(122-09-03) The Cliffs of Insanity
The Cliffs of Insanity
Summary: Rhaegor's dragon fever sets in.
Date: 3 September 2015
Related: Slavers in the Sands, Dragon Rising

The day was bright and scorching, and it will suit them better to travel by night — soon enough, magnetized to the dragons the Targaryens feel so strongly lurk in Dorne. The sunset spills a wash of colour over the landscape once again, illuminating a scattering of interruptions in the rock-and-sand earth that surrounds the camp: the curving lines of a desert snake, and the thin sandal prints of Emira, as if she wandered off in search of the creature when she disappeared some time ago, all the way around the outcropping that shaded the camp. A hiss fills the air, but it is no snake's tongue; the Martell princess occupies herself with fierce practice, battling the air like it's wrought with phantoms she means to take down one by one, or perhaps ten at a time, given the speed by which she moves. The whip of her body through the air makes the sound: it's acrobatic, focused, all but running up the vertical surface of a rock and spinning outward. A princess has to keep on her toes.

Rhaegor's drifted away from camp, as if Emira's own pull proves strong enough to rival that of the dragons they've been chasing. For a while, he is content to watch her from a distance; the agile athleticism of her performance is like a dance upon the Dornish sands. Accomplished. Rhythmic. Powerful. She's just launched herself from the rock and spun when she finds him suddenly before her, and even if she'd known he'd been watching her, he closed out the distance between them fairly swiftly while her back was turned. His sword, as ever, is belted in a scabbard at his waist, but he holds a Dornish spear borrowed from Prince Torren's man. A weapon he has demonstrated an interest in developing his skill with. He points it at Emira now, engaging her with just that subtle challenge. He's outmatched, he with the spear and she with the whip. But he asks her just the same, "Shall we dance?"

Stripped free of travelling clothes, silken trousers free her movement, and her waist is bared to the familiar air. She's left her sandals overturned nearby, alongside her lengthy dagger and the spear well-used from the excursion of bandits — should she be set upon by more. It would be highly unlikely that they could sneak up on her, given the expanse of land stretching ahead and the camp behind … but her focus is so intense that she had not seemed to even notice Rhaegor watching. Perhaps it is not focus, but passion that drives her practice, the kind of passion that blurs out all else, for when he is suddenly in front of her, she is an animal startled into attacking, ducking low as though she is about to pounce. Recognition strikes and her eyes blaze, a toothy smile closely behind. She reaches for Rhaegor's spear, pushing it to the side much more gently than every movement that preceded it — or, likely, that will follow. "Not yet with the spear," she declares, despite his desire to learn the art. Her whip is close at hand, and she tosses that pointedly to her pile of weapons, indicating Rhaegor should do the same — and then she takes several steps back, a not-so-subtle challenge in her eye, her curling fingers goading him to take her on.

Rhaegor sort of seems to have his own blend of Westerosi and Dornish attire, as if straddling both realms despite having both feet firmly planted in the latter. He prefers the heavier armor he's accustomed to, but has traded plate for leather for their journey, otherwise garbing himself in the lighter layers more conducive to desert travel. He doesn't take his chances with abandoning armor and weaponry even when they are at leisure; the risks he will take when he faces the Whoremaster are one thing, and in the wake of their run-in with the slavers he is reluctant to take any chances on that front. His pale violet eyes thrill at Emira's sudden lunge, and sharpen when she pushes the spear aside so disarmingly. Rhaegor's temper flickers at the dismissal, flaring in his stare and rippling through his form as he tenses. But then she tosses aside the whip, and challenges him bare-handed, and Rhaegor flashes her an unrestrained grin, the rare sort she's occasionally won from him in the privacy of their own company. He throws the spear aside, and then loosens the buckle of his sword belt, letting it unfurl slowly from his waist. "If that's your whim," he says, obligingly.

Emira grins like a champion for winning Rhaegor's smile, knowing its rarity; more, for acceptance of the challenge on her terms. "Is it not sometimes better, to fight naked?" So to speak, but a knowing gleam lends mischief easily to her dark eyes as she watches the drop of his sword belt. Her challenging stance is also one of waiting — of her to come to him — but her impetuousness winds up leading the charge, spurring her to run straight at Rhaegor like a bull, only to swerve widely around him to his left.

<FS3> Opposed Roll — Emira=Brawl Vs Rhaegor=Brawl
< Emira: Success Rhaegor: Good Success
< Net Result: Rhaegor wins - Marginal Victory

The sword belt is cast aside with a careful toss, and they are locked in that brief impasse of two predators waiting, each, to see what the other will do. His grin lingers, mirroring the gleam in her dark stare. He watches her intently, knowing well enough by now that the only thing truly predictable about her is her unpredictability. And in the blink of an eye she's upon him with her charge, and he turns in a circle that reflects the one she runs around him in her swerve. She has the advantage of size and dexterity on him, but he's got the patience, even if it's in much shorter supply than usual with the heat of the dragon blood surging and pounding and wreaking havoc in his veins. The stakes here are low; he abandons his usually cautious approach in favor of the adrenaline of a more reckless one, charging after her headlong instead of waiting for her next attempt, a hand outstretched for want of capturing a limb.

