Midwife Mur'dah

Xanadu Weyr Region - Highlands

As the track climbs, the land becomes less tame and more rugged, the track narrows to a single trail. The topography is uneaven with unexpected spurs of rock poking from the thick grassland that covers the ground. There are no trees, but the land is far from barren. Low hummocks of brush, roots twisted to grip both soil and rock underneath grow here and there in what is mostly wild grassland. The trail twists now and then as it hugs the contours of the slopes, dipping now and then into gullies where ice cold water whispers through boulder-strewn creeks or rushes over falls on its way to the distant sea.

On the southern horizon, even across the vast distance, the rugged Southern Barrier Range is formidable as it rises above the open plains spread out far below. Should one turn around to face northeast, Xanadu is is lost in the lumpy carpet of forest and meadow, the Caspian Lake and Sea of Azov a silvery gleam that fades to sky beyond. There are wild animals here. Most commonly seen, grazing amongst the clusters of ovine and caprines the shepherds guard are wild herdbeats, mostly the agile blue bucks or corkscrew bucks.

It's seen a few sevens since the ship bearing Raelii's family and the herd of camelids docked at Xanadu Weyr. Chapar made it clear he expected his daughter to rejoin them and help get the beasts settled in their highland home and so the perky teen has been absent from the Weyr proper since then. She had but an hours' time to speak to her supervisor, excuse herself from her work assignment pack, and hastily scribble a note to Mur'dah before she was off, taking the flank position on the slow-moving herd as they made their way down the forest track, past the bovine complex and to the highlands via the upland track. Behind the animals, heavy draybeasts pulled the family's colorful wagon, creaking and groaning up the incline. It's now tucked back against the steep-sided slope just outside the high pasture where the camelid herd is grazing, seen in the distance. Raelii? Is nowhere to be seen. Uh oh? At least there's no snow. Or tall trees to drop from.

Time to be cautious, to be sure. Mur'dah arrives on Kalsuoth, the brown gliding to land in a clear spot a short distance from the wagons. Dismounting, Mur'dah moves forward with slow steps, hobbling a bit as he favors his ankle. "Hello?" he hollers, cupping a hand to his mouth as he does so, and as Kalsuoth lifts off to perch on a higher peak, out of the way of grazing beasts.

Though there are few trees here, there are small, scrubby brush-like attempts at forestation, but most of the vegetation is grass, tough, but nutritious. As Kalsuoth glides into sight, the entire herd bolts soundlessly for the far side of the pasture, every long neck aloft and head turned to watch him land, and then soft muzzles turn to watch him land with large, limpid eyes wide. No harm done; it's a large pasture, they'll forget the dragon is there and settle eventually - until he moves again. There's a curl of smoke from the wagon's stovepipe, which means Lei is likely within. Chapar's hulk emerges from a rough shed, one meaty hand brushing sawdust from his hair. Nevermind he's a brownrider, "Boy," he rumbles in a rather stern greeting as he bobs his head. "Bring ye news of the steward or are ye in search of my errant daughter?" There's both warmth for Mur'dah (who's name he likely knows) and fond exasperation for the absent Raelli.

Mur'dah dips his head in respect to the large man. Nope, no brownrider here. Just a boy and a grownup. "No news from the Steward, sir. Just checking in and seeing if you've need of anything. And to see Raelli, if she's around and free?"

If she's free. That brings a snort and an almost-smirk from Chapar, which could well, mean anything. "Y'kin tell 'im to end the hay shipments now that the summer growth is in full swing," the huge man says bluntly. As for Raelii, his tree-like arm waves at the hills. "She's somewhere… out there," he grunts. "Fence blew down and one of the camelids snuck off. My daughter left after breakfast to go find 'er. Hasn't returned." Aaaand now it's late afternoon. Does Chapar seem worried? Nope! "You want a runner?" He's assuming the lad is going to go looking for her. There are a few tied to the fence, probably used by Raelii's younger brothers recently. "She went that way," he adds, gesturing to the rough, tumbled upslope that eventually - in the distance - leads to the mountains behind Xanadu.

Mur'dah nods. "Yes, sir, I'll tell him," the brownrider promises, already asking Kalsuoth to pass it along to someone actually on duty. Because he'll forget. And he knows it. "Ah, if you wouldn't mind," he says, eying the runners before hobbling over to a stout bay, swinging up with the use of his good foot. "That way? Sure." Squinting into the distance, the brownrider nods.

Chapar should write a formal note to Jethaniel. Really he should. And sign it. But the man is a rough trader/herder and so, eh. He doesn't. And Mur'dah's assurance is good enough for him. He nods, it's curt but that's only because he's focused on his work. "Good luck," he says and boy does he seem to mean that, heh. Back to work, must get that… whatever finished and with a meaty paw, he waves casually. "Stay for dinner," he mumbles absently, his mind already back inside that shed, where he soon follows. Raelii? Somewhere up in the heights. There will be, on the far side of the paddock an obviously mended rail and tracks to lead Mur'dah.

Mur'dah urges the bay runner on, patting its neck and keeping his bad ankle free from the stirup, trusting on his skill and his other leg to keep him in the saddle should the runner decide to cause issues. It doesn't though, and the pair move easily through the pasture to the end of the fence. "Do you jump?" Mur'dah asks, eying the low spot in the rails, and setting the runner back a few paces. Moving forward again, the runner hops easily over the fence and Mur'dah lets him canter along the path. "Rae?" he calls, hand cupped to his mouth as they move higher, zig zagging back and forth and he lets the runner find his own way.

It is awhile of steep uphill climbing, the runner heaving itself up while scrabbling at times for footing on the rough incline. He's a hardy beast, probably chosen because of his sturdy dependability and so where the ground levels to allow for the occasional breather, he merely flicks his tail, whuffs to catch his breath while moving onward and upwards, winding around tussock and brush, following the track left by the wandering camelid and the searching Raelii. There comes a time when one of those calls pays off. There's only one person who called her 'Rae'. "Mur'dah?" is the answer somewhere up above and then a somewhat disheveled caramel-haired Raelii pokes her head over a cleft. "What're you doing here?" There's a grin and an added, "Hi!" No lack of enthusiasm on her face. She's obviously glad to see him but she doesn't launch herself through the air at him. Why's that? Hah! That remains to be seen.

Mur'dah sits easily in the saddle, letting the runner do as he will until they reach the flat spot where Raelii answers him. "I came to see you," the bownrider calls, grinning. "Everything okay?" He doesn't dismount, staying on the runner but holding him in place. "Hi!"

"Really?" Obviously pleased, Raelii's smile grows, and she says pertly, "Well you found me!" From behind her there's a rustling sound in that cleft and she turns her head to look over her shoulder, squeaks and withdraws from sight. There's a thrashing, the snap-crackle of brush and an exclamation from her. Is everything all right? Her disembodied voice floats down to him past the bushes that choke the entrance to that cleft, "I…might have a little problem. Uhhh…" More noises, some shuffling and her breathing can be heard. "Mur'dah, can you come help me up here?" It's…not exactly runner-accessible, the little nook Raelii's got herself in. It's a few steep yards up, brush-choked with a little clearing in the center and surrounded by craggy rocks to form a sort of protected 'cup' in the heights. Lying on her side in the center is a camelid and in Raelii's arms, a curly-haired, wet, newborn cria. "I found the missing one just in time," she announces, her face worried and unsure. "Only… she's not doing all that well."

Mur'dah frowns, dismounting carefully. "What sort of problem? Are you okay?" Cautiously, minding his ankle, he crawls up the slope on hands and knees. "Ooooh, baby!" The 'awww' has to wait though, as he looks at the mother. "Who isn't? The baby or the mom?"

Raelii misses the care with which Mur'dah crawls up the slope but she does lift her head to give him a look of profound relief at his arrival. "The…mother," she answers with a perplexed look at the brownrider. He's worked with camelids at his uncle's hold - or she assumes he did. The camelid is lying on her side, unmoving and not skittering nervously away from Mur'dah. "She won't get up." Well, that's obvious. The baby is curled in Raelii's arms but the mother is not lifting her head to tend it.

Mur'dah looks at the mother and then at the baby. "Is there another one in there?" he asks, glancing at the mother, then at the baby, and then at Raelii. "Did you, you know…take a look around inside?" Gross!

Raelii blinks at Mur'dah, then eyes the dam. Then lifts her eyes to stare at him once again. Another one? Aghast, "What?!" She reaches a hand to patpat the prone camelid's belly before the rest of Mur'dah's question sinks in. "N-ooooo…" she says slowly, brown eyes large while holding his. "How do you do that?" Raelii's a trader, not a beascrafter. Her arms curl more securely around that baby. Busy!

Mur'dah clears his throat, grimacing. "Well, you just…I mean…I've never done it but I've seen it done a few times. Do…no. Wait." His eyes unfocus and nothing happens for a few moments. Then a firelizard appears, chirps, and vanishes. "Faranth, I can't believe I'm doing this," Mur'dah mutters, shrugging out of his jacket and rolling up the sleeve of his right arm.

