A deep broad pool marks the beginning, or the end of the lake. Refreshing, cool water flows down the waterfall coming from a spring high in the Garish hills, and fills a lake that stretches far to the north, only to disappear near the bathhouse. Numerous rocks are scattered out around the cloud of water that surrounds the waterfall's flow crashing into the pool, which gives the entire area a wet, yet cool athmosphere. Small amount of trees surround the high clifwall, masking a sturdy rope lader that stretches acros the lake up to the top of the waterfall.
It is a winter afternoon.
Spray> StarCraft Courtyard
Spray> Where the hills of Gar meet the softer plains of the valley, rock slowly turns to gravel, dust and earth, leaving a large natural courtyard tucked against the walls of the hall. A low wall marks a boundary for the courtyard, rock and earth's battle for domination kept outside of it. Strong doors set in the hill wall, provide a new way to get into the hall, long windows letting light into the otherwise quite dark hall. They look out upon a grassy valley, filled with water, vineyards and herdbeast. Trails formed by the feet of human wind around rocks and trees, trailing off into the wilderness.
Spray> It is a winter afternoon.
Spray> Cress is here.
Spray> Spray blinks in from ::between:: in a flash of silvery blue.
Spray> Standing at only 5'5 this young man's size is not impressive. His blond hair, which has resently been cut short at the back and the front, is the color of wheat, has bleached strands, and he has a light tan from the sun, even if he doesn't spend many hours outside. Narrow gray eyes are framed by light-colored lashes and brows, and his cheekbones are angular as is his chin. His muscles are hardened, from long hours of hard work, done in his previous life as a trader. A scar runs along the right side of his neck and his most obvious feature is a missing inch of his right little finger.
Spray> His legs are covered by coal-coloured trousers, which are well worn and patched in many placed. A broad leather belt keeps the trousers from falling down around his ankles. A darkgreen shirt covers his upper body, also showing signs of beeing old, having rips along a number of seams. His dark boots, which come up to the ankles, are scuffed but are well-polished with a shine. Cress' Pack hangs heavily from Cress's shoulder. Perched on Cress's shoulder is Wintermute.
Spray> A knot of intertwined, double corded red and silver, looped once and left with a small tail, shows that he is a Senior Apprentice to the StarCraft.
Spray> Cress is 19 Turns, 10 months, and 10 days old.
Cress seems to be looking at Spray...
Spray> Spray chirrups once and circles his humanpet's friend.
Spray glides in from the Lakeside.
Cress moves slowly in from the Lakeside.
Spray emits a trilling croon and swoops over to land on Linora's shoulder. She looks up with a start, reaching up to scritch his neck, a quiet smile lighting her face.
Cress follows the chirping firelizard, smiling to Linora as he sees her here. "Hi, Lin," he says, voice low, talking slow. "How're you today." Not too upset, he hopes, as he takes a seat in the grass next to her.
Now a familiar voice reaches Linora's ears over the sound of the waterfall, and she twists around to greet Cress with a smile. "Hey!" Okay, she's trying to sound casual. But she's /so/ happy to see that he hasn't actually left yet. She can keep dreading that day a little bit longer, but right now she's forcing herself not to think about that. "How ya doin'?" She picks Fury off her shoulder to nestle him in her lap, much to his annoyance, and giggles at his discomfiture. "Got pretty big already, huh?" Glancing over at Cress again as if for confirmation.
Cress nods slowly, looking down at the lizard. "Yeah, they grow pretty fast," he mumbles. Yeah, let's just avoid the major issue, he had no problem with that. "I can hardly remember mine being hatchlings anymore.."
Fury hisses and scrambles back up onto Linora's shoulder, eyes whirling an annoyed yellow. With a sigh and a mental shrug, she leans back on her hands to look up at Cress. "He's not as... nice as Spray," she says, a little apologetically. "I mean... he's nice and stuff, but..." Well, he's got an attitude. She looks at sleepy Spray... yeah, she can remember him being a hatchling. And Dixie too, weren't they clutchmates? "I 'member," she says quietly. But she remembers everything. Does seem like a long time ago now, though...
