The wide blue sky is interrupted only by the lazy progress of a flew fluffy clouds, meandering along, while the ocean stretches from the sandy shore as far as the eye can see, reflecting Rukbat's rays with sparkling intensity. Quorra is not entirely idle these days, though she has taken her work beneath the shade of a broad-leafed tree, and the net she's supposed to be mending lies ignored across her lap.
A distant dot grows in definition as well as size as it draws closer; dark wings forming with a lethargically slow motion as the dragon drifts lazily in the sky. For a long while the slippery serpentine path seems to have no purpose or direction, and the good sized brown appears bizarrely riderless. The remote scene of the beach catches attention and suddenly a large long haired-man rises up from where he had been lounging back on his lifemate. It's the occupied cove where they didn't expect one that draws consideration, bringing them ever closer.
If Quorra's eyes were watching the clouds, or even pondering the sky, she'd have noticed the appearance of the dragon where none has been for many days. As it is, her gaze it's doubtful she's really seeing the sand. The pregnant belly is unmistakeable, if not huge (yet), and she's clothed in nondescript creams and browns that look suited exactly for seaside lounging.
The pair swoop down to graze the air above the cove, spying the contents with great curiosity, wind dragging bronzed tresses in a whirling trail behind the main, and a languid tail behind the dragon. This same wind tears a loud twisted sound from the man's lips as he spots the pregnant woman, recognizing her instantly.
Quorra isn't so lucky as to remember Nidhgoth, and she can't yet get a good look at N'tan, though the appearance of a dragon here, on this beach, sparks alarm that kindles in dark eyes and spreads quickly across her face. She considers escape, eyes darting first up the path to the cottage, then off into wilderness, even as she's scrambling to her feet, ascent made slow and awkward by the unaccustomed extra weight at her middle.
Nidhgoth banks sharply around over the jungle, slithering down to the beach to land with a sheeting spray of sand before him, sending the black wave toward Quorra. The rider with the hawkish eyes watches her, quite silent as he remains perched and unmoving.
Quorra steadies herself with a hand against the trunk of that tree, but her flight is stopped by the sudden simple knowledge that there's nowhere to escape /to/. So she stands, her other hand in a fist at her side, chin up and daring comment.
Without waiting for the dragon to lower himself, N'tan flips a leg over and slides down, landing in a puff of grey-black before stalking toward the woman, the expression on his face determinedly stony. Nidhgoth settles and watches, tail snaking around behind him like a feline spying a mouse about to be devoured.
Recognition comes as quickly and as suddenly as N'tan arrived in the sky, growing more sure the closer he comes. Now, more than ever, Quorra wishes she had chosen to run, whether there's anywhere to run to or not. There's always a chance, though, that he doesn't know her. She deliberately shakes her hair over her face, waiting.
N'tan looks as if he were going to plow Quorra right down when he comes to a sudden breaking halt inches before the protruding belly, glaring down at it burning brown eyes. "Tell me you're a whore," he demands.
"What, so you can know I'm just like you?" Quorra's words are hardly wise, but his words have needled her temper.
"Stupid," is N'tan's typical one word response that covers her words and his newly formed opinion of her. A long rigid finger stabs at the stomach while the unvoiced question contorts the serpent features.
"Don't you /touch/ me," Quorra warns, stepping back to evade that finger. "What do you want?" Baldly asked, her words drip ice and disdain.
N'tan says nothing while he looks her over, studying her aristocratic features and healthy bearing. All at once his demeanor just melts in the Istan sun and he is the sudden picture of ease. The man even backs off a single step and cranks the long angular features into a smile. "Caught me off guard. Sorry."
Quorra doesn't miss any of it, not the considering glance or the calculated step, though the apology is accepted with a terse nod. "What do you /want/?" She repeats, insistently. The rigid length of her spine softens not at all; she's got too much to lose.
Turning toward the sea N'tan peels off the sticky tunic and stares out over the expanse of beach to the water. "It's numbweed boiling time," he says as if it explains everything to his satisfaction. Nidhgoth pulls himself up and saunters forward so that he can be relieved of his burdens. Once he is the dragon leaps up and swings around, heading toward the soothing blue beyond.
"So?" Quorra manages to pack an unbelievable amount into that one word: frustration at the situation, disgust with N'tan himself, and even a hint of hidden fear. "There's other beaches." She gestures off into the distance.
The shirt is tossed limply over his shoulder as N'tan turns to look blank-faced at Quorra. "Don't miss me?" He already knows this answer by her deportment, but it's fun to see their responses anyway. Nidhgoth sails right into the little bay and disappears: fishing, swimming, and cooling off all at once. Mostly just disappearing.