The firelizard's appearance and disappearance barely registers as Raelii stares at Mur'dah. Hasn't ever done….whaaaaat? Raelii just eyes him as he rolls up his sleeve. Her eyes flick to that prostrate camelid, then back to Mur'dah. The expression on her face, it's comical. One arm shifts the weight of the cria and she reaches a hand to pat the dam again, then pokes experimentally. There's no response. "Uh, Mur'dah, I think she's… dead." Oh… joy? Does that answer whether there's another inside her? Not… really. But at least he can use his beltknife to her belly instead of going the other route?

Mur'dah blinks. "Dead?" He peers at the creature and then back to Raelii, a frown furrowing his brow. "You think there's another one in her? How can she be dead?" Does not compute.

Raelii shrugs, "I have no idea." To either of the questions. "She got out of the pens, my Da said to go find her. I found her here, giving birth and crawled up here just as this came out." She dips her head to give the tiny creature a gentle kiss atop his wet little head. "She's not moving. She didn't spit at me when I poked her. She's kinda stiff…" A beastcrafter, Raelii is not. She's herded them down trail but not in the pregnant/giving birth state. She eyes the camelid's belly. "Maybe it doesn't matter anymore. It's been several minutes." She coughs.

Mur'dah looks back at the creature and shrugs, reaching up to take a jar of redwort from his arrived firelizard. Slathering up his arm, he says nothing as he stretches out behind the mother and sticks his hand all up in her business. So, so gross.

Perhaps the mama camelid is in a coma, not dead. Either way it's a mercy because otherwise there'd be a small war between the dam and Mur'dah in this little patch of ground. Raelii? She just gapes. No, really? says her expression. THIS is what beastcrafters… augh! She makes a strangled sound in her throat, her eyes sort of cross and then she keels over right where she's sitting. Yep, fainted. Out cold with the cria still hugged in her arms.

Mur'dah glances over at Raelii, blinking in surprise when she passes out. Exhaling softly, Mur'dah shakes his head, grimaces, and continues to push his arm up further. Long story short, his fingers find hooves. Grasping them, he pulls on them gently, having to do it all on his own since the mother is…whatever she is. Pulling the little critter into the light he lays it down across his legs and peers at it. Hey. Poke. Wake up. Clearing out its nose and mouth, he cups his hands and blows down the critter's throat, pumps on the ribs a few times, and then smiles when it awakens with a little jerk. Only then does he look back over to Raelii. "Rae? You alright?"

Somewhere during that rescue-breathing Raelii's eyes flutter open, then stare anew at- ICK! But also wow! A second baby! And he's saved its life!!! She will work very hard at not remembering where his hand has been and that his fingers just nose-picked a camelid. "Mmh," she answers with a nod, levering herself up on her elbow with the first-born twin still in her arms. She scoots forward on her butt to peer at the one Mur'dah has, reaches a hand to touch it and see for herself it is okay before she eyes him sidelong with a little wrinkle of her nose. "Did you just…" Which covers the arm up the camelid's backside to kissing her baby, most likely.

Mur'dah looks relieved when she wakes up and scoots over, and he glances down at his…smeared arm. "Yeah." And that covers that. "We need to get them back, right? Get them fed and…stuff? I think there's a bedroll on the back of the saddle of the runner I rode…"

Ew. It certainly does. But the gross-factor doesn't outshine the hero-worship in Raelii's brown eyes. "You saved it," she breathes, awed. Mur'dah's question snaps her out of it somewhat. With a squint at the sky, which is edging towards sunset, she nods, "Aye, we should." Carrying the two tiny cria down the rough hills wouldn't be too terribly difficult, but then there's the mother. Who kicks once, and utters a long moan. She's full-grown, but even so her weight isn't the problem. She doesn't weigh more than Mur'dah but she's got that long neck and legs - the attempt would be awkward in the extreme.

Mur'dah jumps when the mother…comes back to life? He utters a strangled sound and then grimaces, wiping his arm on some dried grass and rocks. It's a pittiful attempt, but still. "We need help," he mutters, "do you have anything to write on?" Even as he's asking he's patting down his pockets.

The camelid must have been unconscious. Perhaps having the stuffing pulled out of her revived her? Raelii squeaks, startled as the mother moves. Thankfully neither of them are on the side of those flailing kicks. At least camelids have toes rather than hooves. Still, in the right (or is that wrong?) place, it could hurt - a lot. She reaches to rip a handful of dead grass, somberly extending it to Mur'dah to take - or rather she tosses it at him because until he washes his hands - or she forgets where those hands have been - she's not touching him. "No," she answers, and there's a beginnings of a smile tweaking her lips. Because the idea of her taking paper would consist of her being organized and planning - things even Raelii is aware she rather sucks at. She might not be able to help with summoning help, but she can get the bedroll Mur'dah mentioned. She places the bundle of curled up baby camelid next to her friend and scrambles down the rockface to get it, and after it's unlashed, she ties the reins around the saddlehorn, turns the runner's head downhill, slaps it's haunch and says, "Go home!" She gets a look 'round its shoulder and an ear-flick but that's about it from the well-trained, placid runner.

Mur'dah sets his baby on the bedroll too, taking the grass and scrubbing at his arm with it. "What did you do that for?" he asks, frowning as he watches their runner plod off. "They're going to panic, think I fell or something…" Though Kalsuoth is dozing happily within seeing distance, so at least when the runner comes back it might not be /that/ much panic? "How will they know where to come? You need a firelizard." Ceasing his rambling, his eyes unfocus and his own firelizard zooms off after the runner.

Raelii watches the runner take all of two steps before it stops and so-patiently waits. He's… too well trained to leave without his rider aboard. Raelii tucks that bedroll under one arm, plants her hands on her hips and watches it for a moment. It's useless. That runner won't leave unless something drastic happens and she knows it, so she scrambles back up into the cleft and spreads out that bedroll. She looks up from settling the baby on it, blinks at Mur'dah's frown. "Because-" And then he finishes. Exactly! "That's why," she explains cheerfully. "They'll know something is wrong. It's a perfect 'Help!' message- or it would be if he'd GO HOME!" she shouts the last two words down at the stationary runner with a frustrated glare at the animal. Back to Mur'dah, she finishes, "…They'll follow the hoofprints, of course!" A firelizard, he says and her lips part to agree but instead the bronze blur of firelizard distracts her. "Can you get it to bite his butt?" Meanwhile Rukbat slips below the horizon and twilight settles over the ridge. It will be dark soon.

Mur'dah shakes his head a bit. "No, I can't. But he can go back to the wagons much faster than the runner can, and lead them back here." Firelizards ftw? Gesturing, he sends a mental 'go on', and the bronze vanishes between. "Let's see if she'll let them nurse?" he asks, peering at the babies and then at the mother's underside.

Raelii stares after the firelizard dubiously. Whether Chapar will follow a firelizard or not is something she seems to doubt. "Well shards. All those nice, sharp teeth and no way to use them!" Oh well, she seems to say as she shrugs and turns to attend the crias' needs. The prone camelid is given an equally dubious look. She hasn't moved more than an ear since that breath and moan. "She'd need to stand up. Do you think we should make her move?" A beastcrafter she is not!

Mur'dah peers at the mom. "But…it's right there.. Why can't they just suckle like canines?" he asks, resisting the urge to grab a teet and see if he can milk her himself. Which just sounds so wrong. Kenpo zips into the camp and hovers, peering around before he begins to chitter and cause a bit of a 'hey look at me!' racket.

Raelii doesn't laugh, although the look on Mur'dah's face is priceless. The situation is a serious one, however, she does smile. "Beeeeecauuuuuse…they're not canines?" She answers it as if it might almost be a trick question. "They always suckle standing and butt their heads into the udder. Da says it's to get the milk to let down. I mean… you could try poking her bag with your fist and see if that works?" After where he's already had his hand, that should be a cakewalk. Whether they can get the crias to defy instinct and nurse like that is beyond her. Jethaniel might want to assign a beastcrafter to the high pasture encampment? Speaking of the encampment, Chapar is still in that shed, finishing up whatever project he's been working on. He's making a racket of his own, the sound of metal striking metal rings out. Chell and Piel are on foot, making a careful, slow sweep through the dusk, herding the humming and oddly-hooting camelids from the pasture into the barn where they'll be safe from prowling felines during the night. Everyone is busy, no one hears the firelizard.

Mur'dah peers curiously at the creature and decides to not try it. Nope. Not going to punch any udders tonight. Back at camp, Kenpo wings into the shed, perching on something within Chapar's field of vision and flapping his wings, chittering away. Hey. Dude. Look at me.

At the beastold, Chapar catches Kenpo's movement out of the corner of his eye and looks. When his caravan neared Weyrs he saw many of them, in the holds not quite so many, but all of them had one thing in common: voracious appetites. The man has never attracted one save for the moochers already attached to someone else. So he grunts, "Shoo, little flitter. I have no scraps for you." Firelizards! He takes a moment to light an oil lamp, then returns to his work.

Up in the steep hills, darkness creeps up the folds and ravines. Shadows move amongst them. One by one stars come out overhead. The camelid mama remains limp; she's not well. Her twins are curled up asleep. Somewhere out there, amongst the nights sounds are pools of silence as insects hush while a figure ghosts by; something is on the move. Raelii knows the High Reaches area. She does not know the Southern Continent. And so she is not overly worried. She looks at Mur'dah and asks curiously, "What's taking him so long?"

