Cattle Drive and...Morale-Boosting!

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 of the southern stretches of the plains that stretch south all the way to the Southern Barrier Range, the northern edge of the plains begin but a half-days trek from Xanadu Weyr by foot, three hours by fast-trotting runnerback or ten minute's straight flight a-dragonback. There are signs that travelers pass this way - 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 seen occasionally where a tent was once pitched, or a campfire once burned - and the remnants of some shelters remain.

Behind a knoll, within a small stand of trees, a hidden campsite has been assembled while quite a distance away, out on the plains there is a large rail corral built, one entire side left open, wing-fences on either side to funnel whatever is driven towards it into the corral and swung shut afterwards by three or four people. Off to the side there are several pens and all are brush-covered to disguise them. A trap well-laid and ready to spring.

It's late morning on the Plains and preparations are being made to bring the young herdbeasts home. They've been treated for fleas, worms and watched after to make sure they'd be good living in the Weyr. The older female herdbeasts have been let out this morning and that is wrapping up as the rest are gone over to make sure the ones that are not good for Weyr life are let go as well. Still, there is a good amount of herdbeasts to drive home, and quite a few riders here to help out. Garait is here as well on a runner and is beside Journeyman Pharse who is overseeing everything.

Jarse is here, having brought a few extra runners for purposes of the drive today. Some of them are extra mounts for those already at the camp; others were ridden in by beastcraft apprentices here to assist today. After all, the better they can keep the herdbeasts surrounded, the better things will likely go. He sits on his horse, a rangy dark chestnut stallion, and nods a greeting to Journeyman Pharse.

Muir is here, fit but thin after their stint on the island. Happy to be clean and eating real food again, the boy is gaining the weight back, but slowly as his stomach suddenly rebels at large quantities of rich food. Imagine that. Approaching the runners, he waves to Jarse with a smile. "Got a mount I can use today?"

Idrissa is here for the drive, but she isn't thrilled in the least. She didn't have a choice in the matter as her Journeyman made her come to this thing. She is sitting upon her reddish runner, his mane and tail is braided to keep it somewhat neat and so it doesn't go flying all over the place once the drive starts. Clothing wise she has on a thick jacket, something to help cushion a fall just in case something goes wrong. A soft breath escapes her and she chews on her lip looking well, nervous as she waits for the others to be ready. For the moment both runner and rider is off to the side, waiting it seems, there are a few runners there next to her tied to a post and waiting for others to come and join in the 'fun' it seems.

Journeyman Pharse nods back to Jarse and then turns to Garait to explain a few things. Obviously this is a lesson for the Apprentice Beastcrafter and he's suppose to learn things. Garait nods and does seem to paying close attention, but does glance over to Idrissa to give a reassuring smile.

"Oh, of course." Jarse smiles ingratiatingly to Muir, then turns to look over his shoulder at Idrissa, "Get him Drifter." No please nor thank you, nope - but then, he didn't say please when he told her to come out here today, either. Why would he? That accomplished, the beastcrafter turns back to Muir, still with that smile. "We'll get you mounted up in no time."

Darsce is here! Not that she's going to be much help to anyone and was probably not even on the list of names the beastcrafters had to ask for help. She can ride, true, but is more likely to be watching the cowboys than the cows. And so here she is, sitting on that blooded runner looking pretty and pretty useless both. She's dressed in form-fitting leather chaps, vest and brimmed hat, boots, gloves - the works. If it weren't for the subtly pink-dyed leather to her outfit, she might even look the part of a trailhand. As it is… fail. Oh well.

Muir flashes Jarse a smile, touching fingers to the brim of his hat and giving Idrissa a smile as well. "Thanks." See? He has manners, as he waits for his runner. Drifter, apparently. Looking around, he spots his sister and whistles at her. Not a 'hey, sexy' whistle, but a piercing 'hey sister pay attention to me!' whistle.

Idrissa blinks as she looks up hearing Jarse, she is about to say something perhaps suggest a different runner? No she wouldn't dare think of going against what the journeyman said, right? Her head lowers a touch and she soon shifts hopping down from her runner. "Yes sir." Is said with a faint murmur while she moves onwards to the group of runners looking over Drifter, which is a good runner though she knows he isn't a quick one. This is a drive, runners need to be sturdy quick! Her gaze drifts over to Gunner and she ponders before moving to untie the reins from the post and leads the large black gelding out from the group and over to where Muir is. "His name is Gunner. He'll be better then Drifter for the drive." She seems nervous, and after everything that happened the last time she was out here this shouldn't be a real surprise.

