An Explosive Gather

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow

A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves.

Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing, while trees border the western edge of the meadow, and a faint outline of a stone wall and low rolling hills can be seen to the north. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests to the southwest or ore from the mountains to the southeast are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

Summertime brings balmy skies to Xanadu, sometimes rain and muggy humidity, but today is clear and dry with a stiff breeze off of the water that carries the tang of salt mingled with fern and moss as it passes over the forest beyond the meadow. The gather flag is out! In the large, empty area of the meadow that does not contain housing, colorful tents and booths are set up with the traders wares glittering in the light of Rukbat, treasures from afar awaiting bargain-hunters. Delicious scents are borne on the breeze, both savory and sweet, from the bakers stalls and strains of lively music float overall where harpers warm up and tune their instruments. Laughter sprinkles the area amongst the chatter and cries of children running and ducking around groups of slower-moving adults. Xanadu has no circular track, but there's a strip the length of the meadow cordoned off with rope and flags for the runner to race straight, old-style and another picket area where the races await their summons.

Somewhere, as far away from those runners as she can get, strolls Xanadu's weyrwoman, dressed casually today and determined to relax. If her offspring are here, she has yet to find them, but she does stop and greet folks as she meanders, without apparent purpose to her steps, though the field.

Zahleizjah may very well fall in to the bargain-hunter category, regardless of any poker winnings acquired during recent hands played at Western, and has found her way to Xanadu as word of the Weyr's Gather extravaganza has spread far and wide across Pern. After the bone chilling ride *between* the Starcrafter is reveling in the clear, dry weather beneath Rukbat's glory and between the colorful tents and glittering wares. The tantalizing aromas tickle her nostrils, laughter abound making her smile as she wanders. A few scarves and sparklies are picked up for a steal of a deal, and her ventures bring her Thea's direction. When she catches sight of the WW, head is bowed and she smiles with her greeting "Thea m'lady. Long time… Xanadu is looking lovely as ever!"

Everyone loves a good gather! They're fun and festive and you can purchase interesting items and foodstuffs. Ka'el is here amongst the weyrfolk that chatter about wagers of just who'll win, and by what margin, and so on and so forth. Ka'el himself isn't placing any bets, right? No. Not yet anyway. Not right now. Maybe later? Much like his female Weyrwoman counterpart, the Weyrleader is moving from place to place at a meandering pace, in no particular hurry to get to where he's going. No rush! He does appear to be looking for something, though. Perhaps his favorite food booth or a favor he'd like to snag before they're out of stock. "Woah, hey!" said as he's nearly bowled over by some running weyrbrats who zoom off, continuing their game of chase.

No strangers to Xanadian shores, two Fortian visitors weave their way at a sedate and almost idle pace through the colourful tents and booths with those tempting traders wares. Th'ero has shed his usual formal riding gear in favour of lighter clothing that is no less formal but far more breathable on a summery day. The knot he has pinned to his shoulder will be plenty enough for folks to recognize, though to judge from his expression after the next round of polite greetings and exchanges he's itching for an excuse to tuck it away. "See anything you like?" he murmurs to the bluerider beside him, an easy smile curving his lips. He scans the crowds from time to time, mostly out of curiosity than wariness. No doubt searching for familiar faces!

Another wanders the meadow Gather grounds too, only this one is a Xanadian native. Kiena wears a simple linen dress of an off white hue and a flax corset belt about her middle and dyed dark blue with russet trim. Semi-formal at best, the Weyrsecond looks at ease and comfortable and even has made an effort to tie her hair back, a few strands braided and tucked behind her ears. She drifts closer and closer to where the runners are picketed to wait for their turn in the races, curious to see what the allure is all about!

Kimmila is dressed in loose, casual clothes - no formal gather gown for her - as she walks arm and arm with Th'ero. "That bracelet is quite nice," she says, pausing at a jewelry stall.

Nyalle has also arrived, in the company of Mr'az - now of Fort - and the pair begin to drift through the shops, though Fort's Senior stops and chats with anyone who seems interested. Playing the part, being social, but she does seem to be enjoying herself!

Mur'dah is indeed here, moving along slowly on his still mending ankle. Wandering around enjoying the afternoon with a mug of ale in his hand. Perhaps meandering is a family trait, as the brownrider meanders right up to his mother and smiles. "Hi, Mom. Enjoying yourself? Zahleizjah! Great to see you!"

Soriana is only just arriving at the Gather. Maybe something kept her? But if it did, it probably wasn't something a the office, because she's coming from the direction of the coastal road. Toral's perched on her shoulder being a decorative brown firelizard, and she's dressed in nice-but-casual clothes, a blouse and trousers in subdued forest colors of green and brown. Her hair's still slightly damp where it's tied back loosely with a ribbon. She smiles as she encounters the outer currents of the Gather, a face that's friendly - if perhaps a little bland? - as she enters the crowds and goes… well, wherever they take her. She doesn't seem to be in a hurry to end up anywhere in particular.

Kera is wandering among the booths with a couple other weyrlings, when something catches her eye. Fumbling through a big bowl of the little items, plucks out a few, pays her marks then wanders on to the next booth. The greenling wave and speaks to a few people that go by before turning her attention to searching. Having lost track of Innes in the crowd, she shrugs then spots a shocking display of red hair through the crowd "Innes! Come look at this."

It's rather a miracle that Innes is here, actually, considering how very much Kairoikyriath hates to be left out of anything. But after a great deal of 'persuasion' - largely in the form of threats - the young gold has been settled safely in a spot where she can watch many of the arrivals without disturbing the gather. Her weyrling, meanwhile, is keeping a close mental watch, just in case. So it's no surprise that Innes is a bit unfocused in her wandering, so much so that she quickly loses track of her friend in the crowd. She glances about when she realizes her mistake, moving toward the sound when she hears her name. "What is it?" she questions as she reaches Kera's side. "Don't go wandering off like that or we'll never find each other again."