Kenpo hisses softly and flies at the man, trying to grab his shoulder and tug. Outside, Kalsuoth glides down to land near the hut, rumbling soft but insistently towards the hut itself. Up in the hills, Mur'dah rubs his face against his sleeve. "Your dad doesn't…isn't listening," he mutters.

At the beasthold, Chapar feels this… weeny tickle on his massive shoulder, glances and spots the tiny claws trying to pullpullpull. Huh. "Persistent little critter," he grunts, waving a meaty hand to aid the shooing of the firelizard on his way. Oh, nothing to hurt the little bronze; he's incredibly gentle for a giant of a man, merely to brush him off and wave the air around himself to discourage the bronze from landing on him. Meanwhile he's stopped hammering the metal and so the rumble from outside, soft as it is, vibrates his eardrums from such large vocal chords. He pokes his head out to see Kalsuoth sitting there. Oh great! Now the dragon wants to be fed. Chapar is respectful, but firm. "You cannae have my camelids, Lad. You will have to await your supper for your rider's return." Whiiich, with a glance at the darkening sky, had better be soon, for his daughter being out all night with the boy will bring certain…awkward…suppositions from Chapar. "Ye'll tell him not to roll my baby girl in the hay, hey?" He's mostly worrying aloud. He has no idea if dragons pass along messages verbatim or what.

Up in the cleft, Raelii just smiles. "He's like that," she notes sagely.

Kalsuoth huffs, amused, though who knows if Chapar can decypher dragon noises. Rumbling, he turns and tilts his head towards the mountains. Takes a step, looks back, rumbles again. Carefully, he extends a slight feeling of need. Of urgency. Of something not quite right. The deft telepathy that is subtle enough to not cause discomfort. He takes another step, stops, looks back. Another rumble and a jerk of his head. Kenpo swoops down to try and grasp his tunic and tug again.

At the beasthold, there are people who are impervious to dragon telepathy, or, well dull-as-a-brick sorts who cannot suss out the emotions shared via it, let along decipher a dragon's body language. Chapar is one of those - except he's not dull-brained, simply moves by a set of pre-conditioned rules and rather inflexible. The dragon and firelizard are hungry, he assumes and thus any anxiety displayed hinges on their wish for their person to return and feed them. His work is imperative, and thus he stops paying the two draconic kin attention, ignoring poor Kenpo's intervention as he would a v'tol trying to light upon his tunic. The hammering resumes.

Up in the cleft, darkness grows and Raelii, not unaccustomed to being out in it seems unconcerned, save for the camelid. "She probably needs to sleep, poor thing. Giving birth isn't easy." Even if one of them was pulled out for her! She curls a little closer to the twins, intending to keep them warm in the night air. In the rocky outcroppings above them a tiny pebble, dislodged by something, goes rattling downslope.

Kalsuoth /huffs/ and takes to wing with a disgruntled rumble. Thick headed man. Fine then. They'll take care of it themselves. As the brown wings towards their location, Mur'dah peers upwards as the stone tumbles. "Likely," he agrees quietly, reaching out to touch the mother's flank to make sure she's still warm and breathing.

The mother camelid is warm, breathing and asleep apparently, for the scent wafting downslope does not rouse her, when normally it would send her into a frenzy. Unaware of either things in the shadows (though the pebble has Raelii peering into the darkness for a few ticks), or the unsuccessful attempt down at the camp resulting in Kalsuoth winging their way, the teen assumes they're stuck for awhile, possibly until daylight. She reaches her arms around the curled up camelid babies to help warm them and turns her head to study Mur'dah in the dim starlight, silent for a few moments before she comes out with it, "You've been giving me one-word answers for awhile. Is something…wrong?"

Mur'dah peers at the slope and then, distracted, he looks back at Raelii with a little smile. "Just trying to get us back to camp, is all," he answers. "Kalsuoth is on his way, I figure maybe he can carry the mother, and we'll ride him. The runner…will hopefully find his own way home."

Back to the safety of that beasthold would be good but, "Should she be moved?" Well, he's a beastcrafter, he probably knows. She seems genuinely baffled by Mur'dah's distant manner, but doesn't press. Raelii simply nods. All it will take is a dragon backwinging in the dark to send that runner home, most likely and so Raelii says, "When Kalsuoth gets here, he'll probably light out and beat us there." That's her sense of humor peeking through her own concern for the situation.

Mur'dah isn't a beastcrafter. He doesn't know anything. "I…don't know. That's why I wanted your dad here. Maybe…what if you went back on Kalsuoth? Ride home and get your father? I'll stay here with them all. Then your dad can tell us what to do." Fetch the grown up, that's a great plan right?

He's… not? Raelii assumes if he's been working with the Cold Stone Holder and his camelids, then he Knows Things. The plan suggested as her agape. Not merely her riding Kalsuoth by herself but… She can't help it. The mental picture she has starts her snickering. "Bring… my da. He's seen me ride runners. I doubt he's about to trust my driving a dragon in the dark when I'm not a rider." They do need an adult, probably. Eventually one will get there.

Mur'dah shakes his head, looking up as Kalsuoth arrives, the brown backwinging down below and rumbling up at them. "Bring /someone/ who knows what they're doing then, okay? And Kalsuoth will listen to you, just talk out loud to him. He's okay with it." And so is Mur'dah, obviously. Desperate times? "Go on, I'll be here."

Thaaat does it! As a big black shape materializes, backwings his dragon-y scent over him and rumbles, the well-trained runner whickers in terror and goes tearing downslope towards home. Hopefully he gets there in one piece and doesn't break his neck. Raelii can't exactly watch him go, but she does listen to his hoofbeats fade into the night. "O-okay," she says doubtfully to Mur'dah. Who to get? Chapar isn't a beastcrafter either. Her brothers? Nah. They'd make things worse. Lei? She's great with an iron skillet? "Keep them warm," she instructs, reluctantly withdrawing her arms from around the twins. Obediently, she scrambles down the incline and approaches Kalsuoth. Juuuust talk to him, right? "H-hi there," she says pertly, "Have I told you what a handsome dragon you are?" Because flattery will get you places, right? Ensure cooperation and all that? How does a person ask a dragon for permission to take them without their rider? Raelii has noooo idea! But her voice clearly carries up into that cleft where Mur'dah can hear her.

Kalsuoth rumbles an apology to the panicked runner. Sorry, buddy. Watching it go, his head swings around to Raelii. Hi! Dropping his muzzle, he wuffles over her happily and then offers his foreleg to her. Clearly 'come on up!'. He has no issues carrying another, while his rider gathers the twins close and wraps his jacket around them both, keeping them as warm as he can with his body curled to protect them from the elements.

Right, so Raelii hehs to herself and pats Kalsouth's muzzle. "So we need your help," she chatters, perhaps that's adrenalin aiding her animation. "I need you to give me a ride." Where to? She's still… deciding. The brown seems amenable though and so since there's no growling at her, she scrambles up his side. At first she fumbles with the buckles, unaccustomed to using them since she's only ridden a few times…once? in her life. She gets it though and only then does she lean over and ask the brown dragon, "Please take me to Xanadu Weyr!" in as firm a tone as she can use. Get someone who 'knows what they're doing'. Realii can do that!

Kalsuoth's head swings around to peer back at her, silent for a moment. Xanadu? Dragon reaches to rider, rider blinks in surprise, then reaches back. Whatever she wants. Xanadu it is then, as Kalsuoth spreads his wings with a contented rumble. He crouches, muscles tensed beneath him, and then he lifts into the sky.

Oh sweet! It's like a magic carpet from the harpers' tales! Raelii would be tickled pink if the situation were not so grave. So rather than beam, she reaches a hand to patpapt Kalsuoth's shoulder as he rises into the night sky. "You are wonderful," she breathes and really, really means it. "Take me to the clearing please." It's a big Weyr, best pinpoint a landing spot, yeah? She grips the flightlines and rather than sitting back to enjoy the flight, she leans forward into the wind to see where they're going. They're only a two day walk from Xanadu so it shouldn't be long until they get there, though she has no problem at all with going Between. She has no jacket, but hey. She'll be fine!

Kalsuoth's mind reaches gently for Raelii's, a subtle touch with a warning chill. He uses no words, but he feels that she at least is perceptive enough to pick up on the warning. Unlike her father. He takes them between with his rider's help, backwinging to land in the clearing. A ways away, up on that mountain, Mur'dah closes his eyes against the dull throb that begins with his dragon so far from him, but it's tolerable. They've been further apart than this.

Back at Xanadu Weyr, ACK!!! It's COLD. Raelii's dressed for summertime, sleeveless shirt and shorts. Ohwell. When they land in the clearing, her teeth are chattering but the evening air is summery - she'll warm up…eventually. Stiffly she climbs down and with a, "I'll be right back," scampers inside.

Kalsuoth and Mur'dah both wait. Doot doot doot. Hopefully she'll grab a coat?

That would involve preplanning. Something Raelii's not…uh…very good at.

At Xanadu Weyr

Kalsuoth calls to a friend of his, asking his rider to bring a spare jacket. So when Raelii eventually gets back, one will be resting across his foreleg for her. Tada!

