He beamed at her. “Oh, I certainly do. You seem to know your way around the Weyr, and you’re not boring, which is definitely a plus. There are only so many conversations you can have about fish, believe me – I know. Anyway, take your time, there is no rush here. The sun is still low, last I checked.”
N’kio straightened up where he stood and began to re-examine the scratch on his arm. “Aye, and a certain dragon as well. Determined, lazy…either would suffice for now. Rest assured, I will be working well into the night, so I won't be lazy for the entire day. If you were wondering. So, time away does me some good." He glanced briefly up at her. "Keeps me on my toes.”
Elora laughed, twisting her head to the side and looking for the dustpan. One hand held the broom steady as the other reached up and pulled the rest of her hair out of it's bun, letting it cascade down her back. "And I'd rather work during the day and have the nights to myself. No offense to your schedule, of course, but I'm more of a night owl."
Ah. There it was. She swung the broom up, keeping it off the ground and away from the piles to shimmy over to the other side of the room, snagging the dustpan. Whirling around, she knelt and began sweeping it up. "The fact that I'm even up this early in the morning is surprising. But alas, chores."
“You’re doing a great job of that so far,” he said with a smile. Pausing in the examination of what he hoped would be a nice scar, N’kio tilted his head and watched her as she fixed her hair and spun around the room as she cleaned. She certainly had her own way of doing things.
“Oh, none taken, though I’d imagine a young dragon would change that preference rather quick. I would be more of a night bird, too, had I the luxury and not the obligations. But after so many years, you get used to schedules and waking before the sun. And if it’s not Metanath bothering me in the morning, it’s Aeolus, so I just learn to get up before they appear.” He inhaled and sighed deeply. “Not that I get much sleep anyway, but,” he shrugged, “Can’t change that.”
"I'll just have to find a dragon that likes nights better than days." Elora tilted her head, searching for the garbage can. Successfully locating it in the corner of the room, she shimmied over and dropped the dirt into it. "That'd probably be the only way we get along!"
Though, to be fair, the things she liked best about nights wouldn't be applicable once she was a Rider, for the most part. (If you're a Rider, her nagging little doubting voice whispered. She ignored it.) So maybe a day-dragon would be better and help her move past that transition.
Of course, that meant she'd have to enjoy nights more while she had them, right? "I suppose if you have no idea where you're going, I should at least make sure you don't wander into some poor Rider's chambers, shouldn't I?"
“I would avoid a Black then, if I were you…” He found his thoughts momentarily de-railed as Elora moved her way around the kitchen. “Entirely unpleasant and rather dull, too. Never does anything fun, even if they do like the night.”
Oh, I didn’t realize we were talking about you, Metanath chimed in. Want me to continue that list?
N’kio decided to ignore his remark, moving on in the conversation. Walking into a Rider’s chambers?
My, that sounds familiar…
He looked to Elora. “I should hope you would keep me from doing that. I would hate to walk in on something I shouldn't see. No, that would not do at all.” He bit his lip to keep from smiling at the memories.
Now, was that Ista or Telgar for you? I forget.
He chuckled to himself. Telgar.
Most annoying business, that.
N’kio rolled his eyes. You should try it sometime. He took a few steps back and leaned against the frame of the door, ready to get back outside. “However, I have complete faith in you and your sense of directions,” he smiled at Elora. “So I think you could keep me out of trouble.”
Elora didn't see his smile; she was busy doing a last sweep - figuratively, not literally - of the room around her. She supposed it would do. The Candidate Master couldn't yell at her too badly. She had, after all, been called away by a Rider, and she was supposed to respect Riders, right?
A lip twitched upwards towards her eyes. Respect N'kio? She did on the same level she respected everybody else, no more, no less.
Perhaps a little less, actually. He was a bit goofy.
"I shall do my best." She twirled back towards him, eyes sparkling. "Lead the way. I'll just correct your inevitable mistakes."
“Lead the way? Oh, Elora. If you wanted to get a look at me, all you had to do was ask,” he smiled. “No need to pretend to follow me for the sake of correcting me.” He arched an eyebrow, then turned on his heels and walked out of the kitchen and into the Weyr Bowl.
Once outside, he paused in a wide-legged stance, as if to keep his balance, and looked around at his options. Normally, he would ask the other Riders, or Metanath their dragons, on the whereabouts of who they were looking for. And now that he had to find something that was not the Weyrwoman or Weyrleader, he was not entirely sure where to begin.
N’kio crossed his arms, smile gone as he attempted to be a bit more serious. “Which ones are reserved for weyrs, Elora?” he asked over his shoulder, eyes moving across the way. “If I can narrow it down, that would be a help. Or else, I don’t know, I’ll just start walking. Might help if you walked beside me, though,” he said. “I would hate to lose you.”
Elora rolled his eyes at the sassiness and self-assuredness of his comment, following him out of the kitchen and into the Weyr bowl. His overdramatic wide-legged stance didn't elicit any response from her other than another eyeroll and a small smirk.
I would hate to lose you. The comment echoed in her ears, and she snorted and laughed, even as the back of her brain tried to process exactly what that meant.
When did men start becoming so complicated?
"That one there, and that one, lead into the Weyrs. You know, I don't even know if we have a leather-worker." She shashayed up to him, nudging his folded arms. "Shouldn't you know?"