Zahleizjah is caught off guard slightly as her name is called out by the approaching brownrider. "Mur'dah!" she swallows the teeming awkwardness that attempts to bubble out every time she's in a crowd and continues "S'good t'see you too! How are things these days?" The Starcrafter hadn't really prepared much for the gather, wearing nothing particularly special, but tying one of the new colorful scarfs she just picked up around her waist to look slightly more festive. A few familiar faces are spotted in the crowd and she excuses herself to say hello "Ka'el, Soriana.. s'great t'see you two!" She's just about to strike up a convo and then wander towards Kera and company when a messy haired messenger scurries up to her. The delivery seems frantic and there's an exchange that portrays a fair amount of concern. "If you'll excuse me…" she says to the Xanadian riders "Just my luck that duty would call at time like this." And just like that she's set to depart, grateful for the fun finds, and on the fence about craftwork taking the place of socializing once again. Wall-flower or disappointed un-Gatherer? One may never know.

Ka'el greets those who greet him, and a few random faces who don't greet him, and his smile is pleasant for all. Some, though, get broader grins than others. Zahleizjah, for one, who is swept here and there, causing a chuckle. The Weyrlings, another, who also receive waves of greeting. Yikes, it's hard to keep track of people! He should snaga drink while he can, and so he starts that way. Where the drinks are. His eyes continue to search and eventually land upon Soriana, who gives him pause before he's swept along with the river of people again. Towards those drinks, hopefully. "Xanadu's duties!" he offers as he's carried along by the current towards other Weyrleaders and Women. Of Fort!

Th'ero pauses alongside Kimmila when she stops to peek at the jewelry and the Fortian Weyrleader cannot help but chuckle and tease her. "Should've known you'd go right for these wares. Which one was it?" he asks, his arm still linked with hers as he peers down at the displayed goods but not for long. Soon he scans the crowds again and… is that a Xanadu Weyrleader he spies? Regardless, his greeting is genuine all the same. "Fort's duties to Xanadu!"

Mr'az, now sporting a Fortian knot rather than High Reaches, walks alongside Nyalle and when his focus is not drawn to taking part in social greetings and exchanges, the bronzerider is peering about the unfamiliar meadow curiously. Last time he had been here, Zhirazoth had given chase. Now he's here on far more relaxed terms and with a broad grin he offers to fetch Nyalle some refreshments.

Kiena drifts as close as she can to those picketed runners, lingering for a moment to observe the preparations before her curiosity is satisfied and she moves on, only to be snared into another round of social greetings and exchanges. By the time she finds a chance to politely excuse herself and escape, she's developed a thirst and changes her path back towards the stalls.

Kimmila toys with the bracelet for a moment before she's grinning a bit at Th'ero. "What's that supposed to mean?" she drawls, before Ka'el approaches them. "Hello!" she says brightly, extending a hand and offering a smile to the bronzerider.

Nyalle smiles at Mr'az, nodding her head. "White wine if they have it, thank you," she says, before she is greeted by Ka'el and the Fortian Senior smiles, lifting her brown skirt in a curtsey. "Sir, it's a pleasure," she says, extending her hand, fingers curled and palm down. "Fort's duties and gratitude for hosting this lovely event." Reclaiming her hand, assuming he takes it, she brushes dark strands of fine hair back from her face and over her shoulder once more.

Mur'dah grins back at Zahleizjah, about to answer her question when she's called away. "Like a shooting star, that one," he murmurs, taking a sip of his ale as she vanishes.

Crowds are not Thea's favorite things, but her expression does not show it even though she's drifting around the edges of it. It's breathing room, rather than a longed-for escape, for she's going to do her duty and be here regardless of her own…wishes. Her greetings are pleasant, light and warm, but not highly personal; they are in public, after all and privacy is not to be had. Reveling in the casual atmosphere, she's wearing light, loose-fitting cotton trous and a sleeveless tunic of sea green with woven grass sandals on her feet, her heavy dark hair is left loose to tumble about her shoulders. "Hello son of mine," she greets Mur'dah with a smile and an arm offering him a brief hug. Enjoying herself? Heh, no, but she doesn't tell him that. She'd kiss his cheek but, he's all grown up and might frown on that. Zahleizjah's breezy hello has her smile growing and her lips parting to answer but the girl bubbles off before she can reply, leaving a bemused Thea, headshaking in her wake. "Certainly sparkles enough to be one," she says cryptically when she can find the words. In the milling faces, she does spot Th'ero, Kimmla and Nyalle, raises a hand to wave at them; she'll begin drifting that way, passing Kera and Innes on the way. "Enjoying your gather, Weyrlings?" she asks them with a cheerful tone.

Soriana takes a few minutes between the smiles and nods of greeting to study the contents of a booth. This one is selling a fine assortment of… pottery. Mugs and bowls, glazed in various colors and stacked in piles that hopefully - given those small children running around - aren't as precarious as they look. She looks at these wares quite thoroughly, though not thoroughly enough to actually reach out and take one. Just looks, and that's when Ka'el notices her. Which must be why she doesn't notice him back, being as she's so enthralled in… Toral chirps from her shoulder, and Soriana starts slightly, glancing to the firelizard and brushing a finger against his neck as she turns from the booth. So here she is, where to now? She picks her direction to drift in the crowd, and it's one that takes her vaguely toward the runners - which means she passes near Kiena on the Weyrsecond's way back. "Hello," Soriana says. Time for yet another round of social greetings? Apparently. "How's the day?"

Kera snorts at Innes's scolding. "Me? You're the one that kept on going when I said 'wait a sec'." Dropping her little purchases into her waist pouch, she gestures with her chin towards the booth in front of her. "This booth has mini baklava's. Want some?" The weyrling barely waits for a reply before getting some. Wasting little time in sampling the goods, she plucks one for herself and offers some to Innes "I saw some ribbon and hair ties somewhere round here." Standing up on her toes, she cranes to peer around through the crowd. Spotting several people she knows, waves and nods are sent their way before peering back to Innes with a little grin "Oh, this one guy had pretty drawstring bags. Big enough to stuff clothes in, rather than toss them all over the barr.." The sudden question disrupts her thought as she notices the Weyrwoman snuck up on them. Nodding quickly and saluting with her free hand "Yes ma'am. Found a few thread colors I needed… You enjoying the sights as well ma'am?"