It's evening, shortly after dinnertime has ended when Raelii skitters into the caverns, has a rather distracted look 'round and, not spotting the person she's looking for, heads with barely a pause for the administration wing. She's been back here once… for her interview and though the office doors are closed, work ended for the day, she'll check here first on the off chance that the person she needs is still inside working. Yeah, she doesn't knock, just attempts to enter. If that door is locked she'll thump into it, if not, she'll stumble in, flail for footing and stammer an appeal. But that's preplanning. Raelii doesn't preplan. She just… acts.

Even on those occasions when planning occurs, it may be altered by unforeseen events. A lack of the planning phase simply means that all events are unforeseen. For instance, the door being locked and unyielding to Raelii's approach. If she had proceeded more cautiously, she might have noticed the lack of light from beneath it, but she did not. Thump.

Details! Raelii's too distraught to notice them. And of course, she's even more rattled after colliding with the office door. Time is of the essence! Mur'dah wouldn't have sent her off on his dragon if it weren't, she's certain of that. And so back out into the caverns she darts, asking hurriedly for directions and then… she's off again.

She passes Kalsuoth at a run, patting him absently and breathlessly bidding him to, "Follow me!" as she speeds by. She doesn't really even look at the dragon. Multi-tasking, also not her forte tonight.

She'd been back there twice, though the last time wasn't the best time. When she breezes past Kalsuoth, the brown rumbles in surprise and, grabbing the borrowed jacket in his teeth, hop-hobbles after her with a curious rumble.

Yeaaah, Raelii would just as soon forget that other time, likely the current situation has driven it clean out of her mind. Should she have run into the Weyrleader back in that admin wing, she'd be rendered to incoherent squeaking. It's really fortunate she didn't because that'd be no help at all. So anyway people are treated to a comical sight, a girl apparently being chased by an awkwardly-hop-running dragon. What? Aren't they maintaining the feeding pens these days? THUMPA-THUMPA-THUMPA they barrel past cottages and pedestrians. No one gets run over, right?

Not by Kalsuoth! The brown might be big and lumbering and awkward, but he's not a runaway dragon! But where /are/ they going?

There's another door at the end of her sprint - this one takes her through the meadow - which she really should knock upon, intended at some point to do so and then… other thoughts have whisked that intention elsewhere. Good intentions. You know how those are? Raelii is breathless as she zeroes in on her target and… forgets to knock, bursts through and is four steps inside before she realizes it. Oops! Ohwell! Too late now. She takes a wild look around, and calls, "Steward Jethaniel?" Duh. Who else would be in the private residence? But Raelii is too rattled to think who.

Who else would be there? …the steward's wife, for one. It is her private residence as well as his. At first, however, it may appear that the residence is entirely unoccupied. It does not appear to have been abandoned for long, if it has in fact been abandoned; there are still lights on, and the door wasn't locked. Perhaps it should have been, but any intentions to do so also encountered the peril that often intercepts intentions before they become manifest in the world. There's no immediate answer to the call, but after a few moments, there's a motion at the top of the stairs. Jethaniel emerges. He is dressed, but his shirt and hair are both in a state of disarray that would be inappropriate to the office… were he at the office. He is not; he is at home, and he peers down the stairs to discern who has come to disturb him here. A face he has encountered before, with the sort of expression he encounters regularly from those who have problems which they wish resolved. Jethaniel is not at the office, but problems of sufficient magnitude are still part of his job when they emerge outside of business hours, and as such, he takes a breath, lets it out, and says, "Yes?"

Oh, now Weyr problems come bursting through the door rather than knocking on it at all hours of the day and night? Greaaaaaat! There's a touseled Darsce joining Jethaniel at the head of the stairs standing on tiptoe to peer over his shoulder and down upon the hapless trespasser. She, unlike the steward, is not dressed but at least she's taken the time to throw a silky wrap around her slim form. The next interloper might not be so lucky! The wife of Jethaniel takes a long look at the flustered teen, smirks and leans indolently against her husband. "This had better be good," she drawls. Because her plans were awesome.

Raelii stares up at the couple wide-eyed and then just gasps her plight, "He said get someone who knows what he's doing and that'd be you, Sir." Hah, not the woman by his side. "Please hurry, we need you up at the high meadows right away! There's a problem. Idon'tknowwhat'swrongbutweneedsomeone whoknowshowtofixit." Aaaand she's out of breath.

Jethaniel reaches back to brush his fingers against Darsce's side as she joins him. It is, perhaps, associated to a certain reluctance to depart her presence. While he is not privy to the precise details of Darsce's plans, he is sufficiently knowledgeable as to their nature that he is quite certain he would enjoy discovering them in further detail. Ideally, he would like to discover as many details as possible, but there is a problem: Raelii. More precisely, the problem of which Raelii has come here to inform him. Her explanation of it is somewhat lacking in details. It is also somewhat lacking in oxygen, due to the likely-excessive value placed on providing it in an expeditious manner. It does, however, appear to be considered urgent - at least by her, as well as whoever arranged to transport her from the high meadows to here. Jethaniel frowns, thoughtful, and considers the breathless Raelii for a long moment before he gives a single nod. "Very well." He turns away from her, moving slowly to permit Darsce to adjust her lean against him. His head tilts slightly down, but this gesture is not a nod, despite the similarity. "I should go." His voice is quiet, and his arms slip around her, holding her just above the waist. He is, evidently, reluctant to depart despite the knowledge that he should. "The appropriate settling of the herd is important. I… should assess the situation." He ducks his head just a little further. "I will be back," he says, and his head lifts just enough to seek a kiss before he disentangles and departs. He is slightly hesitant in the endeavor, perhaps expecting Darsce's frustration at her plans being interrupted, but he is unwilling to depart without at least making the attempt. Having done so, however, he'll follow Raelii out, grabbing his jacket along the way for the ride back to those meadows and whatever problem is, allegedly, of sufficient priority to interrupt him now.

Right. Darsce can't listen that fast. She'll get details later. It's obvious that the teen thinks it's urgent and so she'll reluctantly allow Jethaniel to go. She returns his kiss and allows him to slip away. "You can assess me later," she drawls with sultry promise, flicks a less-than-pleased look at Raelii but thankfully spares her a displeasured speech before drifting back to the bedroom.

Raelii hops from foot to foot while the couple leave-takes. Sheesh! Hurry UP! She does edge towards that door she'd left open so when Jethaniel is ready, she trots outside where a dragon awaits. No rider in sight. There's… a jacket hanging from his teeth? Huh. Blink. What the-? "Kalsuoth," she says breathlessly to the steward by way of explanation. "We have permission." And without further ado, unsure what's with the jacket, she scoots up the dragon's side and fumbles with those buckles again.

Jethaniel can't listen that fast either. He heard 'high meadows' and a great deal of urgency. Enough so that he's willing to depart, after that kiss and an assurance to Darsce, "In whatever manner you desire." It's not urgent enough that he's willing to rush his departure, though once he's left the house and shut the door behind him, his pace is brisk enough… until it abruptly stops. There's a dragon, yes; as might be expected. The lack of rider is significantly less expected. "Ah. Rider Mur'dah…" is not present. Were he to be so, this would be significantly more sensical. "I… would not expect Kalsuoth to engage in activities he did not approve of, nor without the permission, at least implicit, of his rider." This still does not entirely answer the question. In fact, it raises further concerns, but as Jethaniel expects the most expeditious manner in which to obtain answers is to proceed forward, he does so. He has, at least, become familiar enough with mounting dragons to do so without the assistance of a rider. He will check his own straps. He will also check Raelii's. He will remind himself that dragons are sapient entities and capable of guiding themselves without their rider.

Kalsuoth swings his head around to try and gently thwap her with the jacket. Here. Take it. He'll drop it on her if he can. It's only a /little/ damp. And…is there someone else? He'll help them up too, waiting until she says they're ready to go.

Raelii gets a jacket dropped on her by Kalsuoth. Whose is it? She'll ask Mur'dah later. She puts it on, heedless of the soggy collar. She and the passenger are buckled in amidst a few echanges that may or may not make much sense. "Let's go back," she says to the brown. And again she's leaning forward to peer ahead. Trying not to fret.

Highlands - Rocky Cleft

Kalsuoth rumbles reassuringly and surges into the sky, and with another brief mental brush of warning, winks between back to where they came from. Gliding for a moment, the brown backwings to a landing at the base of the rise. "Everything okay?" Mur'dah's voice calls out, right where she left him.

Kalsuoth may be returning, but Jethaniel's arrival here is not a reversion to the prior state of the universe. It is, in fact, new, and as the brown glides to that landing, he surveys the area. His goal is to ascertain the reason for his presence here; Mur'dah's goal, as expressed in his statement, appears compatible. Jethaniel would, in fact, like to know if everything is okay, and he observes the brownrider for a moment before looking to Raelii as his source of information for the fact that things were, purportedly, not okay in an urgent fashion.