He catches her arm and she clamps upon his forearm in return even as she swings across the sand, and for a moment they truly could be in a dance. Emira catches his eye again, and the flash in hers is as approving of his speed and lack of caution as it is inflamed that he caught her; it's a volatile mix, and she revels in it. She uses their grasp of each other as a strong handhold; suddenly Emira is no longer standing on the ground — she's sliding down along the sand as though it's as frictionless to her as water, pulling Rhaegor's bigger, stronger arm with her at an odd angle before letting go into a roll.

And perhaps it's the unarmed brawl that lends him so easily to abandoning his usual martial discipline — that, and of course, the fact it's her he grapples with. She's proven capable of so easily disarming him, unique in her accomplishment of that particular feat. The flash in Emira's eyes goads him further, as if there were nothing more important to Rhaegor in this moment than reclaiming that tenuous hold he'd briefly had on her arm. He nearly loses his footing in the shifting sands when she slips his grasp to go into that tumble, and then rather than fight it he uses the momentum to propel him through a leap and slide, this time clutching after her ankle as she comes out of her roll.

Emira doesn't stop moving for a second, however — as soon as she's landed in a spring-loaded crouch, she's trying to elude Rhaegor, a murmur under her breath — almost laughter, it's lower than that, and more animal. This time, it's not a swerve to one side that she attempts, and there's no further down she can slip — but such simple rules of direction are blatantly refuted by the likes of Emira. She reaches backward sharply, hands behind her head, and propels her entire body backwards in a flip and spray of sand. Even if Rhaegor manages to keep hold of her small ankle, she has a chance of kicking him on the way.

And his hold on her ankle proves more fleeting than the preceding grip on her arm. Emira flips effortlessly out of his grasp, and Rhaegor twists away as swiftly as he can muster to avoid catching a foot to the face. It leaves him planted in the sand, and he stays there to watch her land the acrobatic feat in straight up awe. Admiration. Adoration. It's hard to distinguish the one from the other in his stare. He sounds a low whistle, duly appreciative of the flair with which she's evaded him. It's a brief interlude, and then the softness in his eyes hones to keen determination and he launches himself to his feet, waiting before making his next strike.

On her land, her breath catches up to her; a minimal strain, all things considered, and the rise and fall of it only lends a vigor to Emira. A passion. She spins and looks at Rhaegor long enough to grin at him (more for the fact that he's in the sand than his whistle, truth be told) before she, too, plays a waiting game. She jogs to the outcropping, leaping onto a large rock at the bottom. Its surface is slightly slanted, putting her stance at a disadvantage, but from here, she is as tall as Rhaegor, a feat she can't claim from the sand. She spreads her feet apart, her hands curling into fists as she shouts with vigor, "You will have to be faster, to get your hands on me, here, outside our bed!"

Rhaegor's not above running after her; it's hardly the first time he's done it, either. No, the first time was the first time they met, and what he says in response once he's caught up to her at the outcropping is, "I'll chase you all through this world and the next." Her height on the rock forces him to look up at her as he says it. And then, with mischief rather than the wild, unchecked impulse that had bidden him to say the first thing, he adds, "To hear you beg for my hands? Well worth it." He's already looking for a hand hold, and then the next, to climb up with her when suddenly Rhaegor tenses, dropping himself back down to the sand. He bristles, taking a few steps away from the cover of the rock formation, slow and measured in his pace. At first, it seems as if he's sensed something, someone, has intruded on them at their leisure. But then, telltale, his stare rises skyward.

"I will not beg," Emira replies boldly; the defiance in her voice dances with amusement, however, and takes on a familiar tone now; familiar with him, a banter of sorts. But the words have scarcely left her mouth before a change overtakes Rhaegor. She senses it like a shifting wind across the sand heralding a storm. She steps close to the ledge of the rock and follows his gaze upward. To her, it's nothing but a darkening sky, painted with sunset clouds — beautiful, but empty. Still, she knows, asking straightforwardly, "Is it close?"

Rhaegor scans the sky, his gaze flicking here, there and everywhere, as if what he searches for is palpable even as it eludes him. He stands there, frozen but for the tilting of his head, while Emira watches him from on high. He doesn't say anything. He changes gear from utterly still to a state of agitated restlessness without notice, covering a fair bit of ground and retracing his steps and going here and there and back again, all the while craning his head back, searching the sky. Suddenly he's back at the outcropping, hauling himself up next to Emira and then climbing, even though he isn't very agile at it, up past her, until he's at the highest vantage point he can reach, laboring for breath from the exertion and freneticism with which he does it. There's no sign of her, overhead. And Rhaegor lets out a sound that's gutteral in its frustration, so close and yet so far, his flesh seething red, inflamed by the boiling of his blood and the desperation of his desire.