Cress leans back on his hands, 'Mute crawling into his lap as he does so. He glances down as the brown makes himself comfortable, then looks at Lin's agressive new lizard. "He certainly doesn't seem all that friendly, does he?"
Linora shakes her head, a little sadly. "Not much." Oh, well. Maybe he'll be faster. Or smarter. Or something. She looks over at 'Mute with a fond smile - first 'lizard she ever got to hold - and chews her lip. And just can't keep her mouth shut, turning her eyes back over the water. "Talk t'Riina yet?" Was that loud enough to hear?
Cress' turn to chew on his lip. Shaking his head, he blushes slightly. Putting off the inevitable, is he? "No, not yet," he mumbles, looking down at 'Mute, then up at Lin again. He was gonna have to talk to his mentor soon, wasn't he?
Unless he wants to stay. And he's made it pretty clear that he doesn't. Even Lin understands, even if she's not happy about it. "I wish..." With a sigh, she breaks off. She doesn't even know what she wishes. Just that things were different. She shakes her head. "It'll be spring soon," she remarks. As if it made a difference on Ista island.
Cress nods slowly, knowing that spring was coming. Which meant that the roads would be clear up north. Even if they'd be filled with mud. "Not long now...." He starts chewing on the inside of his cheek now, eyes darting here and there, trying to avoid eye-contact with Lin.
Linora can /feel/ the restlessness in Cress. She drops her gaze to the ground, chewing on her lip. "I know," she says quietly. Not long before he leaves, she's thinking. With a little sigh she lowers herself to lie on the grass, Spray and Fury shifting to arrange themselves around her head and in her hair.... and stares up at the sky. After a moment she closes her eyes. Is /this/ what it would be like to sleep outdoors? Breathe. Breathe. Blink - she looks up at the sky again. "I wish I could understand," she murmurs.
Cress wishes he could stay, but the blood in his body was telling him different. His family had been traders through generations, as far back as anyone could remember. He had trouble understanding why most holders were terrified of going futher away from their Hold than they could reach within a moment. "I know," he says, sitting back up to pick at the grass.
Linora rolls her head to one side to look at him, smiling a little halfsmile to see him picking at the grass. The sun, the breeze, the sounds of the water... will she still love those things if she's all alone? She reaches a hand out to close over his, stopping the picking with a gentle squeeze. And looks at his hand in hers, her fingers tracing his, committing every nick and callus to memory... even that missing bit of finger. Then looks up to find his eyes. "I could try?"
Cress' eyes narrow slightly, then widens until they're almost round, as he understands her meaning. "I dunno, Lin... I wouldn't want you leaving here, if ya don't want to." He wouldn't want her to hate him in ten turns time. Hate him for pulling her away from the craft. "I know you like it here.." He squeezes her hand back, looking up at her, catching her eyes, and letting her see the pain in his.
Linora shuts her eyes again, unable to bear his pain on top of hers. "I dunno what I /want/..." just a whisper. "I mean, I thought I did... but... when I think about stayin' here after you're gone... " Even if he promised to come back. She doesn't like the way it feels to think about being here without him. Her hand clasps around his nearly convulsively.
Cress wasn't completely ignorant in love matters. Even if Lin was the first girl he himself had fallen in love with, he'd seen plenty of things like this in the caravan. Didn't make it any easier to deal with though. "I-I..." I don't know what to say, he continues inside his head.
Linora unfortunately can't read minds... but it's easy to see Cress is speechless. Even if she /is/ staunchly looking at the insides of her eyelids. But it's not long before she can't take the silence, and opens her eyes to look up at him. "You're my best friend here," she whispers, echoing words he said to her... how long ago? "I'd hate it if you left." But now he's so much more to her than her best friend. And he /is/ leaving. And she /does/ hate it. And she knows she can't stop him.