They land not in the encampment by the high pastures but somewhere in the wild tumble of highland hills, rough country. There's not a camelid in sight. But this does not stop Raelii. She fumbles with her buckles and all but tumbles down Kalsuoth's side, only thinking to pat him once she's down there waiting for the steward to dismount. "Thanks!" she tells the brown. She really, really means it. "Everything's… going to be?" she hazards a guess to the Mur'dah-voice. "This way," she says, still breathless and will, once Jethaniel is on the ground, attempt to lead him up a steep incline and into a rocky cleft that forms a small. protected bowl. There, seen in the dim starlight, on the ground is a prone camelid and two tiny newborn baby camelids - crias they are called. "She birthed one, Mur'dah, um, dragged the other one out." How? Gak. If the steward asks… he'll be told.

"Great, because I'm getting rather uncomfortable and I would /really/ like to wash my arm," comes Mur'dah's voice, drifting through the darkness. He didn't get eaten by a wild animal. Awesome. Then there's a pause, and a startled, "Jethaniel?" That was Kalsuoth tattling. "What…why…uh. How…is this going to help?"

The darkness makes it somewhat difficult to obtain a clear understanding of the situation, but Jethaniel dismounts from the dragon, providing Kalsuoth with a nod of acknowledgment before regarding Raelii once more. "…ideally," he agrees. Whether she will be okay if the situation is not actually one which requires him at this juncture is a matter for some debate. Mur'dah's question is an excellent one, and Jethaniel's brows arch as he follows her up the trail and into that cleft. That he is here is, however, incontrovertible, and he inclines his head to Mur'dah as the brownrider's shape becomes visible in the darkness. Jethaniel studies the scene, regarding the camelid and those two newborns. They certainly do appear to be organic in nature, including some of the messier elements thereof. He nods, glances to Mur'dah for the brownrider's name when it appears in the explanation, nods again. He may hypothesize as to the how; Mur'dah's desire to wash his arm constitutes supporting evidence. Jethaniel does not see the need to query that part of things. He… does not see the need for his presence, either, but his tone remains mild as he prompts, "And?"

Whether Raelii will be okay? Darsce may want to strangle her for interrupting her… plans… after all is said and done, but… The teen still needs to catch her breath after all of that sprinting and door-bursting-through (okay one INTO) that she did back at Xanadu, so for a moment all she does is breathe, chest heaving. How's the steward's presence going to help? She drops to her knees beside the mother camelid and eyes Mur'dah in some confusion. "You said to go get someone who knows what he's doing," she answers him. Her hands reach for the prone camelid, who hasn't so much as moved a muscle, even though a dragon has landed nearby. Her hazel eyes lift to Jethaniel. "You know my da's not a beastcrafter. He's a trader. We all are." Start at the beginning Raelii. She takes a deep breath, "She-" the camelid, "-got out of the pen, my da sent me to find her. I got here just after she popped the first baby out and then she stopped moving. Mur'dah came looking for me and…" Yeah, delivered the second one. "We don't know if she can be moved, my da won't know either." Her eyes are wide, trusting. But he will, right? After all, he hired them, set up the program and… "And… help?"

Mur'dah watches Raelii move with the moon and the starlight, and then his eyes flick to Jethaniel. And he sighs. This isn't helping at all. The brownrider gets to his feet, wiping his forehead with his clean arm. But he does glance at Jethaniel before he makes his own moves, because who knows? Maybe the incomprehensible Steward will have a plan.

Jethaniel's eyebrows rise at the concept of him knowing what to do. "…not… my domain of expertise," he murmurs. It's not really directed to anyone. Had he known the situation before arriving, he might have redirected Raelii, and she would not be at risk of Darsce's ire. However… he was not, and as such, he is now here. If presence in a situation granted expertise, then that would be sufficient. It is not. He nods slightly to the fact that Raelii's father is not a beastcrafter, and yet fails to be entirely enlightened. "…I am also not a beastcrafter." He's a technician and an administrator. He's also sufficiently patient to listen to Raelii's story, his gaze settling on the camelid as he does so. Help? "You may wish to consider how to hand-rear a camelid." His gaze flicks to those crias, then back to the mother. Jethaniel frowns. "If she will not rouse for her offspring, the question… may be largely irrelevant."

At Mur'dah's sigh, Raelii's gaze shifts from Jethaniel to her friend. She half-frowns, almost asks him what's the matter. Instead, the steward speaks and she is forestalled. Not…a…beastcrafter. Not that she didn't assume he was but, yeah, maybe she shouldn't have panicked so much she couldn't give him a coherent explanation before dragging him here. Hand-raise? "But she's alive," Raelii protests and then draws a deeper breath to launch into why they should save the camelid's life. She never gets to it for there's a growl from the shadows. Deep within the rocky cracks where a dragon cannot reach and another answering snarl from the cleft where they all climbed in. Felines! Drawn by the scent of the birthing.

"Shit." That's all Mur'dah has to say the second he hears that growl. /Those/ growls. Double shit. He looks around their perfect little feline food bowl - whose bright idea was this again? - and turns to Raelii, shoving one of the babies at her. "Here," he says, grabbing the bottom of her coat and fastening it tight all the way up to her chin, so the little critter is penned inside the jacket, safe and snug and warm. That's one, at least. "Climb," he orders, pointing to the rocks. Below, Kalsuoth rumbles his discontent and surges aloft, wings beating at the air as he rises to hover above them, near the rocks where Mur'dah is telling Raelii to climb, snarling at the still hidden felines below. "Can you climb?" he asks, looking doubtfully at Jethaniel even as he's drawing his dagger and scooping up the second baby.

Jethaniel glances to the prone camelid once more. She is alive, yes. He acknowledges this fact with a small nod. How long she will remain so is being cast into question, and that growl - those growls - explain why far more effectively than Jethaniel is capable of doing. Next time, perhaps Raelii will plan better… or at all. Jethaniel is slower to react than Mur'dah, looking in the direction of the sounds instead of merely assessing the situation by hearing them. In the darkness of the night, his strategy is not notably effective, but Mur'dah's words draw the Steward's attention back to him. Jethaniel blinks, then answers. "Somewhat." He looks to those rocks to conduct a further assessment, despite the continued additional challenge of the darkness.

"Whaaaat was that?" Raelii asks the both of them, wide eyes zeroing in on the direction - directions of those growl-snarls. They don't have anything in the north - even on the trackless wilderness they caravanned through that sounds like that! Whose idea was this? Why the errant mama camelid's of course! Raelii didn't plan this - the dratted animal escaped! She's also slow to react, mainly because…trader life hasn't prepared her for something like this. So while Mur'dah stuffs that cria into her jacket, she is silent, her arms wrap underneath it after a few beats to keep it from slipping out of the bottom as she rises to her feet. Climb? She can, but with an animal in her, ah someone's jacket? One of her arms shift further underneath the warm bundle while the other reaches for the rough boulder she stands beside. The way up is nearly vertical, but there are handholds. The soles of her boots are the type for gripping unstable terrain. And yet, she hesitates. "How you gonna get her up?" The teen's chintilt gestures to the prone camelid. Her gaze goes to Jethaniel, the adult in the group. In the dark shadows of the rocky cleft-cracks there are whispers of movement.

"Climb, Raelii, now," Mur'dah says firmy, as the growls approach closer. Gleaming golden eyes shine from the shadows. Hesitant with a dragon so close, but that prone camelid is so, so tempting. Above, Kalsuoth hovers, hind legs occasionally touching the small stone peak as he holds his position, the glow of his eyes lighting the scene below. If they can get up there they can scale the brown's side. But it's a matter of getting up there to reach him, as the area is too narrow for his wings. Mur'dah gives his brother in law a nudge. "Up, up, up," he urges, shoving the other baby into his own coat, tucking the ends into his trousers to make a little pouch to keep his hands free as he holds the dagger at the ready. He doesn't /really/ know how to use it, so hopefully he won't have to.

It was an incentive to climb. Surely even on the northern continent Raelii's encountered escaped canines or porcines gone feral, and Jethaniel's gaze flicks to her as he answers, "Felines. Apex predators." And a camelid, weakened from giving birth, is fairly optimal prey. The creatures stalking them may have never seen a camelid before, but the scents and sounds are similar enough to their known targets be an effective lure, and the southern continent's big cats are nothing if not intelligent and adaptable. They're also quite effective at climbing, though they're not well suited to sheer cliffs… and the prone camelid may serve as a distraction, though not in any manner which Raelii is likely to find satisfactory. He glances to Mur'dah for that nudge, but Raelii's eyes are on him for that question, and his gaze returns to her. "I am not." That is likely not the answer she wanted; it is not the answer he would like to give, but he does not have a better one, and his gaze remains steady. "I am going to inform her her children will have a good life." The one squirming in Raelii's borrowed jacket, the one in Mur'dah's coat. "I would prefer it to be true." Which is why he points Raelii toward that cliff, and the escape route which only some of them may take.

Sure she has, but escaped canines usually ran in packs and tore through the countryside barking and yelping - you could hear them coming a mile away and their own canines wouldn't allow them near the caravan. Porcines grunted. These growls and snarls are vastly different and draw a shudder from Raelii. The answer…'apex'… well, that part confuses her, but 'predator' is enough to make Raelii swallow - hard. That and Mur'dah's firm command turn her towards the climb. She takes a handhold, but hesitates, turning her head back as her eyes drop to that camelid. It weighs close to one hundred-fifty pounds, there's no way any of them, even all together could hoist her awkward, limp body up that rocky rise. Still, she protests, "But we can't just… leave her." Stubborn Raelii. She bends to scoop up a stone and hurls it towards the cleft where that feline lurks. It clatters uselessly even though she's got an arm to pitch it hard. There's another snarl in there, this time closer, angrier.