He looked down at her and smiled, nudging her back. “Me? And how about you? Remember, you’re the one who lives here, not me. You must know about someone.” He sighed and looked around at his other options. “I’d really rather not go to Golden Flight, or Stormy Plains, for that matter,” N’kio grumbled, allowing himself to sulk for a moment. He nudged her again.
“We…just have to find someone who does work with it. Or someone who knows someone, either way works.” Left. He decided he would just start going left and avoid the weyrs. “I’ll be needing you as well, Elora, so no running off after we find a leather-worker. If, however,” he added, “we do happen to find one, and I haven’t kept you for too long.” N’kio nodded to himself and uncrossed his arms. That would work, I think.
Looking over at Elora, he motioned to her with a hand. “Come along, I’m going left. Keep me from going astray!” And without another word, he strolled away as if he knew exactly where he was headed.
"I tend to avoid people and people tend to avoid me. That's the way the world works." Elora crossed her arms as he nudged her a second time, a small smile on her face. "And what's so bad about Golden Flight or Stormy Plains, hmmm?"
What could you be needing me for? His words echoed in her ears as she trotted off after him, the smile on her face growing larger. "You're gonna get lost. I sense it now."
“I’m going to get lost, am I? You can sense it?” N’kio replied, amused. “That’s quite a talent.” He continued to walk in his chosen direction as if he belonged in that Weyr, as if he knew where everything was, despite the fact that he had absolutely no clue where he was going.
“To answer your question, there is nothing wrong with them. Both Stormy Plains and Golden Flight sell goods of fair quality. Yet when it comes to hides in general, their products are, oh…about average, for use in a Hold. However, there is a big difference when it comes to ordinary hides and those used to make riding straps. Leather from those Holds tends to be thinner and more flexible -- both of which are qualities I cannot afford to entertain. They are ill-suited to handle rough treatment, as opposed to leather that can be found in a Weyr. Hence, why I would prefer not going to either of those places, if I can help it.”
“Is there a difference,” he asked suddenly, looking over at Elora, “between sensing and knowing? Seems to me I know exactly where I’m going.” The beginnings of a mischievous smile curled his lips. “Yet, if you sense that I’m going to get lost walking this way,” he stated, and nonchalantly held out his hand, “then you might as well lead me in a direction you consider better. Otherwise I'll just keep walking...”
"You presume I know where I'm going. I don't know where the leather-workers are!" Elora raised an eyebrow at him, stepping up next to him. Instead of touching the hand he reached out, she casually reached forward and linked arms with him, using her free hand to push his arm up.
She could pretend to be a lady for a few minutes.
"But please, do lead the way. I'm sure I can steer you away from most trouble. Some trouble, well-" she smiled, and this time it lit up her eyes. "Trouble can always be fun."
Her keen remark had him chuckling. “That makes two of us. Where do you think we would find one in the Weyr at this time of morning?”
When Elora moved closer, he blinked in surprise. He hadn’t expected her to actually take him up on his offer. His smile turned genuine, and not so mischievous, when she linked arms with him as casually as he had offered his hand. And at her prompting, he continued to walk – a bit slower, and now in the opposite direction – and kept close to her side as he did. “Yes, well, feel free to take charge if you see fit,” he replied, attempting to observe their surroundings for any signs they were headed the right way.
But the delight in her voice, as well as the smile on her face, proved to be an equal distraction, and he laughed quietly at the comment. “Oh, trouble is always fun. Always. Getting caught, however…that just depends on how worth it the trouble was in the first place,” N’kio beamed. “Though I suppose I shouldn’t say that. I need to be setting some sort of example for you. Being older…and all that.” He didn't sound too convinced.
And as he walked, he fought against the urge to slide his hand down to hers. That would seem a bit more natural, wouldn’t it? he reasoned with himself. But that seems like more trouble than we could afford. The implications. Still…this is nice.
I don't know whether you're smart or foolhardy, thinking like that, Metanath chimed in his head.
N’kio put the thought out of mind and glanced over to Elora. “Hmmm. Now that you mention it, however,” he smiled, “What sort of fun trouble did you have in mind? I can hardly believe you get into trouble, a smart girl such as yourself.”
N'kio's clear delight in her taking his arm just confused Elora. Physicality meant nothing to her; touching didn't mean anything. People touched every day - and touched, and touched - and it didn't mean anything.
Still, she had to admit that it was nice to saunter arm-in-arm with him through the empty Weyr. Had people been around, she probably wouldn't have. Reputation and all that. (Though would it make it better or worse? She wasn't sure. Better to leave it where it was than to poke it and make it worse.)
"What sort of fun trouble? Well, there's always running into cats and chasing Weyrbeasts and scaring the crap out of small children." Elora laughed. "But I get into trouble a lot, actually. Despite my obviously charming personality, I'm not very well-liked."
Nobody had to say it for her to know it. They all knew what she had been. They didn't like it.
"Add onto that my tendency to skip out on Candidate chores, well... it's easy to get in trouble. By the way-" she yanked on his arm, stopping his walk as she swung in front of him. "If we see the Candidate Master, we are turning and walking in the other direction, because I don't think she'd be happy to see me walking with you instead of doing my chores." She grinned at him.