Ka'el takes the offered hand of the Fortian Senior Weyrwoman and bends at the waist while bringing it to his lips to kiss. "It's our pleasure to have you here, Weyrwoman. All of you," he extends as he straightens, eyes turning to Th'ero and his weyrmate as Nyalle's hand is released and Kimmila's is taken to do the same. "It's been the talk of the Weyr, these races. Everyone has been looking forward to them, myself included. They're exciting, aren't they?" He grins as he releases her too. "Have you all had something to drink? Placed your wagers? I hear Xanadu's stock is bound to make a show," he says boastfully teasing, tone friendly.

"What do you think it means," Th'ero continues to tease Kimmila, keeping his voice lowered but overheard easily enough by the bluerider or those close around them. He'll even wink at his weyrmate and perhaps a little relieved when her focus shifts from the bracelet to Ka'el's arrival. Extending his hand to the bronzerider, he'll chuckle heartily for the teasing boasting and his own reply just as easy going (for once!). "They are exciting and there was once when I couldn't believe it. I've been proven quite wrong," he drawls and glances sidelong to Kimmila. "No wagers on my part. And is that so?"

Mr'az dips his head low and smiles warmly to Nyalle. "I'll be right back," he informs her just before slipping into the crowds and disappearing. He'll miss the exchange between the Fortian Weyrwoman and Xanadu's Weyrleader, arriving moments after with wine glasses in hand and a wineskin slung over his shoulder. Success! "I've wine, but only two glasses I'm afraid." he muses, offering Nyalle her's and then in a gracious offer holds out his to Ka'el. "Fort's duties to Xanadu." he adds a touch belatedly.

Kiena steps around another knot of people, bobbing her head in a hasty greeting as she passes by and weaves her own path. A path that has her crossing with Soriana and while it is another round of social greeting it's one the Weyrsecond welcomes. She knows the goldrider well enough by now and can at least relax, to a degree, with her. "Hey," Okay, a bit too causual maybe? "Afternoon. Goes well enough. Stole a peek at the runners. How're you? Enjoying all the 'chaos'?" she muses with a crooked half-grin.

Innes sticks out her tongue in Kera's direction, pulling a face at the other weyrling. "I'm concentrating," she retorts. It takes her a moment to remember her dignity and return to her usual impassive expression. People are watching, and all of that. They're probably supposed to make Xanadu look good. Or at least not like it houses 5-turn-olds masquerading as weyrlings. "Kairo isn't making this easy." Her gaze drops to the food and her brows lift. As though she'd ever turn down something to eat. As Kera offers, she nods, taking a piece and stuffing it rather ungracefully into her mouth. "You're going to pay for ribbon?" she asks around her food, thankfully displaying enough in the way of manners to at least cover her mouth with her hand. "Can't you just… find some?" Her eyes narrow slightly at the mention of drawstring bags for cleaning up her mess. Chances of her buying one? Next to nothing, now. Thea's arrival receives a proper salute (for once!) and a grin. "It's not bad at all."

Kimmila looks a bit startled when Ka'el kisses her hand, but she doesn't jerk it away. She just gives his a firm squeeze and a shake before she takes it back. She laughs. "Wagers are already placed, though I think Fort's stock is going to do just as well, if not better," she says, returning that teasing tone with a crooked grin. "It's a good circuit. Looking forward to the finals in Keroon." Glancing back to Th'ero, the bluerider smirks. "That I should have gone to the weapons stall first."

Nyalle smiles, pleased with Ka'el's greeting. How proper! "Mr'az has just gone to get us some drinks, but thank you sir. Wagering is not my thing though, I just don't seem to have the eye for picking winners. Best of luck though," she adds, hands clasped in front of her. When Mr'az returns the young goldrider smiles, dipping her head with a murmured 'thanks' as she takes the glass and holds it out for him to fill. "Delicious," she compliments.

Mur'dah returns his mother's hug with a fond smile, and he's the one to kiss /her/ cheek. Surprise? Then he's meandering alongside her to approach the Weyrlings as well, only limping a little on his injured ankle. Tipping his head in a nod to the Weyrlings, he also peers at the booth and gets a treat for himself to nibble on, getting crumbs all over the front of his tunic. Whoops.

That's right! The Weyrwoman's one aim for this gather is to stealth around until she spots a hapless Weyrling, materialize out of thin air and pounce! If she hears Kera's comment about dirty laundry littering the barracks floor, she does not air the issue here; instead Thea merely chuckles. "Good for you." Is she enjoying the sights? "There're things…to see," she answers vaguely with a faint smile as her hand gestures about at the crowds, the booths, the…crowds. Breathe, Thea, breathe! She does not ask them if they're staying out of trouble, merely returns Innes' salute with a flicker of a wink and reiterates, "See that you enjoy it thoroughly." And don't get caught! Pleased that her son is affectionate, she drifts contentedly, but unhurriedly with him towards the Fort group, both amused…and relieved as she spots Ka'el turning on the charm with them. The young Weyrleader is doing quite well! Somewhere a loudspeaker (faintly heard for all the commotion of the crowd-babble) crackles the announcement that the first race will begin shortly. The reminder causes the Weyrwoman to tense visibly and forcibly relax before moving onwards.

Ka'el shakes the hands of both Weyrleader Th'ero and Mr'az when he returns, even though he hasn't a clue who Mr'az is. Doesn't matter, really. He's here! And with the Weyrwoman. So, he gets greeted. Which he would've even if he wasn't with the Weyrwoman. "I've too many Beastcrafting friends that if I even joked that runners were anything but amazingly interesting and the epitome of excitement, I'd probably find myself on the receiving end've a stampede," he laughs to Th'ero. Mr'az's offer of his second and last wine glass is appreciated with a smile but politely waved off with a hand. "Thank you, but keep it. There'll be plenty of wine and ale and whatever else floating about that I'll eventually find one in my hand. Ka'el, by the way," he offers in introduction, "Xanadu Weyrleader, rider of bronze Kanekith." His eyes shift to Kimmila, who earns a devious grin. "We'll soon see, shall we?" A pause for that loudspeaker, "and rather soon, from the sounds of it!"

