Weyrling Lesson: Unmanned Flight

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrling Grounds

Cradled in a cup shaped bite out of the mountain, this wide, grassy flat has become home for Xanadu's weyrling dragons. It's set surprisingly high above the level of the beach, visible from the eastern side of the grounds where a long path snakes its way down the hill to the sand dunes below. All other sides to the grounds are bordered by the hard granite cliffs, two entrances clearly visible. One is merely human sized and leads deep into the mountain, to the Caverns. The other is broad and high, the entrance to the Weyrling Barracks.

Neferennu walks in with another older dragonhealer, luckily not the one she despises, since there is a large smile on her face. In a way, this is a lesson for her as well since her notebook is carryed in one hand and the stylus is over one ear. "Stop." The male says, to which she does, at the edge of the grounds. "We are here in case we are needed, that is all. No interferring." There is a bit of disappointment on her face, but it is brief, for she nods and looks over the grounds and at the weyrlings. Particularly she is looking for E’gin, her curiosity wondering how he fared with his 'all life is precious' route during candidacy. Oh look, she is still wearing her white knot too. A nervous shift of her feet as she waits for the weyrling lesson to start, and as such, hers as well. L'mai is watching as well, but is straight faced and only standing there not really looking at any person in particular, eyes mostly on the young dragons.

Thea is sitting cross-legged on the ground in Seryth's shadow working on some stiff leather straps. The young gold is lying relaxed on the grass, her neck arched over Thea's shoulder, watching the struggle between unskilled fingers, resistant leather and the huge needle. Every now and then, almost in tune with Thea's exasperated sighs, the dragon gives a sweet chuckling croon. Like that's gonna help. As Thea takes a break to stretch her neck, she spots Rennu at the edge of the meadow and gives her friend a wistful wave, needle and all.

Thea's not the only one working on straps. A'dar is as well. He is sitting on the ground as well, leaning against Zeituth's side. The blue is curled around his rider slightly, resting his head on the ground with his front legs folded, like a great cat. That is, until A'dar hisses in pain. Zei's head jerks up, and he cranes his neck around to see what's wrong. "No, no…I'm all right," the auburn-haired boy assures the blue, patting his neck slightly. "Just poked myself again…." As he looks up, he too sees Neferennu sitting on the edge of the area, and raises a hand to wave to her, giving a broad, happy grin.

E'gin is among the Weyrlings; he also is working on straps. He's having quite a discussion with Mazunth. "Well, yeah, I shudder every time I do it, but there's nothing else strong enough to make 'em with. Yep, I know they used to be skin, do you have to keep reminding me? I'm trying to forget!" The boy pauses to glare up at the blue. "Unless you'd rather i not fly wit you?" His needle is left poised above the holes he's made with the awl.

V'dim, the scary weyrlingmaster, is here! As well as his green Isobeth. They walk across from the beach looking scary. Well, V'dim looks scary. The older rider is in his 50's but doesn't look quite that old. He's got gray hair cut short into a military style buzz cut. Not even the man's riding coat can hide the multitude of muscles he's got from keeping himself in shape. Big and scary. Isobeth however is not very scary, she's more on the cute side of greens. She struts over to the ground and looks over the young dragons. "Alright, weyrlings. File in straight line, chop chop. We haven't got all day. Riders in front dragons behind. Let's go! Get a move on!"

Neferennu gives a wave to Thea and A'dar, then just smiles and shakes her head at E’gin. Trying to forget that leather is made from cow hide, only treated so it doesn't rot. The smile fades a little as V'dim arrives and she gives a respectful nod right after L'mai, then just watches as something is about to get started. Luckily she got to be here to "help keep watch" over this lesson instead of just getting dragged in to do the dirty work. Like looking through poop to find out why a dragon has diahrrea. A shudder at the memory, then she brings up the notebook and flips it open to a new page so notes can be taken shortly.

Thea stands, bundling the hide thong along with the needle and hands the half-made straps over one arm. As Seyrth is rising to her feet and shaking the grass from her hide, Thea swipes at a spot or two, helping her out. Then she stands in front of the gold at attention, as she's been taught to do. Seryth angles her neck swiveling it around and lowers her head so it is even with Thea's. Blink. Blink. So innocent.

E’gin jumps up, obviously relieved for the distraction from sewing dead skin into something he's gonna have to -wear-, and stands at attention. "Shh, Mazunth. If I get sick now I'll have to leave and you, too." What has the blue said that's got the boy looking so greenish in the face? Probably nothing more than, «I'm hungry.»