"Dreadfully," Quorra drawls, rolling her eyes to the sky while crossing her arms above her stomach. She watches Nidhgoth go with a raised eyebrow. "I wouldn't let him go too far, if I was you. You'll be needing him to leave, soon."
A pile of items had been removed from the brown and now lie there at N'tan's feet. From this heap there is movement that is as green as the jungle around them; like a leaf unfolding unto Spring. Shaking off sleep, a little firelizard chirps up at the man and he bends to pull some dried meat out of a satchel to feed her. She's so small and fragile, and is diminished even more next to the large man that crouches there attending her with such tender actions. Quorra is momentarily ignored.
Quorra eyes the broad expanse of N'tan's back. "Don't talk much, do you?" She heaves a sigh, resignation showing in every breath and movement as she reaches for the forgotten fishing net, thrown to the ground when she struggled to her feet. Her thoughts dart in a hundred directions at once, but she's relaxing as she realizes that he couldn't possibly know who she was. She lowers herself back to the sand.
"Didn't bother you before," N'tan says without turning. Scooping up the firelizard, he holds her in the wide palm and continues to feed her, not quite stupid enough to give her full reign of the broad shoulders with those hatchling claws. Glancing over his shoulder, the brownrider watches Quorra out of the corner of a muddy eye, oily grin hidden from her view.
"Didn't say it bothered me now," Quorra returns, with an arch glance. Settled almost exactly into her former position, she peers at the net, quick fingers fumbling to make the knots she's only just been taught.
The shirt is tossed to puddle near Quorra and the green set upon it with little nibbles of meat to occupy her. N'tan settles down with boot-tips facing the woman, knees brought up to give elbows something to balance on. He watches her through the gap, eyeing the belly. "Is it mine?" harkening back to the whore reference from earlier. Nidhgoth is now swimming around, only his head above the water like the great Locness Monster of old Terrain legends.
"No," Quorra lies, perhaps a bit too calmly, pretending absorption in the task at hand. She crosses one ankle over the other.
The little green whistles and N'tan looks down at her, a wicked grin spreading across his narrow lips. "She says you lie." He's embellishing, but apparently he thinks she does too. The arching eyes bore into the blackness, attempting to mine the truth.
Quorra has spent too many turns telling too many lies to be shaken by a mere firelizard. "Is that so?" She pretends airy unconcern, now. "And how long have you been counting on your firelizard to tell you who tells the truth?" Her tone is flatly patronizing.
"I haven't. I'm saying even a stupid firelizard can tell you are lying, woman," N'tan says with a slight wicked grin puckering his lips.
"You /are/ a sharding idiot, aren't you?" Quorra tries a different tack. "If you want to believe it's yours, you go right ahead."
You sense Nidhgoth bespeaks you directly with >> Inky putrid darkness washes into your mind, flooding the sewers and washing the rotting dead corpses of your past out into the open waters. It's a feeling so jarring that a stab of pain emanates from the source. A dark visitor slinks through your thoughts like a thief, burrowing deeper and deeper, leaving a trail of black slime throughout. <<
N'tan just sits there staring blankly at Quorra, watching and waiting silently.
Quorra winces visibly, anger flickering in her eyes as a silent struggle to make her thoughts her own again commences in her mind. "You tell him," she says, through gritted teeth, "to get /out/. /Now/." She gives N'tan stare for stare, dark and intense.
The barest hint of a grin surfaces and yet N'tan says nothing. Nidhgoth stalks up the black sands toward Quorra as if the closer proximity will allow him greater access. The little green flutters with emotional discomfort, but one of the man's hands absently moves to soothe her and she settles.
You sense Nidhgoth bespeaks you directly with >> Buried in the snake hole, lurking there in the blackness, are a pair of eerie glowing eyes that press ever onward. Memories, thoughts, and disturbing emotions are rustled up with the passing of the black hunter, each hungrily devoured and then spat out into broken shards. <<
"/Now/," Quorra repeats her demand with even more insistence. "Or by Faranth, I'll make you wish you had." This unfounded threat is accompanied by the curl of her hands into tense, tight fists.