Soriana's expression stays the same polite smile for the casual greeting. The formal occasion (such as it is) is somewhere over there, where Weyrleaderships meet and share duties. The revised version makes her head tilt slightly to the side, but it's not enough to actually raise an eyebrow. Blame the crowds, right? "I think everyone likes a chance to get out and celebrate," she says. "It would explain why they're all here." There's a glance past Kiena to where the runners are being held, as best as she can see them through the crowd. "I suppose they're ready to run." The smile's slipped, just a little, but then there's the announcement of that race, and Soriana puts her smile in its proper place again as she looks back to Kiena. "Better hurry if you want one of the good seats." Ready or not, it's time to run! "Enjoy." She waves, and slips off through the crowd. Maybe she wants a drink first - that's the general direction she's headed in, at least… but who knows where she'll end up, given those crowds and the fact that she doesn't seem all that hurried to get anywhere, despite what she told Kiena.

Kera lifts a brow to the Weyrwoman's words, "Yes ma'am." Another salute given to Thea as the Weyrwoman drifts off to pounce other unsuspecting weyrlings, maybe. Peering back to Innes, she chuckles "You shouldn't take that as a challenge Innes." Kera smirks, knowing her words of caution probably are wasted. Scanning the differant stacks of items, her gaze flicks to Innes periodically, giving an amused and casual shrug of her shoulders "Buy you ribbons? Depends, will it end up on the floor like everything else?" Nodding over Innes's distracted manner she's about to say something else when loudspeakers get her attention "I guess the runners are about to do their thing. Did ya wanna get a spot or take advantage of the thin crowd to look around the booths?"

Th'ero laughs softly for Kimmila's smirked reply. "Maybe later, if time allows, we'll browse that stall too." Nothing says bonding time like shopping for new daggers? The wagering on her part does not surprise the Fortian Weyrleader in the least. "Only on Fortian stock or did you broaden your chances?" he murmurs, turning then to Ka'el and snorting in amusement, grinning broadly. "Wise of you not to get on their bad side! And who knows how the races may go. Ista has some good stock too, from what I hear." How much of it he understands? Another matter entirely. "Ready?" Th'ero asks to Kimmila, slipping his arm around her.

Mr'az slips the wineskin from his shoulder and pours Nyalle her glass and murmurs a soft 'welcome' in return. "Suppose you've a point!" Mr'az remarks to Ka'el with a faint grin as he reclaims his glass. "Well met, Weyrleader Ka'el," he says in exchange. "Mr'az, Wingrider and bronze Zhirazoth's of Fort." At the announcement of the races, he looks up and then grins, canting his head to whisper to her ear and then out loud add: "Seems like it! Shall we?" He offers his arm to Nyalle, ready to help navigate the migrating crowds in hopes of snaring a good vantage point for the races!

Kiena smirks crookedly, scanning the crowds as well. "It's true, everyone would enjoy to escape now and again." she replies to Soriana, only to gaze back to the roped off track when the announcement is made. She laughs, "Hurry? What's the rush?" she jokes lightly, lifting a hand in a little wave as Soriana takes her leave. No rushing on her part either, she gathers her skirt and begins to pick her way through the crowd again.

Kimmila laughs, nodding at Ka'el's comments. "Wise man," she says, grin easy going and tilted. Listening to the loudspeaker she smiles around at the group. "I'd like to go get a good spot to see. Shall we?" Whoever wants to join her, that is. "Oh, I have my betting ways," she says cryptically to Th'ero, with a wink.

Nyalle smiles at Ka'el and then tilts her head towards her companion, blushing a bit at not introducing him right away. Whoops. "Ah, yes, I'd like to see the first race at least." Giving some passing lead runners a slightly wistful smile, she refocuses on the humans among her and nods, moving in that direction with the crowd, drifting away from the others as she and Mr'az seek a good spot to watch from.

Mur'dah looks between the Weyrlings, pleased at their salutes to the Weyrwoman at least (maybe they haven't even noticed him) and then reaches out to gently squeeze his mother's elbow, leaning in to whisper something softly to her.

"Don't take what as a challenge?" Innes asks, looking like the very portrait of innocence. "I'm just going to enjoy myself." There's a teasing edge to her grin as she looks at her fellow weyrling. Mur'dah does get a (grudging) salute, but as he and Thea seem to be moving on, her attention shifts swiftly back to Kera. "I don't want ribbons," she says quickly, holding up both hands as though to shove the very idea away. "I'd look ridiculous in ribbons. You can buy ribbons for yourself if you want them." Her head cants to the side, her attention shifting to the dragon waiting not-so-patiently outside the gather. She almost misses the announcement, and gives Kera a momentarily befuddled look before her thoughts catch up to her. "Oh. Maybe watch a race or two and then poke about?"

Ka'el grins and dips his head to the Fortian leaders as they head off in pairs to get a good view of the races. Being leaders (or partnered up with one!) they're guaranteed the best seats in the house! Ka'el himself is going too, though he hangs back a little, scanning the crowds, most of which are beginning to head towards the track to view. Looking from face to face, he fails to find the face he's looking for. If he is, in fact, looking for a particular face. The corners of his mouth begin to dip and curve down, but he saves face as he starts to move, heading with the others to watch. He gradually makes his way to a familiar face after all. "You look lovely, Weyrsecond," he says to Kiena, grinning as he ends up at her side.

Kera peers back to Innes, not at all buying the innocent look, and just shaking her head "Whenever ya look like that, things go down hill." popping one of the sweet treats in her mouth, she waves the little tray of them towards Innes. "The ribbon was to hold your hair back silly…oh nevermind." Following a couple of riders murmuring about bets, she glances to the goldling "Did you make any bets?" The Weyrleaders and visitors are nodded to with a cheery smile, the ones she recognizes get a added wave.

Thea takes a deep breath and shakes her head at Mur'dah. "No," she says simply and quickens her step to move resolutely towards the roped off straightaway reserved for racing. Whatever thoughts she's having are left unsaid as her gaze flicks to the saddled racer-picket where the jockeys are being hoisted aboard and paired with their escort runners. She's glad for his presence, though, and flashes him a quick, grateful smile. She nods as she passes close to Ka'el and Kiena, her murmur of greeting to Weyrleader and Weyrsecond drowned out in yet another loudspeaker announcement and the cheering of the crowd. The runners are being prance-led to the starting line. Finding a spot to watch, she's right behind Th'ero and Kimmila, thus she leans forward to brush her fingertips to each of their shoulders. "Hello, so good to see you both again." No formality and her smile is warm, if slightly strained. She keeps her eyes away from the starting line for the moment - that's the only thing helping her not to tense again.