At the sound of the weyrlingmaster's shout, A'dar looks up suddenly from his strap-work, the sudden distraction causing him to poke himself again with the needle. He gives a wince and puts the straps-in-the-making away, and stands. He moves to the forming line of weyrlings, and stands in the line. Zei takes his place behind A'dar, both standing straight and attentive to the weyrlingmaster's words.

V'dim walks up and down the row of weyrlings, inspecting riders and dragons. He stops in front of E’gin. "You got something to say, weyrling? I see dry spots on your dragon's hide! Have you been oiling properly? I don't think you have. In fact, I see dry spots and cracked hide on all these dragons. When we're finished today you all will spend the time to bathe and oil /properly/. Crack hides can cause damage." He motions to the dragonhealers. "What do you see here? Two dragonhealers. This is how serious today's lesson is. And this is how serious keeping a dragon's hide properly oiled is. Today we cannot have any wherplay, understood? Any screwing around and you'll spend the next week scrubbing the barracks." He makes sure to stare them all down in turn. "Today we are going to learn to fly. Properly."

Thea's eyes narrow just a bit, maybe a micro-bit. That's her only reaction to V'dim's comment about hide spots and cracks. She doesn't even turn to examine Seryth's hide, which she knows by Braille. At the word 'fly' she does perk up, though and the huge head beside her disappears. The young queen is peering at the sky in anticipation, though she behaves and keeps her wings furled.

Neferennu raises an eyebrow at the mention of spots on the hide but manages to keep her mouth shut for now. This weyrlingmaster sounds a lot like the perfectionist dragonhealer who luckily isn't around as much. At the word fly though a look is given to L'mai who only solemnly nods, to which her eyes return to the weyrlings. "Flying. We'll be lucky if not one gets hurt." He leans down to mutter in her ear, which causes the smile to wipe off her face. These were her friends, still are friends, and to see them or their dragon get hurt.. This might be a bitter lesson afterall. This emotion is quickly removed from her features as the stylus is taken down and a couple scribbles made on the paper.

E’gin gulps and tries manfully to stand before V'dim's scary stare-down. He fails, so he calls upon any girlish qualities he may (or may not have) to help him keep from quailing. He does turn to stare at the blue's hide in horror. "Spots? Ohh nooo…" He also hears (maybe Mazunth hears and tell him) the word fly and he's suddenly beaming foolishly.

A'dar doesn't seem fazed by the scariness of the weyrlingmaster's severe attitude. However, Zei doesn't share his opinion. And something that V'dim says makes the blue's eyes whirl a moment. There are dry spots on Zeituth?! A'dar winces slightly at the mental question from the blue. If there's such a thing as shouting in one's mental voice, that's exactly what Zeituth has done. And then Zei actually turns his head, to look at his hide. Where?! Where?! Where's the dry spots?! A'dar sends the message to his dragon that he should keep his eyes front. Zei whimpers softly, but turns his eyes front again. Perhaps in turning around to examine his own hide, Zei had missed the flying comment, but A'dar doesn't. And the weyrling is suddenly nervous….

V'dim peers around at the weyrlings. "/Obviously/ you won't be on your lifemate while they get their first taste of air. So don't even ask. And don't even think of it until you've been taught. I hope you're all working on those straps. Those who can't make straps that will hold them on the ground certainly won't be up in the air." He furrows his brow. "You all will relay and clarify instructions to your lifemates. Isobeth will also be helping them out if they need to know specific technical details." He turns towards his green. "If you all will direct your attention to Isobeth now." The green stretches out her wings fully. "And get into a spot where you can follow her example. First we're going to stretch out the wings."

Neferennu watches as V'dim goes into the instructions and makes a couple more scribbles down into her notebook. "Stretch wings, dragons by themselves…" This is muttered to herself and then she looks up once more. Specifically she keeps her eyes on Thea and A'dar, with E’gin kept in the corner of her eye.

Thea and Seryth move out to where there is more wing-space, keeping their eyes on Isobeth. Seryth copies the green's movements, unfurling her gossamer wings with a movement that causes the sails to snap a bit as she extends them. "Move more slowly, dear. You need to warm those muscles up." Thea murmurs firmly to the young dragon. She takes another step back. No sense getting thwapped upside the head by a wingtip.

Mazunth semi-skips out to a spot and has no problem keeping his eye on the pretty green demonstrating her wing-stretches. He imitates her wing-stretch and waggles the tips at her for good measure. E’gin just hangs back looking bemused and less green, now that you-know-who isn't mentally salivating over you-know-what. Well, it's no longer food on his mind anyway.