"Shard it all, Raelii, /go/," Mur'dah snaps when she throws something at it. He looks again to Jethaniel. Waiting. "Are you coming with us?" Surely being married to his sister isn't /that/ bad.

Aren't they all waiting? Mur'dah's hardly going to be climbing very well with a dagger and a coatful of cria, and Raelii may have put her hand to the rocks, but she's more interested in throwing them at the felines in a futile attempt to drive them away than ascending. Jethaniel frowns to Mur'dah's jab. "You could lower a rope." And lift the camelid? Perhaps. Or perhaps Jethaniel simply intends to continue waiting… at least until someone else starts moving.

A rope! Who's got a rope? Raelii doesn't! She cranes her neck to peer upwards in the dark towards Kalsuoth. She has no idea, but the thought that there might be one on the transport dragon's harness, coupled with Mur'dah's irate tone gets her moving. Aaaaand possibly there's some impetus provided by the feline. Fear is, after all, a great motivator. It's slow and awkward because she's got one arm cupped around the lump inside that jacket she's wearing, the other gripping the rockface this time while her boots feel for toeholds. They can just leave that half-dead camelid. They should just leave her. Only Raelii isn't thinking along those lines.

Mur'dah is waiting for Jethaniel to go ahead of him. "We're not lowering a rope," he snaps, irritated that the Steward is just /standing/ there as the growls approach. One feline, the boldest of the pair, edges out into the moonlight, its ginger fur edged with silver as it scents the air. The camelid has most of its attention, but the humans…they do as well. "Climb, Jeth, I'll come up behind you." Somehow. With its partner out in the open the other emerges from the cleft, scenting the air and flexing its talons against the stone with a soft clicking sound. Another snarl is answered with a high pitched call from the other, enough to make the hairs on the back of Mur'dah's neck stand on end, and Kalsuoth to roar above. The felines shrink back, but only momentarily before they edge forward a bit more towards the doomed animal. The brown lands on the narrow rock, his muzzle dipping low as his wings gently fan the air, as lightly as he can to keep himself mobile, as he stretches his muzzle down towards Raelii. Just grab onto a nostril or a tooth, he won't mind.

When Raelii starts moving, so does Jethaniel. That's who he was trying to motivate… even if Mur'dah promptly denies the impetus he intended to provide. If someone who was capable of expeditious ascent had done so promptly, perhaps those less skilled at climbing could now be rising on a dragon-carried rope, but that is not the way this dynamic (and rather hazardous) situation has unfolded. Jethaniel glances to Mur'dah, but though he frowns, he makes a distint lack of comment, instead striding to the cliff-face and beginning to climb. He is not an expert at this, but he was not born in technical lab nor an office. He has climbed rocks before. More recently, he's scrambled around on roofs and among the turbines of large machines. The skills are analogous, and he makes decent progress.

Grab a nostril!!! Riiight. Though Raelii might, in these circumstances, consider it, she does not reach for Kalsuoth's nostril. Mainly because she's kept sending peeks back down over her shoulder and her last glance has given her the view of at least one of the felines. She freezes, partway up. This time, it's she who yells, "Hurry up and climb!" at the other two. The mother camelid is on her own, now that she's seen the felines - the size of them - she's rearranged her priorities. There's nothing like in-field training, eh? Kalsuoth's roar nearly sends her tumbling from the rockface, she wobbles, her fingers slipping along the narrow, slanted ledge they've gripped.

Mur'dah darts a last look at the canines and sheathes his dagger, limping after Jethaniel. Sprained ankle or eaten by felines? He'd rather have his limb damaged by fleeing than by teeth and talon, thanks. As Jethaniel climbs, so does Mur'dah, nimble save for the awkwardness of the creature in his coat, and less use of one leg. At least he's got both his hands free. Above, Kalsuoth rumbles encouragement, shifting slightly on that narrow perch, placing one front leg partly over the edge to give a more solid hand hold.

There is indeed nothing like in-field training. There may, however, be a wide variety of things better than it. Jethaniel, as he climbs, is considering these possibilities. Further consideration will come later, once he is securely at his desk. For the moment, however… he climbs, feeling for handholds in the darkness and stretching himself between them to ascend. He partially catches up to Raelii as she hesitates, one hand lifting as if preparing to catch as she wobbles… which would likely only result in both of them cracking their heads against the rock below and becoming food for felines.

Later Raelii may recall Mur'dah's limping or awkward climbing and ask what he's done to his ankle. Right now? She's got that rush of adrenalin that aids her focus in maintaining her grip on the rocks and resuming her climb. She only moves on when the two of them are scaling out of reach of those felines and then, no, she can't look back down at the helpless camelid. At least there's a mercy she's unconscious, though a dagger in the right spot might have better ensured she does not arouse to suffer. This lesson, while perhaps not learned by the best method, will stick with Raelii; henceforth she will keep a beltknife with her - and likely not go tracking escaped camelids alone. The entire trader family may have herded camelids downtrail but they could use some beastcraft basics.
Mur'dah considered it, when he drew his knife, but there wasn't the time and to be honest, he hesitated. Too late now, as he lumbers up the rocks after Jethaniel. Once Raelii reaches the top, Kalsuoth is there to help her mount up, the brown rumbling soft encouragement and praise.

Beastcraft lessons can, and likely will, be arranged. Jethaniel has been reminded that the minders hired for those camelid herds are somewhat lacking in that regard, and while there are designated experts, apparently their knowledge has not yet trickled out sufficiently to the rest. This problem, now that he is aware of it, may be corrected, but first there's the rest of the climb to make. He does so in silence save for puffs of breath from the exertion, and as he reaches the top he pauses to look back on the crevice. It is likely to be sufficiently safe, in the direct shadow of Kalsuoth's wings; even if one of the felines is driven away by the other, the dragon will provide a deterrent. So Jethaniel stops, and looks, frowning down into the darkness.

Raelii reaches the top of that cliff, and when she does, she's a bit shaky with the effort of having climbed one-armed. She pauses on the lip of that rockface, braced on one elbow, forehead nearly touching the ground as she rests, catches her breath for a few beats, then heaves herself over the top carefully so as not to crush the critter inside that jacket. Down below the sounds of snarls take on a liquid bubble as teeth rend flesh and find blood vessels, severing them. It's mercifully short, the kicks of legs reflex rather than fight, for the camelid doesn't appear aware of her own demise. Raelii hears, but does not watch. Instead she re-gains her feet unsteadily, reaching blindly for Kalsuoth to steady herself, gets that nostril (eww!) and is hoisted aboard before she's aware of the intention. She seats herself with a squeak and places a hand on warm hide to steady herself, leans to see where the others are.

Mur'dah hauls himself up carefully with a grimace as the sounds make themselves heard below. He glances back briefly and then nods to Jethaniel. "Up we go," he murmurs, climbing up into Kalsuoth's straps and reaching forward to gently buckle Raelii in. Giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze, he waits until they're all situated. Then Kalsuoth kicks into the sky and wings his way back towards the camp, backwinging to a neat landing. "I'm going to drop her off and then I'll take you back to the weyr, sir," he murmurs softly to the Steward, dismounting and offering Raelii help getting down should she need it.

There is not, given the darkness, much to be seen. However, the sounds are sufficient to convey the general concept. Jethaniel is not particularly hurried in mounting. Perhaps he requires a moment to catch his breath after the exertion of the climb; perhaps he is considering on the ramifications of these events. He does, after Raelii and Mur'dah have mounted, also climb onto Kalsuoth's back and fasten his straps for the ride back to the camp. While he does not, during the trip, inquire as to their destination, he begins unfastening his own straps once they land, and Mur'dah's words make his eyebrows arch, accompanied by a frown. "I will be a moment," he informs the brownrider as he slides down from Kalsuoth's back. Why? Because he's going to have a talk with whoever's in charge (is that still Chapar? Or has he managed to get someone with more beastcraft credentials to station themselves here by now? Jethaniel might remember that fact if it weren't for the hour and fading adrenaline rush) about why they aren't going to be sending people off alone, because the southern continent is more hazardous in some regards than the northern one. It will, at least, be a relatively quick conversation. He is disinclined to conduct a full review or initiate substantive changes to procedures tonight; that can wait for morning and a more reasoned analysis.

Beating them into the encampment by several minutes is the runner, arriving wild-eyed and blowing with the reins obviously wrapped around the saddle horn so as not to snag on bushes. Chapar had been just exiting the shed, with a blink and a squint at how late it's gotten. And his daughter, the rider still out there? The man can get side-tracked and lost in his projects, perhaps a touch oblivious to dragon and firelizard communication, but is isn't careless. Merely… unfamiliar with the habits of wild felines. It is full-on night time. That's when wild creatures come out. And so while he's bellowing for Piel to tend to the runner, he's calling for help from whomever else is stationed up here - and Chell - to come help. He's got a long club hanging on the shed door - which he grabs - and a wicked-looking hunting blade strapped to his belt and he's not waiting for reinforcements, so they'd better hurry up and join him!