"Betting ways you probably won't share, will you?" Th'ero teases Kimmila again and will join her by offering her his arm before he is leading on through the crowds. Crowds that are now moving steadily towards the spectating area for the races and along the way paths may weave and wend their way closer to more familiar faces. Passing by the Weyrlings, he recognizes Kera and returns her waved greeting. "Afternoon! Fort's duties. Enjoying yourselves?" he'll ask before they're swept off again by the crowds. It does help to have rank at times and Th'ero finds a spot in the knick of time. "Any of yours in this lineup?" he begins to ask Kimmila, only to jump a bit when Thea's fingers brush his shoulders. "Thea!" he replies as he looks over his shoulder and recognizes her instantly. "It is good to see you again! How are you?"

Kiena's attention had been drawn into the crowds again as she works her way free of one current of hopeful spectators, not wishing to be caught in their wake and made to follow. Ka'el's arrival at her side will come as a surprise and she starts, only to grunt and give him a little glare (with a grin!) before she remembers her manners. "Thanks. Though I may regret the choice of a skirt." she drawls, smirking. "Good to see you though… Weyrleader. You interested in seeing the races?" As Thea passes by with Mur'dah, Kiena dips her head in polite greeting to the Weyrwoman followed by murmured words, while the brownrider is given a grin and a wiggled-finger wave. MAybe a bit of a snicker too, for whatever has amused the bluerider.

Kimmila startles a little bit at the touch to her shoulder, head turning and smile wide when she sees who it is. "Thea! Hello!" she greets enthusiastically and warmly. "Lovely job you all have done here, are you enjoying yourself?" She shifts to make room, gesturing for her to join them. "I've bet on at least one runner in every race." Hardly the soundest strategy, but she enjoys it, win or lose.

Mur'dah dips his head a bit and limps after his mother, sipping on his ale. As they pass Ka'el and Kiena, the brownrider pauses long enough to salute them both sharp and proper, though Kiena gets a little amused wink before they move on. Then he finds a spot on the railing to lean and watch, though his attention often times moves back to his 'date' for the evening. His mom. Daww?

Ka'el shakes his head, speaking to Kiena. "Skirts are never a bad choice. .. Except when you're flying. Or climbing ladders. Or caught in a windstorm…" Hhmmmmm. "Maybe skirts are a bad choice sometimes." One that he'll not have to worry about! "Yes, I've come to see the races. And, lucky you, I've one of the best seats in the house!" As does she, ranking rider as she is, but still! He pauses long enough to acknowledge Thea and Mur'dah, then nods his head to Kiena. "Come on, before they start. It's already getting crowded, and I've placed bets." Of course he has. When does Ka'el not place a bet when betting is an option?

Innes simply grins, all pretense of innocence gone. "I don't know what you're talking about. I never get us into trouble. Or given extra chores." Except those times that she has. She takes another of the little desserts when they're offered, munching on it thoughtfully. Her gaze goes toward where the crowds are now gathering. As weyrlings they might not be able to get the best seats, but they'll still find some. "Nah," she answers with a shake of her head. "I forgot. I should've, though." Because nothing is more fun than throwing your money away. She finds a spot with enough room for the two of them, and settles in. "What about you?"

"It's good to see you too, the Xanadu Weyrwoman replies to the Fort Weyrleaders, before adding, "I'm here," by wayof answering both how she's doing and whether she's enjoying herself. The reply is evasive, Thea's smile a pale thing and yeah, they'll probably see right through that, but she doesn't elaborate. Her glance, despite her resolve, is pulled to that starting line and runs down the length of poised runners until they encounter a black one. That's when they jerk away. Mur'dah will feel her tense beside him.

The announcer names the runners - Fort's Silver Set and Dark intentions, Ista's Firethorn and Midnight Streaker, Xanadu's Abelian and Quintic and the barely-contained runners are loosed with the crack of the starter's gun. Thundering hooves pound meadow sod, tossing up grassy chunks as the churning hindquarters propel the runners to the far end of the field. It's over in less than a minute - short sprint-race here - and the runners are circled back towards the stables to walk and cool as the announcer calls out the winners, Fort's Silver Set, Ista's Firethorn and Midnight Streaker and Xanadu's Abelian leaving Fort's Dark Intentions and Xanadu's Quintic edged out of the finals.

Faranth, the crowds. Inri did not have much luck — she does, however, have drinks, and it's after a few more minutes pass and the race is just ending as she winds her way around people to catch up with people she at least certainly believes are Kimmila and Th'ero. "Good," she says, not bothering to actually address anyone — she hasn't processed most of the faces yet anyway. "Cursed dragon wasn't lying to me about your whereabouts, this time." She has a new coat, which is probably not what took her so long.

Kera brushes her hands clean after finishing the snack and slows her steps near the Fortian visitors with a chuckle another salute. "Afternoon sir. Yes, lots of new things to tempt me from the booths. Enjoying the sun?" Realizing she's lost track of Innes, the greenling excuses herself and catches up with the other girl. Ignoring Innes's tall tales with a skyward eyeroll, getting to the rail, Kera shakes her head "Nah. Don't get enough marks to be wasting them like that. Would rather spend them on treats. At least I get something whether I would have won or not." As the race starts, she leans a bit trying to see better as the runners blur by.

Th'eros' brows knit together when Thea's reply is evasive and his gaze will linger longer on the Weyrwoman than is likely proper or polite. He's not about to go prying into her business on a whim, however. Not yet. "So you are," he remarks in a lighthearted way, almost as if to tease and glancing back to Kimmila he laughs softly. "A rather gutsy strategy!" Once the race starts, Th'ero goes silent and his eyes follow the pack of runners as they fly down the straight track in a chaotic mess of thundering hooves. "Shards, how are you even to tell who is who? They move so fast!" Craning his head, he tries to catch a glimpse of the finish line. "Does Kouzevelth often pull that stunt?" Th'ero remarks as Inri arrives, grinning faintly.

