Welcome Back, Ash!

Xanadu Weyr Region - Open Plains

Open plains stretch in every direction, the tall grass interrupted now and then by a group of rocks suddenly thrust upwards from the ground or a copse of trees gathered around a spring-fed pond. The high grass looks like an ocean as the wind causes it to ripple back and forth, creating the illusion of puddles here and there, even as the ground slopes gently upwards towards the mountains that can just be seen on the southern horizon.
Despite the remoteness, there are lines cut here and there amongst the grasses of the prairie, most in pairs as they track from one direction to another. The campsites of former travelers can be made out here and there where a tent was once pitched, or a campfire once burned - and the remenants of some shelters remain.

Afternoon is waning on this Turnover eve and back at Xanadu preparations for celebrations are underway. The crisp fall day is nearly perfect with skies of deep blue, the scent of sun-toasted leaves and a hint of wood smoke in the air. The grass on the gently-rolling ground has turned golden, for the dry season has come to the plains of Xanadu. Afar off scattered herds of wild bovine graze while closer at hand the workmen build corrals and pens for the planned round up to come. There's a campsite hidden behind a rise a ways off, but the workers have been careful to keep a low profile. A gold dragon glides in from the east to touch down off to one side and swinging down from her is Xanadu's Weyrwoman, her clothes more fitting to hold and hall rather than a rough worksite. It's probable that she's on her way back to the Weyr after visiting Rubicon's Lady.

It's a long commute from the Weyr by foot to the Open Plains. Datsun is here, among the other Woodcrafters, coordinating with the other Journeymen and checking the progress of Apprentices while doing his own work. Ash the Gryphhawk is here as well, having been picked up earlier at first light on this day, tied up to one of the posts at a former campsite a bit of distance away while the people do their work. Apparently Datsun plans on doing some hunting himself later in the day after the day's work done.

Thankfully the Weyrwoman chose to wear a calf-length skirt rather than full-length today and so the tough grasses of this spot do not snag. Still she's careful as she walks towards the corrals to inspect the work. The masters are not here; corrals are deemed journeymen-level construction although they have approved the blueprints for the enclosures. So it is the journeyman- ahh! Thea spots Datsun and heads his way, lifting a hand to shield the sun from her face as she hails him. "Datsun! Hey. How's it going?"

Currently with an Apprentice and showing him a better technique of anchoring a corral post, Datsun blinks as his name is called out by a voice different from those he's been working with. Squinting from the sun's glare, "Who…?" It takes him a few moments to realize that it's a Weyrwoman… dressed up. Not something you see everyday! Leaving final instructions with the Apprentice, Datsun walks out to meet Thea, glancing quickly at where Ash is posted before giving Thea an awkward smile. "I… ah… You're looking dazzling today, Weyrwoman Thea."

Well, the Weyrwoman dresses up for the office too, but perhaps not as fancily as when she goes out on hold visitation. And the days she heads for the office, she rarely emerges to be seen, so perhaps it is, indeed, something not seen every day. While Datsun is making his way over to her, she studies the corrals. To her trained eye and prior experience at Cold Stone Hold, they look as they ought. "Why thank you Journeyman," her smile is gracious and that is followed up with, "They look like they're coming along nicely. No problems, I trust? They’ll be finished on schedule?"

Looking back behind him at the progress of the corrals, Datsun nods. "Right on schedule. You can see we've already got almost all of the posts up and anchored. There's only a couple of posts left before we'll add the fence beams, gates and the like. It won't take long once that starts. It's the posts that take the most time. We're making sure they're secure and level." Returning to the Weyrwoman, "The Weyr is certainly keeping us Woodcrafters busy with these corrals and then the herdbeast complex. Hopefully I'll be able to find some time to build Weyrwoman Briana's crib that the Candidates are giving her. Don't tell her I told you. I think it's a surprise."

Thea nods approval and then shifts her mental gears to more personal topics. "Oh how nice of you!" She smiles, holds up a hand with mock-solemnity and says mischievously, "I promise I won't spill the beans. And you ought to have time on your off hours? I don't want anyone working nonstop." And he gets a stern look, tempered by merriment in her green eyes. "How are you doing, Datsun?"

Datsun chuckles at her mock-solemnity, "I'm glad. Yes, I should be able to do it on one of my days off. I just hope the baby doesn't come before it's done." He's still got two months left, so he should be good as far as the crib goes, blinking at her stern look. This Weyrwoman constantly surprises him, "Uh… if I may be frank with you, I miss Ash. So I went and picked him up. He's here." He nods at the post where the Hawk is sitting.