Cress knows she'd hate it if he left. He hated leaving her behind, and would love having her with him. But how could he ask a holdbread girl to come out on the road with him? "I love you, Lin," he mumbles, moving closer to her. Which is also why he couldn't ask her to come along.
"I love you, too." Linora looks up at him with soft eyes, torn between wanting to hold him and keep him with her... and wanting to be the one to travel with him. And somehow feeling that neither alternative is entirely satisfactory. Confused and frustrated, she can't blink fast enough to prevent the tear that slips down her cheek and into her ear. She'd known they couldn't be together as appies, of course. But now... everything was different.
Cress sighs, completely out of his depth now, strongly wishing that she'd come with him, and almost saying so to her. He folds his arms around her, and just sits there burying his face in her hair. "I don't know what to do," he whispers.
Linora draws her arms tightly around him and nuzzles into his shoulder. "Naw... you know what t'do," she whispers. He always has known, just denied it. For her? She'd like to think he had his own reasons. She draws back a bit to look into his eyes, her own hopeful... almost fearful. "Take me with you?"
Cress stiffens slightly at her last comment, then searches her eyes carefully. No more beating around the bush. "Are you sure you want to?" Sure that she can even do so? There was nothing more he'd want than to take her with her. But he couldn't ask her to live in fear of threadfall, when outside the safety of a stone building.
Linora chews her lip, sensing rejection as Cress stiffens. "If you... want me?" He'd said so, hadn't he? She nods, swallowing hard. "I think I can." He's never lied to her... that she knows of. If Cress says it's safe.... it must be. Right?
Cress reaches out to brush back a strand of her hair. A slight smile forms on his lips. "Of course I want you...." What else could he say? His eyes burns with unleashed tears of.. Happiness? Joy? "I love you, Linora," he repeats, using her full name to imphasise (sp) that he means it.
Linora's tears are relieved... overjoyed. She reaches up to catch his hand in her hair, covering it with her own. He wants her. He loves her. "I love you, Cress." She'll think about the full implication of what she just said... what she just did. Later. Maybe. Not now.
Cress allows a tear to run down his cheek, but still watches Linora through swimming vision. He wasn't quite sure what was happening either, only that he didn't have to travel alone. "I'll never leave you..." If she really was coming with him, that is.
Linora smiles, her eyes shining. "Never...." Oh, now there's something else to do. Call a Harper. Blink. Still an apprentice. Blink. Ohhhhhh.... She shuts her eyes tight and wraps her arms around him. Let's not think about that stuff right now.
And let's not think about practical stuff. Such as getting a wagon, and beasts to pull that wagon. Cress suddenly chuckles, burying his face in her hair, sniffing it.
Relieved that Cress seems to actually be happy - and not really putting two and two together to come up with the answer that she might have had something to do with that - Linora gives him one last squeeze and then draws back to stand up. "C'mon," she murmurs, tugging on his arm a bit, an almost shy smile lighting her face. "We got a lotta stuff t'do." And stuff.
Cress lets himself get pulled to his feet, a smile forming on his face, though there's still a bit of worry to be seen in his eyes. Worry that she hadn't thought this though fully. "Yeah, lotsa stuff to do..." Like talking to the mentors, and such.
Linora is wrapped up enough in her own whirlwind of thoughts that she doesn't notice the worried look in Cress' eyes. But she does still have a bit of a clue. "We prolly shouldn't go back together," she whispers. If Tierza thought they were obvious before, they might as well have each other's names tattooed on their foreheads now. She stretches up to give him a quick kiss.
Cress nods slowly, standing dumbfounded, as she kisses him again. Not go back together? What did it matter if they'd decided to leave. And besides so many other appies were much more obvious than they were. He nods again, squeezing her hand, before breaking company.
Spray> Linora walks softly to the Lakeside.
Spray> Cress goes home.