Kiena laughs as she walks alongside Ka'el towards the race track. "What'd I tell you? But I figured I may as well… just this once. Y'know. Gather 'n all. Only it seems this is not a dress wearing Gather?" she says with a low snicker and then gestures for him to lead on. She'll follow! "You? Placed bets. How many?" Kiena asks with a sidelong look and a quirked brow. Really? She'll be silent as the race is underway and at the end she's one to cheer the victors of this matchup, no matter how improper it is. Grinning to Ka'el, she jerks her head towards the runners now being lead back. "Any of those the one's you bet on?"

Kimmila gives Thea a concerned look, but doesn't press the issue. Turning to watch the race, her sigh is a clear sign of 'I lost', but she doesn't remark on it. Because then Inri is there! "There you are!" Kimmila says with a grin. "Varmiroth said you were here. Wait, this time? Has she lied to you before?" the bluerider asks, unable to hide the amusement in her gaze. "Come on up here," she says, gesturing for Inri to join them at the rail. "Best seats - well, standing spot - on the track!"

Mur'dah sips his ale, watching the race and his mother, but for now he's quiet and calm, standing beside her.

And they're off! Ka'el cheers along with all of the other race watchers. "Go! Go! Go!" he cries, shaking a fisted hand as if that'll make the runner of his choice go faster. Zoom! Wow, they're fast! He shields his eyes with a hand as they race by and head down to the finish line. "Those Istan runners are like lightning," he says, grinning to Kiena. "I placed bids on Xanadu's, naturally. A bet that they'd qualify, and another that one would finish first." He leans to get a better look at the runners as they begin to slow to a trot, then listens to the official announcement. "Ah, not the best've outcomes for me this round, but hey. We've got one that's made it to the finals!" Not quite a win for him, but it's better than striking out on both of his wagers!

"Often? I don't know about often, but ever? Definitely, she thinks it's funny" Inri says with a dry laugh, the sort that is more sardonic than it is actually amused. She's small, but not so small she can't see — much. The platform certainly makes it easier, and she's squinting, but in the end, the answer to Th'ero's question is, "To be fair, I have no clue, and my parents always loved watching races. The wine's very good," she adds helpfully. "If anyone would like to try some."

Thea remains immobile as the race is run, neither cheering nor shouting. That black runner rears and strikes out with his forefeet just before the gun retort and her face drains of color. The race goes off without a hitch and yet her lower lip is held firmly in her teeth. She's silent as the runners circle back to the barn, eyes following the black one. The looks of concern haven't been noticed and it take her enough time to remember to draw a breath that she's a touch dizzy.

Th'ero knows that sigh from Kimmila and he grimaces. "No luck?" he asks her in a lowered voice. She won't remark on it, but he will apparently. Shifting against her side, he'll chuckle throatily again as Inri joins them. "She certainly has her share of quirks, doesn't she? Glad you could join us though, even if a touch belated?" Better late than never, right? "If you've an extra glass, I'd not mind some of that wine." he murmurs and then darts another look to the tracks. "I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the whole concept of races." he admits with a sheepish smirk. Give him time!

Kiena rolls her eyes as Ka'el explains his choice in bets and shakes her head. "Isn't there a saying… 'don't put your eggs all in one basket'? Or in this case… marks? I mean, good on ya for having confidence in Xanadu stock!" At least there is that upside to it? "Did you catch the runner's name?" she asks, peering again at the runners but unable to pick out the one that placed. While there is a brief lull, Kiena will glance back to Ka'el. "So how've you been? Enjoying the Gather so far?" Being that it's his first as Weyrleader and hers as Weyrsecond.

It won't be long before the next race is announced and the runners slated to run it are brought before the starting line. Moments later the gun sounds off and the runners surge forwards in a blur of motion and thundering hooves. Off they go and down the straight track and almost in a blink of an eye it's done and another race completed without incident. Cheers erupt, along with clapping and other calls from the crowds as the winners are announced. Fort's All That, Ista's Costly Romance and Xanadu's Pigeonhole and Cardinal all place, with Fort's Rebel Pride and Ista's Absolutely Bygones being edged out. It would seem that Xanadu dominated that round!

The skies are clear with light, fluffy clouds that threaten absolutely nothing, not rain, not thunderstorms.


The rumble grows and though distant enough to be not //right there, right there, the ground underfoot trembles as the sound rolls over Xanadu Weyr, echoing a few beats later off of the mountains that rise beyond the forest. It's enough to silence the crowd and spook the runners, some of which toss their heads and shy, dancing a few steps while others rear and plunge, their riders hard-pressed to subdue them. When the rumble begins and does not end, those looking for black stormclouds will see nothing but sunshine and blue skies.//

From behind the rocky edifice that contains the caverns a cloud of ugly black smoke rises into blue sky.

The Weyrwoman stares, uncomprehendingly at the cloud. This is unexpected and the expression on her face is pure shock. Dragons trumpet, rising into the sky to circle high above, Seryth's gold hide flashing amongst them. Thea finds her voice, lifts it to be heard above the hum of startled speculation - but only to the group in front of her, "Seryth says it's near the Weyrling Grounds." Ka'el! Kiena! Where's the Weyrleader? Where's the Weyrsecond? She turns back to where she last saw them. Damn! She needs, "Jethaniel!" Yeah, that's Thea too. Someone go get him please?

Kimmila shrugs at Th'ero, but her smile is just as pleased as ever. It's the betting that's the fun part. But then.. "What the hell!?" Kimmila gasps, staring at that black smoke and reaching out to grip Th'ero's arm. Above, Varmiroth surges into the sky as well to go see, but is very careful to stay clear of the other dragons. Shaking her head, Kimmila can only stare and hold her ground and wait.