You sense Nidhgoth bespeaks you directly with >> The scent of decay ripples with each step taken by the haunting intruder, distributing disturbing voices from the past that begin to layer upon one another so thickly it creates a wall that traps and enshrouds the mind. Demons are released with an cackle that echoes like a death rattle. Something is stolen. <<
N'tan laughs into the sky and Quorra's face, eyes lighting with an evil that enthralls his body, prickling skin and sending wave after wave of pleasure to his extremities. Quivering, he lowers the piercing gaze to stab forcefully into her's. "Q'luin? That the father?"
Quorra's glare never wavers. "Yes. Q'luin. He's the father," she latches desperately onto the lie. "Are you happy now?"
You sense Nidhgoth bespeaks you directly with >> The rustle of decomposing halts, and the gloom goes quiet, but still the prowler remains there in the darkness, waiting. <<
"Q'luin?" N'tan repeats, and then considers, "He know?" If there isn't one angle, there will be another. She has something to hide; that much is obvious.
"No." Quorra is quick to deny. "And if you tell him, I'll tell him it's yours," she threatens, seeking to lure him as far away from the truth as she can.
You sense Nidhgoth bespeaks you directly with >> The presence is so still it seems gone, but a small tell tale trickle of stench remains. <<
N'tan rocks with laughter. "Such a pitiful threat," he mocks.
The beginnings of a satisfied smirk quirks the corners of Quorra's mouth, though it's quickly gone again. "Get off my beach," she says, tiredly, returning her attention to the net in her lap.
N'tan stands, smacking a large paw on a leg to punctuate another repetition, "Q'luin, huh? I'll find him. Won't take me 10 minutes." There are so many threats in that statement. Nidhgoth rumbles, pulling himself back and away in a multitude of manners. The little green attempts to fly with the shirt in her talons, but barely gets off the ground. The big man scoops her up, along with the shirt as he prepares to leave.
"Why's it any of /your/ business?" Quorra challenges. "Leave it alone." She's frowning darkly, imagining her twin's reaction to this tall, broad man's confrontation.
The green is tossed into the air to wing her way to Nidhgoth where she lands safely between his headknobs, barely a speck of leafy green against the bronzed brown's large head. A sly greasy grin is spared for Quorra as N'tan responds, "Either you lie or you hide from this Q'luin." Turning away, the man pretends to leave, but swings back as if dawning a thought. "I could be persuaded," either way.
"What do you want?" Quorra asks, suspicion narrowing her eyes and threaded through her low pitched voice.
"I dunno. You tell me," N'tan returns, threading the intensely muscled arms on his chest as he leans back on a heel.
"I'm tired of this game," Quorra says, as if she were the one in control and not him. "I haven't got anything you want, but obviously you've thought of something, or you wouldn't have said. So just tell me what it is, or go. I don't care which." She adds, as an afterthought. "And /don't/ come back."
"You're pampered," is said as N'tan turns away in the way of an answer. Striding to the pile of items, he collects them and precedes to his dragon and begins setting things to right. Nidhgoth watches her closely while the man's back is turned, tan fading across the tough sinewy hide.
"Oh, yes, very," Quorra says, with another exagerated eye roll. "That's why I'm sitting here mending a net and eating fish every night of the sevenday. Pampered, indeed." She snorts.
The chuckle is faint and brief as N'tan turns back to her, ready to be on his way. "I can find Q'luin and see what he has for me, or you can give me what I want," pours out in explanatory wordiness. "You know what I want." Leaping aboard, he looms down from an even greater height.
"I haven't /got/ any money," Quorra protests, peering up and up and up towards N'tan's face, or rather, where she thinks his face must be, as Rukbat's glare behind his head makes it impossible to see him clearly.
"Q'luin it is," N'tan says matter-of-factly and gestures for Nidhgoth to back, which he does, with graceful mincing steps in the soggy sand. The green all but slides down the great neck, caught before certain ruin by the man with stuffs her into the bundle behind him. The great wings expand.
Quorra shrugs like it doesn't matter, though she's already planning the note to her brother that will accompany her little bronze firelizard to Ista as soon as N'tan is out of sight.
N'tan isn't as dumb as he looks. Q'luin is a name that can be linked to her one way or another, and he's a clever man, knowing quite well how to follow the bread crumbs to the feast he suspects is growing in her belly. A derogatory salute is shot off and they are off, the brownrider's eyes gleaming with a dark glee that wasn't present when he landed. Not far off the ground Nidhgoth bugles blaringly, and disappears between - the snake now disappears down the rabbit hole.
Quorra is off like a shot as soon as N'tan is gone - well, as much like a shot as a heavily pregnant woman can be. She hurries up the path to the cottage, and not two minutes later a little bronze 'lizard flies out the window and winks immediately into ::between::.