her. That's usually the case, right? Maybe it had something to do with her Candidacy, or the likelihood of her Impressing a dragon? It could mean a lot of things, he knew, yet he wasn’t sure if he should ask about this. In his experience, he knew that sometimes asking a woman about a problem she had, especially when she was upset, only made it worse. He did not yet wish to end his conversation with her. “My apologies if…if I made you uncomfortable,” said N'kio, figuring that would cover a wide range of things he had made comments on.
Oh, he thought, still surprised at the choices he had. He could get used to something like this. My legs, he said at last, and turned to look at her. There is a scar on my right flank that has been acting up as of late, but it has not hindered me, so Mine does not know. Would you be able to help?
Elora pressed her lips closely together as N'kio spoke up, trying to figure out how to answer without sounding seemingly ridiculous.
Metanath's comment - and his surprise - made her smile.I can do my best. Elora swung herself around in a circle to get to the edge of his back without falling off. If something hurts, please say so.
She couldn't ignore N'kio forever. (Nor did she want to.) But she did work in silence for a moment, finishing the Black's back before sliding neatly down, landing nimbly on her feet. "It's not that it's uncomfortable. I - that is to say, my interest in things that aren't - I prefer not to be called out on things like that." She glanced over at N'kio, a frown flashing across her face. "It doesn't fit the image I choose to portray."
I am certain you will know if something bothers me, and you have my gratitude, again. He dipped his head in thanks, and lay it against his outstretched forelegs.
Once she had slid off Metanath, N’kio stood up. It would not do to talk to her from the ground. His brow wrinkled as he saw her frown. “What sort of image are you likening yourself to?” He walked closer, until he was at her side. “I do not think you should hide yourself, no matter your…interests.” He refrained from making a suggestive comment, although he had a few at the ready; the time did not seem appropriate, much to his chagrin.
“If this may help, I will not reveal your secrets to any who asks of them,” N’kio added. “I understand the necessity of one's reputation.”
Elora's mind nagged her. Why are you trying to protect the same reputation you left the hold to avoid? She turned away from N'kio, absently wiping her hands on her smock. Why does it matter to you? If he thinks-
Because that had never been what she had been valued by; that's never what other people had valued her by; it had been looked down, frowned upon, discarded. And even if N'kio thought it was okay, it didn't matter. Yes, it does. No, it didn't.
"If I understood what I wanted my reputation to be, it would make more sense," murmured Elora, loud enough for N'kio to hear but quietly enough where she made it clear she didn't want a response, not a real one. She moved over to the leg that Metanath had mentioned, eyes glancing over and analyzing the scar, how to care for it best. Loudly, she said. "And what do you mean, what sort of image am I likening myself to?"
The very idea of not knowing who you were was strange and peculiar to him. He himself had grown up fast, in a place where his life had been mapped out, so his own identity was never unclear to him. That was, of course, until he had met Metanath. Yet she did not have that support system, that other half. She is still rather young, N’kio reminded himself, despite seeing firsthand how mature she acted. He watched her closely now, eyes moving over her face, and he leaned in to listen her speak. Her words were bitter, even though her voice was soft. He couldn’t help but feel like she had withdrawn a bit.
Is that concern I hear? suggested Metanath slyly.
And is there anything the matter with that? he countered.
Not at all, Metanath replied. I was just not aware you noticed anything other than her body.
N’kio rolled his eyes good-naturedly and returned his attention to Elora. He had not meant to upset her, but still she seemed it. She spoke again, this time louder, and he stepped back to give her room to maneuver around Metanath. She was indeed a mystery, that much was certain. “I was asking you who or what is it you’re trying to be,” he answered, as if it were completely obvious. N’kio scratched at the back of his neck. “If you don’t mind my saying so, I see you as a very intelligent, fiery young woman who,” and at this he grinned, “is very comfortable with her physicality. Is that not enough to be?”
After he had spoken, he turned away from her and faced Metanath’s side. He ran his fingers over the Black’s hide, still slick with oil, but a bit cooler, he noticed, to the touch. He smiled. “And you are quite good at this,” he added, looking over his dragon with careful eyes.
She knows what she is doing. I still think you should feel it as I do.
Ah, and make a fool out of myself? I’m quite alright, thanks.