At the weyrlingmaster's bidding, A'dar and Zei move off a little distance so they don't hit anybody…though A'dar actually has to prod the blue a little, with a light poke in the front flank. Finally, the blue moves off so that they don't hit or get hit by anyone. Zei is not the first to unfurl his wings; matter of fact, he's actually one of the last, waiting a moment, examining Isobeth's wing motions carefully. When Zei finally does unfurl his wings, he is a bit more methodical about unfurling his wings, more concerned with the process itself than the ultimate end—flying through the air. A'dar nods. "That's right. Slowly. So you don't overextend," the weyrling notes.

V'dim watches all the dragons now. "Stretch them wings out. More! More! No amount of stretching that you can do will ever equal the amount of pressure the air is going to put on them during liftoff." Isobeth folds her own back in for a moment, then starts a slow, even flap. "Slow flap please. Nice and even. Up and down slowly. We are warming up, not trying for lift off." The greenrider stands in front of Isobeth, feet apart and arms crossed. After a bit, when V'dim is convinced they've had enough he motions a bit and Isobeth stops and turns around. "Dragons in line behind Isobeth. What we are going to practice is a running take off. Your dragon's wings are not strong enough for a standing take off yet, nor are we going to give them the strain of a vertical take off. So what we will be doing is a running take off. For the first few times we will only practice. There will be no actual lift off involved. Understood? So no overflapping of the wings. Isobeth." He motions and the green runs out to demonstrate. Her wings open soon into the run and start a slow shallow flap. It becomes broader as the run continues, until she stops and slows up. No lift off, yet. "One at a time, please."

Neferennu gets poked in the side as the green dragon is about to demonstrate a running take-off motion, then moves further to the corner of the grounds with L'mai. "Ok, I'm moving. Yes I understand, we can't get in the way." Like she would think of trying to get in the way. This isn't an aerobatic show afterall. Once a spot has been found, her fingers of her hand holding the notebook has to hold down the paper during the dragons' wingstrokes so more scribbles can be made. "First exercise wing flaps, start with running take-off motions…" Then it is L'mai who interrupts her and she looks up as he points to Isobeth making the motions of a running take-off. "Oh…" Sketches may appear in her notebook later.

Seryth tilts her head just a bit as she watches Isobeth's running take-off practice. She croons to herself, lifting her head to keep the green in view as she makes her way down the field. The pair walk to take their place in line, and after a bit of waiting, Seryth is up. Well, not up, up. She tries the running and flapping, but trying to get legs and wings to coordinate, well. It's not a pretty picture. There's a few belly-skids in the soft grass as she lifts her legs with her wings. Finally she gets the hang of it on her way back, although the wings are moving with more grace than her legs are.

E’gin is biting his fingers as Mazunth heads out, hippity-hopping down the field, much like a rabbit from old Earth as his wings gently flap unsteadily. This has him weaving a bit from side to side. Good thing there are no trees nearby for him to commune with, or he'd be hugging them along with E’gin. That's right, E’gin's got his arms wrapped around a sapling as he's watching his blue's effort. Faranth knows why. Maybe to keep his knees from buckling.

A'dar nods as Zeituth stretches his wings to full extension. Despite V'dim's instructions to stretch the wings more and more and more however, he mentally instructs Zei to only stretch them as far as he thinks he can without hurting himself. No trying to prove he's the best now—later on, when all the showboaters are at the dragonhealer's with strained muscles, he'll be the best then, because he won't be hurt, he assures Zei. The blue gives a low crooning sound and poses dramatically with his wings at full extend; A'dar snickers. When the dragons are instructed to line up behind Isobeth for a running pseudo-takeoff, Zei follows. Though he seems to be furling and unfurling his wings as he walks. He synchronizes his furling and unfurling with the steps he takes. Perhaps he's trying to get the rhythm down?

Isobeth begins her pseudo takeoff run, and Zeituth folds his wings again and watches her. Ah, like that. He flaps his wings rhythmically for a moment, slowly, to make doubly sure he has the rhythm. If a dragon could cringe, Zeituth does so when he sees Seryth skid on her belly. He whimpers slightly in sympathy. When it's his turn, he walks to the 'takeoff' point, flapping the wings in time with his steps again, to get the rhythm down. Just like the clocks his rider works with, there's a rhythm to it, like a pendulum. Up. Down. Up. Down. Once he thinks he's got it, he takes his own run. And he stumbles, but luckily does not skid. Perhaps because he started slow and then went up to speed. And in the meantime, A'dar is watching Zei carefully, almost forgetting to breathe as he watches the blue take the pseudo-takeoff run. His breath hitches as he sees Zei stumble, and it takes all his resolve not to call out for his lifemate to be careful not to hurt himself. But when the run is finished and Zei seems to be fine, A'dar breathes a sigh of relief.