Mur'dah swears, looking at his mother. You always want your mom at a time like this, right? Only he's looking to her more as Weyrwoman than Mom. "Weyrling grounds?" Instantly, Kalsuoth's mind is reaching out to all the weyrlings, reaching for their familiar minds. « Where is everyone? Is everyone okay? »

Innes apparently completely misses the fact that she lost Kera again, so much so that she doesn't even notice when the other weyrling rejoins her. She leans forward on her seat as the race begins, eager to see the results. Not that she has a lot of experience with these sorts of things, but she has a favorite picked out within seconds. A favorite who doesn't win, it seems. Oh well. She shrugs a little and glances back to her friend with an arched brow. "But you could have doubled your marks this way, and get double the treats." She's about to say something else, when things start shaking and the girl's eyes widen with something that looks suspiciously like fear. "What is that?" She's reaching out immediately, making sure that Kairoikyriath is in one piece. Thankfully, the young gold is, and responds to Kalsuoth's call with a crackling, « What is it? What needs to be done? »

Kera looks back Innes after the first race ends very quickly. "How many races do they have lined up? If it's only a few, they will all be decided in no time." Watching those around them, some cherring over there won bets, most grumbling over lost marks, she stumbles suddenly and reaches out to catch herself on the railing. Frowning back to Innes "Did you feel that? Was that the runners?" Nope, those around are most definately panicking now. "I'm going to check on Moncerath, she's confused."

Ka'el shakes his head about knowing the name of the runner. "I knew the name…and there was a list.." Somewhere. Maybe folded up in his pocket? He looks for it, but then the second round is underway! He whoops and hollers with everyone else, beaming at how well the Xanadu runners did that time. This runner race this is fun. He turns to Kiena. "Well.." Well. He was enjoying it til something went BOOM! and the groundshook and runners spooked. He reaches for her instinctively, eyes looking up. What in the shards? Smoke! His eys widen, and elsewhere Kanekith takes to the sky along with the other dragons, bellowing his call. "Shardit, what the-.." Thea and Sori. He looks back, catching sight of the Weyrwoman not terribly far off, thank goodness. "Let's go. We may need to gather Galaxy.." said hurriedly to Kiena as he makes his way to Thea.

Whatever Inri was thinking about saying is irrelevant as the noise and smoke distracts everyone and everything from the previous point. Not the calm and collected type, Inri looks almost instantly panicked, wringing her hands and just — instinctively looking to Th'ero and Kimmila for what to do. "Do we even know what —" Concern for what that was doesn't seem to have any effect on Kouzevelth, on the other hand; she has taken to the skies again as well, and is reaching out to Kanekith and Xanadu's queens. « Can we help, » speaks for herself, Varmiroth and Velokraeth, presumably. « What is wrong. »

Th'ero was enjoying himself and that second race, as well as all the social interaction and chatter. He's finally had a chance to unwind and be relaxed in such a crowded event and then BOOM! Literally. Swearing out loud, he is instantly tense and on alert as the ground shakes and runners spook and the sky now has ugly black smoke rising. "Shards and shells! Not sure what that is, but it can't be good!" Reaching next to him to grip Kimmila's arm, he turns his head to Thea. "The Weyrling… Grounds? Are they alright? What can we do to help?" They may not be Xanadian, but Fort's Leadership (and riders) aren't about to just stand by and not at least offer some aid! "No sure." Th'ero remarks to Inri, gesturing for her to stay close. "But we'll find out…" Velokraeth will warble in alarm and then leap aloft to join Varmiroth, though the pale bronze holds back. Waiting on commands, no doubt. This is not his territory. « Tell us what we may do or can do and we will help! »

Kiena curses a few oaths when the explosion goes off and Ujinath is instantly surging into the sky to join the other dragons, eyes whirling rapidly in alarm. "If Galaxy hasn't already mobilized!" she points out to Ka'el once her scattered thoughts click and she can form a coherent phrase that isn't alternated with cussing every other word. So much for "proper" behaviour. Gathering her skirts, she follows after the Weyrleader, expression grim but determined. Of all the days she has to be in a skirt! "Mur'dah!" she'll call as they approach, concern in her eyes. "The Weyrlings?" Are they okay?

"Be careful," Innes instructs, placing a hand on Kera's arm before those around her provide yet another distraction. "If she's safe, maybe she should stay in place and you should stay here until we know what happened." Because hey, waltzing off into the unknown might not be the best idea right now. She can be practical when the moment calls for it. A few of the people around them seem to be — understandably — panicked, and with Kairoikyriath (presumably) safely accounted for, she turns her attention to them instead. "Just stay here," she urges a few people nearby, asking them to pass the message down amongst the onlookers. "Everyone will be able to do their jobs better if we all stay here and out of their way." She makes a vague gesture toward where the ranking riders are sitting, and the flurry of activity over there. "Everything will be fine." A glance goes to Kera, and she nudges the other weyrling before gesturing to said flurry of activity again. "Do you think we should get over there?"

Oh, those crowds. You could lose yourself in those crowds! …Soriana certainly seems to have. Just another face (hidden) in the crowd. She's still around, but maybe she's been taking advantage of the fact that some people are watching the races to check out the booths. Not that she's bought anything, not even a length of ribbon or a bag of roasted nuts, but… she's been around. Not watching the races, despite the fact that she's the daughter of a beastcrafter and has been riding horses since she was actually riding ponies. But no. She's been wandering, gazing at things without really seeing them, idly saying hello to people before moving on past them, all that sort of thing. Typical Gather behavior. And then… Soriana turns toward the ka-boom. The earth-shattering (Faranth, she hopes it's not actually earth-shattering) kaboom. "What the…?" What was that? Her thoughts reach for Luraoth. Luraoth's reach out to Seryth and Kanekith, her mind a landscape of the Weyr with scattered points of light for the dragons still present. « We are here. » Important fact one. « What was that? » Important fact two, yet to be determined. Soriana, out in the crowd, is somewhat closer to that plume than the rest, and she starts out to investigate. Or… tries to, anyway, she's not quite skilled enough at dodging the worried people asking for a reassurance she doesn't have the facts to provide. Yet.