The sudden and unexpected landing of Kalsuoth terrifies the exhausted runner anew. It whinnies and gallomps back behind the barn - have fun Piel. Raelii, still cradling that cria beneath the jacket - this time with both arms, slide-tumbles down singing out into the mayhem, "We found her, Da!" She'll break the news of the dam's loss to him gently. In stages when he's calmed down. And since Mur'dah has mentioned taking Jethaniel back, her arm opens with a silent offer to take that second cria for him. Only Jethaniel passes her, getting a blink from Raelii as he passes, headed for her father. Oops? She's… in trouble, isn't she? She sidles towards Mur'dah and whispers, "Run, run while you still can." Okay, yes, she's being melodramatic, but it usually works for her!

Mur'dah dismounts carefully, and once Jethaniel is also down, Kalsuoth moves back a ways, settling down where hopefully he won't be an issue to any more livestock. "Yes, sir," he says to Jethaniel, before his eyes shift to Chapar, and then to Raelii. "I..can't?" he says with a faint smile. In more ways than one, as he shifts his weight to his left leg subtly. Opening the top few buttons of his coat, he looks down at the cria he cradles, reaching in to gently rub its cheek and get his finger nibbled on for his trouble. "They're hungry I'm sure. Is…can we feed them while we wait?" he says quietly, not ready to give the creature up /just/ yet. His arm was in unholy places for this baby, he's going to see to its comfort!

It certainly appears plausible that Chapar is still in charge, and if not, he is assuredly an interested party. He is also, given his size, an easily identified party. As such, Jethaniel heads toward him, leaving behind the two with the crias. The panicked runner draws a frowning glance from the Steward. It is not, however, sufficient to distract him for long, particularly given that the runner returns to that barn. Chapar does not, and Jethaniel approaches, slowing as he enters speaking distance. "Herder Chapar." A trader no more, though - as he has been recently reminded - not a beastcrafter. Jethaniel does not immediately close the remainder of the distance, perhaps due to that club's presence. "Your daughter is back." As he no doubt determined from the cheery sound of her voice, but the assurance may nevertheless have utility. "Do there exist other known issues?"

Chapar is moving, his aim to head for the break in the fence, the point of origin he knows Raelii started tracking the escaped camelid from. He's passed by the runner, the frightened animal astute enough to veer around the mountain of a man. The squint Chapar directs at the sky and then the folks dismounting melts into relief. Perhaps he's not noticing there is no camelid on board? Jethaniel is there then, and the man redirects his gaze. Herder… ah. Yes. He isn't a trader anymore, is he? The gears, they work but slowly from 'everything's fine' to 'MY DAUGHTER'S IN PERIL!!!' to 'everything's fine' again. He stares at Jethaniel for a few beats. The… club will not be necessary. He re-hangs it and steps - lumbers - fully into the barnyard. Piel slips by them and his voice can be heard in the shadowy back of the barn soothing the still-blowing runner. Secured in stalls for the night, sleepy camelids begin poking their heads over the gates curiously. Chapar thinks, then rumbles, "Fence is broken up yonder on the pasture backside, but that'll be fixed by daybreak. The dams will be giving birth soon." That could be an issue? He squints into the semi-darkness where Raelii and Mur'dah linger. "We're down by one camelid." Apparently as she is not here, he assumes she's toast. He frowns. "You may take the appropriate amount from my pay."

Raelii's hazel eyes flick to Mur'dah's ankle. "Whaaat did you do to it? Did the felines snag you?" She bends to see but it's dark, so straightens up. "I don't even know if we have the stuff for feeding them," she responds. They do, she just doesn't know it. And they'll have to pass Chapar to go into the barn, to which they should be heading. There is no bellow echoing across the yard. Not yet, anyway. So she begins heading that way. "Ah, by the way," she notes as she walks, "Your dragon stole someone's jacket and dumped it on me. It's a little soggy."

Mur'dah shakes his head quickly, looking at his ankle, then darting a glance to the men in the yard when Raelii bends down. "No, no. I hurt it a little while back. Sprained it. It…hasn't had a chance to heal." And he didn't wrap it this morning either, because he sucks at wrapping it. Shifting the baby in his arms, he looks at the barn and follows after her. "Is there another, uh, mom? That would take them? Can they do that?" Limping a bit, he grins, his tone a bit lighter on the topic of the soggy jacket. "Yeah, I know. Friend of mine took it to him so you'd have something to wear. I'll buy him a new one, or at least get that one cleaned." Because it's had dragon slobber on the outside and camilid afterbirth on the inside. Yeah. New jacket it is.

Jethaniel looks to Chapar with a steady gaze, though that requires his head to tilt back as the herder emerges. He stands where he is, waiting for the gears to turn and considerations to be made on the question he's asked and the verifiable presence of Raelii. The break in the fence receives a nod, as does the upcoming parturition, but the corners of his mouth quirk upward ever so slightly at the statement concerning the population. "No," Jethaniel says. His tone is mild, the amusement in it faint. "You are up by one camelid, net." The smile, such as it is, fades. "There are wild felines in the area; nocturnal ambush predators. If the camelids seek shelters to give birth, they are likely to become targets." The lack of smile shifts further and becomes a frown. "As are lone humans."

Chapar's expression shifts to surprise and he once again shifts to Raelii and Mur'dah - this time they are closer and lit by the lanterns hung at the barn doors - He spots the cria Mur'dah has immediately. The belly-bulge of Raelii's stomach narrows his eyes further, his initial impression chaotic and… absurd. Of course she got a cria in there! He coughs, rubs a hand down the back of his neck. "Ah. I…see." The young people may pass; he'll be in to inspect the babies shortly. Right now he's… being informed. He nods; yes, Jethaniel had warned him about felines. "No one is out at night," he rasps. Eeeexcept tonight. But the camelid escaped during daylight. Hm. "I'll remember that," he says slowly, thoughtfully. "I can raise the fence another three feet. If we could we get… herd dogs to help patrol the perimeters?" That's all he knows to do. Oh, and Raelii? When he finds out about how close those felines came, you'll be lucky if you get to set foot outside of the barnyard before you're thirty.

Do camelid mothers accept young not their own? "I don't know," Raelii answers Mur'dah's question easily. "We don't have any other new mothers though. Maybe the goat can suckle them? If we lift her high enough and tie her up?" Ah Raelii. She needs to spend time in Cold Stone Hold, it sounds like. Or someone does. Otherwise this birthing season is going to be a disaster. And oh shearing time! Heh. That's coming too.

Beastcraft lessons. Yes, please, Jethaniel, beastcraft lessons for everyone! Mur'dah blinks at Raelii as they continue on to the barn, his expression twisting a bit. It's not until they're /inside/ the barn that he begins to laugh. Soft, yes, but…laughter it is. "Just…lift…the goat…" It's a ridiculous idea but it's got him laughing. "So creative…mm. But I don't think that'd work. I think…bottle feeding them. I just don't know what goes into the formula. Shardit, I should just go fetch a beastcrafter from the weyr," he mutters. "Bring one back with me after I take Jeth home, maybe?"

No one is out at night, and yet twilight is long past and they've only just returned - or arrived, in the case of Jethaniel, so Chapar's statement receives an arched brow that invites him to reconsider. The Steward does not ask for that consideration to be provided to him at present, but he will see the outcomes of it. For now, he nods to the statement regarding the fence. "I will arrange for canines." Perhaps he can get some shipped from Cold Stone so there'll at least be someone familiar with working camelids… at least until Jethaniel manages to actually arrange for a journeyman with a specialty in camelids to be posted here. The expected value of having one keeps increasing - if only because the expected loss of not having one is also rising. Jethaniel is, however, primarily concerned with the net, not gross, and while the camelids may not initially be a profit center, he would prefer to minimize losses and ensure that they become so. Mur'dah and Raelii get a glance as they pass, but Jethaniel is disinclined to explain the details of their adventure. He does, however, smile slightly. "While I am here-" And just why is he, given the hour? "-is there anything else?" Because if not, he would prefer to no longer be here and return to his previous plans for the night.

Chapar notes the irony of his statement. Yes, obviously there were people out there after dark. "Shoulda been back hours ago," he grumbles and as Raelii and Mur'dah passes, he shoots them a look. Not blaming Mur'dah, no. Because he knows his daughter's tendency to get herself into trouble. He will find out what happened later. For now though, he merely grunts, "Boy, you can leave it with Raelii and see the Steward home. Oh. And your dragon and firelizard are hungry." So he assumes! They don't have either dragons or firelizards up here, so yep, pretty ignorant as far as they go too. His head swings back around to Jethaniel. "Thank you, Sir." For the canines. For- why is the steward here? "I think we're set for now," he says slowly while staring. There are too many things on his mind at the moment. Why did it take so long for them to return? He has two tiny newborn camelids to handraise - he has to dig out those bottles he saw in the crates they stuck in the shed and shardit! Read the manual on mixing that powered formula and hope he gets it right. Tie the goat up indeed! He almost doesn't ask. But before the man can escape, "What brought you out here this time of night?"