V'dim grunts a bit at Seryth's skidding, but such was they way of young dragons. After everyone's made a few practice runs and seems to be getting the hang of things he stops the exercise. "Alright. Now is time for some gliding. Not full flight, but your dragon's feet will be leaving the ground. Same as before, enough flapping to get airborn, then gliding back down to the ground." His brow furrows. "/No flying/. None. Any midair flapping and the lesson will be over. Concentrate on keeping your lifemate focused and relaxed." V'dim moves over to pat E’gin on the back. "Pull yourself together, boy! He's not left the ground yet!" Isobeth demonstrates this as well. Same run as before, same flapping. She flaps a bit harder at the end, becoming airborn for just a few seconds. She glides gracefully back to the ground in a bit of a running landing. "Note the landing please. Try to keep a bit of momentum at the end so you don't put a lot of pressure on your legs or do any flops."

Neferennu winces slightly as Seryth skids along the grass but at least she is ok. After all the dragons have made practice runs, her eyes look over the weyrlings and can't help but chuckle at all the worried faces. It will be funny and scary when they take their first riding flight. Well, funny for some, scary for others like E’gin. Eyes slowly return to the page and there are very quick sketches as to what is going on.

Seryth is disgruntled, there's no hiding that. Her head tilts down to glare at her belly, which is now -GREEN-. Thea patpats her soft gilded hide. "Practice makes perfect, Sweetie." If she could only give the young queen a chuckle-croon like the ones she's been getting all afternoon, she would do it audibly. As it is, you can bet she's doing it mentally by the smug look on her face. Ah, revenge. Now for the next step, or non-step to be precise. Seryth watches Isobeth and tries to do it as gracefully as the lithe green does, but she has a bit of a lumbering gait as she runs. The last few paces are more forceful, gouging the soft soil and she jumps with her wings outstreched in a short glide before the lumbering teeth-rattling run is resumed.

E’gin all but squeals as Mazunth is off once more, running and flapping across the field once again. This time he's more coordinated and the course is straighter. At the end, he's leaping and gliding as a bit of a breeze catches his sails and keeps him aloft a wee bit longer than he'd expected. He gleefully squeals as he's airborne. His legs stop moving. As he comes down and his talons brush the grass, he remembers. Almost too late, but he's got it, stumbling and tripping his way back to… E’gin? E’gin has passed out and is flat on his back on the grass. As the blue sniffs him, he sits up. "Wha—? Did you crash?"

"Good job," A'dar praises Zeituth as the blue comes back, with a discontented rumble; he stumbled! That didn't look elegant! A'dar chuckles nervously, the thought of Zei actually leaving the ground making him nervous. For Zei's sake, he calms himself down. He breathes slowly, to calm himself, so that he can keep his lifemate calm during the glide. As Zei goes back to run again, A'dar reminds Zei not to flap his wings in the air. Zei moves to the line. Runs. Flaps. Leaps…! Unfortunately, his wings are not at full extend, and he ends up not catching the air that he'd intended. He pulls his legs up, expecting to glide. Which he does…for about two seconds, looking very pretty. And then? Zei apparently forgets to put his legs back down for his landing, and skids to a landing on his belly. This place is going to be great for a field if this keeps up. A'dar winces; he felt that, and it didn't feel good. He hurries over to Zeituth. "Ouch…are you all right?" he inquires.

V'dim watches. "Keep those legs moving before you hit ground!" Not that his shouts are really helping things. When Zei comes to a belly-flop on the grass he grunts. "Dragonhealers, get in there! Check him out. Everyone see what happened there?" He encourages the ones that made it to practice a few times. "Now we'll work in some flapping and the lesson will be over. Do NOT overexert your dragons. Practice for small sessions and not too high yet. The assistant weyrlingmasters will take over from here. Right now flying only takes place with someone around to supervise." Isobeth heads out to demonstrate a running take off. She flies for a short while still low to the ground, then does another running landing. V'dim then moves aside to watch for a while.