"Tell the Weyrlings to remain clear of the grounds. Get a head count of every one of them and have Kalsuoth bespeak Seryth when all pairs are accounted for," Thea gasps to Mur'dah as she begins pushing through the crowd to get to the edges. "Soriana, Sorrin…" Ohdamn! "EsiaaaaaAAAAAAAE!!!!" The utterance of her last junior's name begun at an elevated call and ending in a roar (Thea never shouts) is coupled with a dawning suspicion because… there are…reasons. « There is smoke coming from the cliffs above the Weyrling grounds. » Seryth's mindvoice crackles with the electricity of a summer storm, not present in the skies, but in her mindtouch. A pause has her tone modulating somewhat, but still heavily pregnant with an unspent rainstorm's clouds. The senior queen's words contain Thea's flavor, concerned, « Keep the crowds away from the Weyrling grounds please. » Finding Ka'el and Kiena, Thea still searches for her juniors, ignoring the pandemonium around them. "Need to get there!" She says and plunges onward, expecting them to follow as she finally makes it out of the crowd and begins sprinting towards the beach, her plan to follow the coastline around to the Weyrling Beach and then… see what's gone down.

Kera takes a couple of steps towards where Moncerath is communing with other dragons when Innes insist they stay put. Frowning to her friend, she gives a reluctant nod and turns a distracted gaze towards the other side of the meadow. "Fine. But only cause she is alright." Her gaze drifts towards the rising thick smoke with a worried scowl, shifting from foot to foot before finally tryin to flag down Mur'dah, or one of the other weyrlingmasters.

Mur'dah glances at Kiena and shakes his head, "I don't know yet," he calls, turning and running in the other direction. (His ankle is never going to heal). "Weyrlings to me!" he bellows, while Kalsuoth extends the same mental call, summoning all weyrling riders and dragons to a cleared spot where Mur'dah will take roll call. No one is dead, that much he knows, and Kalsuoth shares as much with all the leaders. « No Weyrling casualties. Still waiting for all to be physically accounted for. »

If Galaxy hasn't already started gathering, Kanekith is getting them that way with Ka'el's urging. Alerting the bronze dragon of the Wingleader of potential danger of unknown sources. « Be calm, be ready. » Are the Weyrlings being taken care of? Yes they are. Kalsuoth and Mur'dah are on it. And Thea… is shouting Esiae's name. Uhoh? But he doesn't have time to question. There's a lot going on. Panicked people and worried Weyrleaders and Weyrwoman guests. "It's alright. We'll handle this," he assures though whether or not his voice carries is questionable. Regardless, he's off after Thea, nodding briskly at her. « Ours will take care of the trouble » Kanekith bespeaks the guest dragons of varying colors. « Relax yours. If there is danger, we will alert you »

Kimmila maintains her grip on Th'ero's arm, reaching out for Inri's with her other hand. "I think we should just stay here…" Ready to help, certainly, but…it's not their weyr. Varmiroth lands again and fidgets, but stays clear of the Xanadu dragons. He's a spectator here.

"Are you sure we shouldn't leave, get out of the way?" Kouzevelth has followed Varmiroth's lead, but Inri still looks a little bit pale and shaky. "As much as she thinks we can be of help —" They are not really much more than tourists, and so are — in the way, to some extent, leader-dragons or not. "Isn't Esiae one of the weyrwomen here?" is asked in a lower tone.

Innes does her best to urge people to stay in one place before Mur'dah's bellow reaches her ears. She slides through the crowd after checking to see that Kera has heard as well, reminding others not to move and to pass the message on as she pushes her way over to Mur'dah. At least she can be helpful somehow, right? "Kairoikyriath is trying to hurry the rest up," she reports, for once without an underlying hint of attitude. There's no room for grudges in the midst of a crisis. "I tink most are on their way. What can we do to help? Crowd control?" She's bouncing on her toes, already feeling the itch to make herself useful somehow. There's Prylith and Praela approaching, and several of the others as well.

Th'ero is so used to leaping in to action that to even consider staying back is so alien a concept that he just stares at Kimmila, uncomprehending. What? "But…" Danger! He bristles, uncertain now as logic kicks in. This isn't his Weyr and while the situation is unknown, Xanadu's Leadership is more than capable of taking control. Eventually he exhales heavily and nods. "No, you're right. We'll stay here. Keep folks calm, keep them away…" If they can. At least they can try? "We won't leave," he tells Inri. "But we will stay out of the way." There's a frown for her lower spoken remark and his eyes lift to those dark clouds. "She is." Are they connected? The Weyrleader is hoping not! Velokraeth will land beside Varmiroth, wings twitching against his side as he fidgets just as much as the blue.

Kiena will watch as Mur'dah rushes off to tend to the Weyrlings, relieved and then her focus drifts back to Ka'el. Focused and readied, she nods stiffly and then follows after both the Weyrleader and Thea down the beach.

The name of a junior is shouted to the wind! But it's not Soriana's name. At least it lets her figure out exactly where Thea is, looking through the crowd to see the senior. There. She just needs to extricate herself… oh, shardit, never mind polite extrications, she just ducks out and dodges, settling into the sprint-race. Just like those runners were! Except these ones are on two legs, not four, and they don't really know what the destination is until they get there. Still, Soriana gives chase, and soon she's neck and neck with… Ka'el. Her eyes dart to him, but only for a moment and then she's focused on the ground under her feet as she runs to find out what's happening.

Kera is among the growing group of weyrlings that gravitate towards Mur'dah's bellow. Waiting for Innes to ask her questions, she glances across the meadow, all she can see is a column of smoke rising "Do you know what happen? Are there any injured?" Looking from one face to another among the weyrlings, "Did all the weyrlings come to the races?" Lifting her hand halfway as if trying to see who's not among the group. Bah, There's Praela. That would have been too much to hope for, the annoyhing one laid up in the infirmary so the rest could have some peace.

Thea runs like the wiiiiiiiind. Only… she probably doesn't. Sure, she runs every day still, keeping fit but let's face it: at just a few clicks shy of forty turns old, she's nearly twice the age of her Weyrleader and some of her juniors. They may make it there before she does! The entire group stampedes out of sight entering the beach and rounding the bend, hopefully followed by only a few folks - those responsible enough not to get hurt.

After the silence stretches, the harpers hearty voices call out dancing and music begins to play. Traders add to the determinedly-cheerful din hawking their wares and a beat later the bakers follow suit. While under the pall of that now-dissipating black smoke the gather slowly resumes, even if a lingering uneasiness pervades.

Continues in split scenes: Yeah, Something Blew Up and Uneasy Gather Continues

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