She said something funny? "What? The cow is too heavy," says Raelii to Mur'dah. Is she serious? Sometimes it's hard to say.

Mur'dah dips his head down respectfully to both Chapar and Jethaniel as they pass and move into the barn. Where…he cracks up laughing. Loudly. Okay. Tension is broken, they're not dead, they have two babies in their arms, and he's going in to try and give Raelii a tight, one armed side hug. Oh wait, he's being spoken to. Peering out of the barn he lets Raelii go and clears his throat. "I'd like to have a moment as well, sir, perhaps when I return? Shall I bring a beastcrafter back? To make sure the babies are set up…properly?" Is that the right way to phrase it so he won't be insulting? That last question is given to both of the men.

"Unforeseen events are remarkably prevalent," Jethaniel says to what should have been, but his tone is mild. There's little harm done, and as such, this situation may become a lesson for the future and he… may go home; there's a slight smile for that part of Chapar's directions to Mur'dah. Jethaniel inclines his head concerning those canines - which can hopefully be delivered more expeditiously than the shipboard transit the camelids used - then nods to the acceptability of the current status. He does not answer Mur'dah's question about the beastcrafter, instead directing his gaze to Chapar, the designated local coordinator for such decisions. Jethaniel tends to be results-oriented and not prone to random inspections, and yet… his lips quirk at the question, and he glances to Mur'dah and Raelii. "A series of unforeseen events." His gaze returns to Chapar, smile still in place. "Carry on." Jethaniel, however, intends to be off, quite glad for the ride with Mur'dah back to the Weyr.

Chapar will merely grunt to the answer and mutter something to Mur'dah about the moment. It's non-committal. He'll be here, still up but will be busy. Mur'dah can try? "The beastcrafter we'd need is in the summer pastures with the ovines," he says to the boy. "Probably wouldn't hurt to have him stop by." Which means popping about half the night for Mur'dah, most likely. Unforseen circumstances indeed! Carry on. Yes, he intends to do that. "Goodnight Sir."

While they're gone, Raelii is at least spared from questions by her father - he's busy digging out bottles and jars of powdered formula and having Lei boil water. Raelii will keep the crias company though and settle them in a nest of blankets. And sing to them while the goat and the cow thank their lucky stars no one takes Raelii's plans seriously.

Mur'dah nods and takes Jethaniel back to the weyr, thanking him and apologizing to him in the same breath before they're off to the summer pastures to seek out the beastcrafter. Finding him (her?) Mur'dah takes them back to the camp and they get to work helping, sorting things out, answering questions and what-not.

So with two new-born orphaned crias at the high pastures encampment, there is much to do. And yes, a beastcrafter is sorely needed - at least for tonight - and thankfully Mur'dah has gone to fetch him from the ovine encampment. Just how badly will be seen as Chapar, having rummaged in the attic for quite some time to that shed has finally found those feeding bottles and the powdered formula. Raelii has wrapped the crias in a nest of old blankets and slipped away at her father's call. And Mur'dah's return finds her lugging a pot of boiled water towards the barn, walking beside her father, who has a huge carton on one shoulder.

Kalsuoth lands a short distance away, far enough to hopefully not spook anything or anyone, and Mur'dah and the beastcrafter, an older man by the name of Feral (ironically enough - pronounced fe-RAL, rather than FE-ral), make the rest of the trip on foot. "Hear you have two baby crias to care for," the beastcrafter says, reaching out to offer to take the boiled water. Mur'dah is carrying the man's satchel, presumably, and dips his head in a nod. Hello. Again.

Everything is safely in the barns for the night and more importantly, where they cannot see the arriving dragon. Raelii and Chapar pause to await the others, Chapar grunting a response to the crafter and affirming the statement with a bob of his head. "Aye. In here," he says turning to resume his trek to that long, low barn. Raelii hands over the pot of boiled water, now cooled to lukewarm. She says nothing audible to Mur'dah as she falls into step behind the two men. She turns her head to mouthe silent words and pantomimes frantically with wide-eyed and significant glances at Chapar's back. Basically the message: he hasn't yet asked for details and she hasn't yet told him any. And then she grins. "…lost the mother. Felines," Chapar is saying as they enter the barn and head down the aisle to where the oil lantern glow spills from the stall where the crias are nested. "You'll want to examine them?" Meanwhile he sets the carton down and opens it, muttering to himself about the directions.

Mur'dah is happy to forget all those details ever happened. If she happens to glance at his right hand and notice it - and as much of his wrist as she can see - is scrubbed to the point of being pink and almost inflamed, well. She'll know why. He winks back at her as he limps along behind everyone, setting the beastcrafter's bag down outside the stall while the man steps inside, nodding as he kneels to examine the babies. "Thin, hungry, we need to get that into them soon as possible. Here," he says, offering to make the formula himself. He knows how, will be faster, before the crias waste away.

Raelii notes the pink and snerks to herself. She isn't even remotely surprised Mur'dah's made the time to wash his arm amidst the fetching of the beastcrafter. She waits while Feral examines the twins, then slips into the stall and crouches beside the tiny creatures, who, now that they are awake, bleat in hunger. Chapar doesn't want to lose the babies, not after taking the loss of the mother. He hands over the sheet with the directions - the ratio of water to powdered formula is on it - and pulls out two large, squared bottles, unsealing the sterile packages and places them on the carton where Feral can pour the powder and water into them. The nipples are unwrapped next and held, helpfully ready in his huge hands. Raelii watches the mixing of the formula with avid interest, learning opportunity, this! Aaaand it's probably going to be her chore to feed them, seeing she was involved.

Mur'dah stands back - out of the way - while the formula is mixed and the beastcrafter takes the natural born creature into his lap, offering him the nipple. "The trick is to convince them it's just as good as mom's," he says, nodding encouragingly to Raelii. "You want to feed that one?"

Aww! They're so cute! Raelii nods eagerly to Feral and takes the one Mur'dah delivered onto her lap, watching for a few moments to see how the beastcrafter does it. She then reaches for that other bottle and copies him, offering the nipple. It takes the cria a few tries, but the scent of the milk encourages it, as does Raelii's murmurs. After a few moments it is suckling eagerly while Raelii watches it with a tender expression. D'aww! So cute! Chapar, meanwhile moves to stand back with Mur'dah. "Thanks Boy," he says leveling him a somber look. "You brought 'em back." For bringing his daughter back is what he really means. He may not have asked, but he has his own suppositions about what happened to the mother camelid.

Mur'dah exhales softly when both babies take the bottles and begin to eat. There. /Finally/ he can relax. Mostly. Glancing at Chapar, the brownrider dips his head in a nod. "You're welcome, sir," he murmurs. Looking back at the suckling critters, he takes a small step back. "If I could have a brief word?" he asks the massive (gulp) man.

Chapar continues to regard Mur'dah, as he takes that backwards step. He said thanks and now the boy looks like he's going to run off. The question though, has ex-trader-now-herder rumbling a laugh, "You may." Chapar. Master of brief words. He's expecting some sort of report. You know, detail of what happened, whatnot and so forth. So he nods and waits in silence. Looming.

Mur'dah clears his throat softly before he speaks, just as softly. "My firelizard and Kalsuoth weren't hungry, sir. They were trying to get your attention because we needed help. I'm not sure, maybe some sort of signal, or…" And he trails off. Cough. Pleasedon'tbemadandsquishme.

The weren't hungry. Chapar receives this news stoically. His camelids will not be required as meals for hungry dragonkind. This pleases him immensely. The 'I'm not sure' prompts the lift of one bushy brow. "I…see." He says slowly. He is silent before nodding. The man is used to doing things a certain way and slow to change, but he is not stupid. This new knowledge will, no doubt, be incorporated into his repertoire of reactive behavior though. Though people of Xanadu might find him inadvertently drawn away by mischievous, hungry firelizards on occasion for wild goose chases. "I will remember." Dragons now,they'd better be ready to be patient and walk so he can follow because he's not about to mount a dragon without the rider steering the things.

From inside the stall, Raelii calls, "Mur'dah, you should come try this. They're so cuuuuute." Little milky bleats and burps sound as the camelids feed contentedly.

Mur'dah nods with a smile, reaching up as if to clasp Chapar on the arm. Then he hesitates, his hand hanging, and then finishes the gesture because at that point he was committed. Too late to turn back! Thankfully, Raelii calls him then, so Mur'dah turns that way to step into the stall and crouch down. "They are awful cute," he agrees. "Here, take this one while I talk to Chapar," Feral says, gesturing to Mur'dah. Within moments the brownrider has a bottle to the cria's lips as it suckles away, and Feral goes to talk to Chapar about their extended care and how to notice signs a mother is about to foal so they can keep her close.

Chapar watches Mur'dah's hand lift, hover and pat his huge arm without moving or smiling. Just stares at it. Maybe it's the intimidation factor? Only when Mur'dah drops his hand and begins to turn away does Chapar's wide hand move and he ruffles Mur'dah's hair. It…could have been worse? He could have swatted him? He moves off with Feral, leaving the two young people and the crias to settle in.

ARG! Not the hair ruffle!

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