Neferennu takes in a deep breath and lets it out as each dragon takes its turn and lands safely. That is until Zeituth lands right on his belly. She waits though until V'dim says something before running over, though L'mai doesn't wait for the order to move. Therefore he is first at the blue's side, only second to A'dar. "Go get the supplies at the beach!" To which Rennu's run turns towards the weyrling beach, dropping her notebook and stylus at the edge of the grounds. In a minute she is back with a pack that looks to be a bit heavy. "Ok, you get this one. Clean your hands with the redwort and then clean the belly. A'dar, make sure to keep him calm since it might sting a bit. No Zoth, you don't need to come here." The last was to his own blue who had been lounging in the sun at the edge of the weyrling beach half-watching. Neferennu does as she is told, washing her hands with the redwort, then looking towards A'dar. "Could you have him stand up and be still please?" Only once the weyrling has stood does she reach down and wipe off the dirt with a cloth and begin cleaning the affected area of the belly.

Seryth studies the graceful Isobeth and grumbles a soft rumble. "It's alright, she's smaller and lighter. You'll build muscle and then you'll find your grace," Thea encourages the young dragon with a pat, then she motions her out to try the last maneuver. Seryth has the idea that some of the airborne effort starts with the legs, so she's running more powerfully this time. Her wings downsweep with stronger effort, until the last leap and then a mighty flap-flap-flap - glide has her skimming the contours of the field a few dragon-armlength's above the ground. As she runs to a landing, she trills. Pleased, yes. And Thea is too, by the elated expression on her face. It is only than that she notices the huddle around A'dar's Zeituth. She walks over to stand nearby, "Is he ok? Need any help?"

E’gin recovers enough to continue with Mazunth, who does the obligatory run-jump-flap-flap-flap - glide and run-land without too much trouble. They practice a few more times before an assistant signals them to end for the day. As the two head off, some silent communication from the blue to his soon-to-be-Rider has the boy clapping a hand to his mouth and running. There's a bit of heaving going on, too. No doubt Mazunth has worked up an appetite, for the queasy E’gin is running in the direction of the Feeding Pens.

A'dar does as he's instructed by Neferennu and L'mai, directing Zeituth to stand. He mentally notes to Zei that it might sting, but it has to be done. He waits until Neferennu has begun to clean the injury and might have some idea as to the seriousness of it. Then he looks to Neferennu. "Is he all right?" A'dar inquires. The injury isn't bad, just a scrape, but it's probably going to be annoying for a while. Zei whimpers at the cleaning, giving what could be described as a yelp at the stinging sensation. A'dar frowns slightly at his overly-dramatic dragon. "…Zei, I can feel it too. It doesn't hurt THAT much…" he murmurs. He looks up to Thea as she approaches. "Looks like it…it's a little painful, but more annoying than anything else," he slides a sidelong glance at Zei, who seems determined to get attention, all while looking as glamorous as possible. A'dar pokes Zei. "Mmf. You're making a scene, Zei…."

Neferennu looks over the scrape and then points L'mai to it, whom nods at her muttered explanation. Once her suspicion is confirmed, she turns to A'dar with a smile and a nod. "Yes Ara..A'dar, he will be fine. Just make sure he doesn't scratch it and make it worse. It will itch as it heals, just like when you get a scab that itches. If you keep it oiled well, it should heal beautifully. I would suggest you just put some aloe on it if it burns a bit otherwise it should heal fine on its own it looks like." To this she lets L'mai in to exam once more before nodding and saying good work to Rennu before walking off. "You guys been alright?" A look from A'dar to Thea before L'mai is calling for her to follow him back to the annex. There is an apologetic smile but luckily he took the pack back with him. "I better go. If you need to, come find me A'dar. Thea…" But L'mai is calling again so she is turning on her heel, only stopping her run to pick up her dropped notebook and stylus.

Seryth follows Thea and is peering over the girl's shoulder at Zeituth. She croons sweetly and softly at her clutchmate, blue-hued eyes communicating support and comfort. Thea nods at A'dar, then blinks at Seryth. "What is she doing?" This is asked of anyone who knows dragons better than she does. One of the Assistants mentions the mind-power of queens, but it could be Old Earth Greek to Thea. "I'll have to get Zevida to explain that to me." As Rennu and the other dragonhealers head off, a nudge from Seryth tells Thea that she'd better go as well — to the feeding pens. Oh, joy. Feeding Seryth while E’gin is puking nearby. Good things dragons don't get so easily queasy. And off they trot…

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