Thea hasn't forgotten Ash. She half-frowns as she turns her gaze to see the raptor. She's thoughtful, but wary as she says slowly, "I suppose you would miss him." Back to Datsun she says, "I saw the like in the High Reaches plummet to knock my da's camilids off ledges to their deaths." Her hand measures the adult size of the stock animals as being three feet high, so they are smallish creatures. "And we lost newborns to them frequently. You understand why I don't want him over-flying the Weyr?"

"I heard something like that in the rumors." Datsun answers about Thea's past, "But I don't like to put any stock in rumors unless they're confirmed by those that are concerned…" He's watching Thea while she's looking at Ash, "I do understand. Here, though…" He looks around the Open Clearing, "I don't plan on hunting him close to the herd, but it's great land for him. I promise you if you'll allow me to bring Ash back, he will be tied to me or whatever he's on and he will stay outside at the Weyr. And any rules you'd require us to follow."

"I'm less worried about the herds than I am the safety of the Weyr's children and pets," says the Weyrwoman firmly. She doesn't give him an answer about Ash returning right away, considering the bird uneasily for quite some time. Instead, she finally sweeps a hand to the open plains around them, adding doubtfully, "Can you demonstrate his ability to follow your commands here?"

"That's understandable." Datsun answers with a nod, a hopeful expression on his face as she studies the 'Hawk, unable to supress a smile in its entirety, giving Thea a strange lopsided smile as he fights it. "I can." The Crafter walks the short distance to the gryphhawk, pulling the long leather glove onto his left arm. Once that's done, the leather thong is untied from the post and a certain whistle has Ash hopping onto his arm as the thong is re-tied to the same wrist he's on. Half of the distance back to Thea is covered before he stops, recalling how she reacted when he came close the last time. "If you're ready, Weyrwoman." Some Woodcrafters have paused work as they notice the Gryphhawk is about to be put into action, standing and watching.

Thea's gaze follows Datsun's trek over to the post, but she remains in place. She looks grateful when he stops and simply nods, not attempting to close the space. "Ready," she says but sounds anything but. In fact, she looks even more wary, if that is possible, at the thought of the avian being loosed. But she draws a deep breath and nods encouragement to him, "Go for it."

Datsun waits for Thea's go-ahead, looking at Ash once it's given. Whispering something to the avian, the leather thong is untied from his wrist and left hanging from the Gryphhawk's foot. A moment passes until the Hawk is thrown into the air and sent flying up into the sky. The black and amber feathers glint in the wind, showing off the white rim on each end of his tailfeathers. Datsun allows the 'Hawk to gain altitude before whistling a different note which brings the Hawk flying back down to him and landing on the Woodcrafter's outstretched arm. The recall action done, Ash is thrown back into the air to go through more of the motions, sending the 'Hawk flying in different directions with different notes. Up, down, left and right. The last call has the Gryphhawk finding a small creatue when it breaks from cover as the bird's shadow passes over it, plummeting towards the prey… until Datsun performs the recall mode, which has the Hawk coming back to him.

Thea can't help but tense as the bird spreads its wings but even she has to draw a breath of admiration at the creature's soaring flight. She watches the entire demonstration silently, grudgingly allowing, "He's well-trained. And that was a nice catch." Once the gryphhawk is back on Datsun's wrist, she remains several steps away, silent while an internal debate goes 'round in her head. At length she says, "You may bring him back to Xanadu, but-" and her forefinger lifts as she stipulates, "He is only to be loosed in the outlands, not the Weyr proper and he must be tethered when with you at all times otherwise. Do not bring him into the residential buildings, craft buildings, tavern, cafe or caverns." In other words, he'd better consider a cage for the gryphhawk. "One mishap and he'll be permanently banned." She levels a grave look to be sure he'll understand and comply, then relents to smile, "Welcome back Ash."

There's a smile on Datsun's face as he handles the Gryphhawk, retying the thong back onto his wrist. There's a cheer from the observing Woodcrafters for the show put on by the 'Hawk before they go back to work. "Thank you, Weyrwoman. I was thinking maybe he could… help with the Round Up. I'd just have him flying above and help direct the herdbeasts…" He suggests, but there's hesitation in his voice for if Thea will accept the idea or not. Her rules are listened to with seriousness, nodding, "I can build him a cage outside with a shelter. Would it be okay to put it by or behind the Woodcraft's Shop?"

Thea inclines her head graciously, "You're welcome." She considers his request for a few moments, then says decisively, "I think…over with the beastcrafter's kennels would be more appropriate. There he won't be a distraction and the beastcrafters can keep apprentices and children from poking at him. And now," continues the Weyrwoman, "I have celebration preparations to oversee back at the Weyr. You and your crew will need to be ending work soon- ah! Here come the transport dragons now." So saying, she salutes the woodcraft Journeyman and heads for Seryth, gathers her skirts and mounts gracefully. Seconds later the queen launches heavily skyward, circles the area as she ascends to a higher level and winks out *Between*.

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