Emira follows him after a quick moment, climbing spryly up the scattering of rockfaces, only to stand beside Rhaegor, watching him rather than the blank skies. Her jaw contracts visibly and moves from side to side in uncommon indecision, though her gaze remains fierce, as if still frozen mid-fight. She reaches for his arm, then, letting her grip sink into seething skin and muscle in a manner that is not martial, but is not exactly warm with compassion, either; it does thrum with a kind of urgency. "We should get moving, through the night," she suggests, "And follow."

There's a higher ledge yet, but it hardly looks big enough for Emira to climb up and perch upon, much less Rhaegor. That it isn't enough to support his weight is plain to anyone who looks on it, and it's likely why he stopped where they both stand now, she with her hand on his arm, he still desperately searching the sky. It seems, at first, like some of the tension goes out of him at her touch. But then, inexplicably, Rhaegor makes to scramble up the rock to that final peak, bidden to get just that bit closer to the sky, even though it will hardly afford him any better a view, and is more than likely to betray him and send him plunging to the sand below.

Rhaegor's sudden plan — if it can be called such — shocks Emira, forcing her expression into harsh, sharp lines. She immediately rushes after him, staring up at him and past him at the dubious spire. "You will fall, going up there," she states the obvious in a rushed voice, grabbing for him, any part of him that can win her a handhold — but he is bigger than her, and stronger, though her small form certainly packs a remarkable dose of vigor. It may not be enough to match his determination. She sees something in it, a madness, a heat, that prompts her not to clambor and grab after him any further, but to jump down to the next ledge and leap onto the sand … to fetch her whip. The crack of it rings through the still desert a second later.

It's treacherous, even trying to get up there, as problematic as the peak he aims to reach. At Emira's rushed, frantic words, he pauses, his eyes going from the sky to her to the rocky precipice above. "I can reach it," he tells her with grim determination, mistaking her meaning and thinking it's the climb she objects to rather than its aim. And then she's gone, and it's just as well, but the going is slow and he's only halfway between when he hears the crack of the whip. It halts him, like the threatening sound of it arrests him. She's already climbing up behind him again, but he doesn't make any further move to advance toward the apex. It may feel like forever, to Emira, but when he moves, it's in an effort to descend, once more, to the stable ledge below.

She waits with grit teeth throughout, her whip remaining in constant threat of use again, handle clutched tight, as she waits for any sign that Rhaegor is going to rethink again and start back up the rock unwisely. When he's upon sturdy, flat rock, Emira goes to him, standing close and looking up at him — as though there is no vast height, made more by the slant she stands upon — and reaches up to push him squarely in the chest with the hand that does not grip the whip. "It is the fever, the madness," she says, and though her words carry a certain ferocity, a sort of anger, she does not accuse him for what he's done; it's a fact. She steps toward Rhaegor again despite the already short space.

Rhaegor looks down at the hand she plants on his chest to deliver the shove, his eyes bright and feverish in the wake of the spell she singularly freed him from. He's still uneasy, all his muscles taut with the tension of being bound to the earth rather than up in the sky. But the hallmark of the shifting of his mood, the truest sign that the worst of it has broken and begun, already, to pass, is the way that he avoids meeting her eye, abashed and perhaps tempered by shame. When she takes that step nearer still, he seems about to say something, but the discomfort of the thought manifests in his hesitation to give voice to it.

Emira has no particular interest in shame. She angles her head one way and then the other, as if doing so could grant her an even sharper view of Rhaegor's expression and to try to push her gaze into his. "Maybe you can use it to find her, next time," she suggests — wonders, "but you can not fly yet. Hm?" She lifts her opposite hand to his face, just barely reaching the edge of his jaw, running knuckles and a faint curve of the whip over his skin. It verges on gentle until she tries to knock his chin up to make him look at her.

Rhaegor tilts his head toward the affection, such as it is, halfway at least to meeting her stare before at last Emira forces it to be so. He doesn't apologize, though there is a trace of the sentiment in his still-bright eyes. His hands, palms rent by the sharp edges of the perilous rocks he'd tried to scale, bloody her cheeks when he takes hold of her face. "It might be worse," he confesses, and there's no mistaking what he's referring to. His condition. And then, what he'd hesitated to say but finally does, emboldened by the press of the whip or the directness of her stare, "I'll ride her, or I'll die for trying." A low, level, statement of fact.

She looks fascinated by the statement, the truth she hears in them. Even as she takes it in, acknowledging, Emira isn't still, can't be still; she tilts her head against his hand, not caring about the blood. Maybe it's only madness, unremoved from his Targaryen blood, but admiration builds in her gaze for Rhaegor's bold determination— and, perhaps, recklessness. Her expression is serious, understanding, until she braces her arms on his shoulders and leaps up, wrapping him with her legs as they did in the middle of the sands at the tournament in Skyreach: her smile turns to fire, bright and quick and dangerous. "Then we better get hunting. You will ride."

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