Journeyman Pharse has turned his attention away from Garait for the time being and the camp is packed up, so eeryone is getting ready to leave and he's starting to give orders to that extent. Making sure everyone is on runners, all dragons are gone and people getting ready for the drive home.

Garait is also waiting now and waves at Darsce when he sees her. He does look excited to be here, but there is that slight worries look in his eyes as he glances to the Plains. It should be safe now, since there were no more feline spottings recently.

Jarse doesn't read minds, at least, so thinking against him is safe. The frown he gives Idrissa is probably just the standard one. It must be, because he nods to Muir. "You're welcome," he says as if the thanks were directed entirely at himself, then gives his runner a little nudge to move over to Pharse and listen in to some of the conversation there… thereby missing Idrissa's change to his instruction. As he listens, his gaze alights on Darsce, and his eyebrows rise as he looks her over. "And they wonder why I object," he mutters with a scowl, then gives his head a brisk shake and speaks to Pharse. "Are we ready, then?"

Someone is whistling at her! But nono, that's just the kid brother, shardit. It's really a good thing the whistle is a 'hey you' and not the other because that would just be… eww! Coming from him. Not that… whistles are all that important to Darsce these days, but that's another story. "Hey Squirt!" she calls lifting a be-gloved hand to wave at her brother and in doing so, includes Garait but it's in an absent sort of way because she's scanning the crowd looking for… someone. She then frowns slightly when she doesn't see him. Guiding her mount through the gaggle of bodies and runners, she has her mount moving Muir’s way and subsequently towards Idrissa. Her friend gets a lingering look and then a smile meant to be encouraging. "You're alright there?" she asks quietly enough for mostly just Idrissa to hear.

Muir takes Gunner's reins and sizes up the black gelding, holding out his hand for him to sniff. "Hey there, buddy," he murmurs, reaching up to rub his face and gently tug on his fetlock. To which Gunner replies by trying to nibble Muir's hat. "That's mine," Muir mutters, pushing the runner's face away before he goes to climb into the saddle. And it's more of a climb than his usual spring, what with his island experience. Once seated, he settles deeply into the saddle and gathers the reins, adjusting his hat and moving Gunner a few steps away from the rest of the group, feeling out the creature's mood and gait. "Don't call me squirt," Muir says to Darsce, his eyes flicking over her body. "Why are you here? Are you okay? I heard what you did before…" And his tone suggests some confusion and also a little bit of awe.

Idrissa doesn't even grace Jarse with another look, and she most likely won't unless he commands something else for her to do at the moment. She swallows and glances over the area, half expecting something to come crashing out at her. Her gaze turns back to Muir and she smiles a bit. "He'll treat you right Muir." She has more trust in Gunner it seems then Drifter at the moment, not that anyone would listens to little her on the matter. Once Muir is in the saddle she is back over to her runner and clambers up onto the saddles, RedFeathers whinnes out and gives his head a good toss, seems his ready even if his rider isn't. She grips hold of the reins and goes back to eyeing her runners mane as she waits for the 'go' call to be said. The voice from Darsce soon gets her attention and she glances over to her. "Um Ya I'm alright." Not like she has a choice, Jarse wouldn't take no for a answer, not that she brings that up.

Journeyman Pharse nods. "Looks like we're ready now. Everyone in position now!" Once that is done, the gate is being let open and the herdbeasts wil be let out. Garait remains towards the back since he's going to be with a few beastcrafters who make sure that no herdbeast lags behind.

And Idrissa knows where defying Jarse leads! Though he's been at least minimally fair to her since a certain conversation… that, and she's been busy with things that aren't working under his direction in the stables. Or, as now, failing to follow his directions… but he hasn't noticed that yet. He nods to Pharse. "Very good," he says, and nudges his own runner forward, getting himself into one of the flanking positions.

Darsce grins cheekily back at Muir. "Okay Honeypantsloveboodle," she chirps with a teasing smirk. Why is she here? Certainly not to work! "Oh, you know," she says airily without really answering the question. His comment about what she did at the round-up draws a tiny nose-wrinkle from her and an under her breath mutter something about breaking a nail last time. Though she does slide another concerned glance towards Idrissa, so she knows what he's referred to. She's really too busy the next moment handling her mount, who is dancing in place and tossing his head. The herdbeast milling around and the commotion are tangible and the runner isn't used to them. A cowpony he is not, but thankfully Darce is an excellent horsewoman; her seat is well-balanced and her hands light on the reins.

Muir rolls his eyes and mimes gagging as he urges Gunner away from his sister. Still, his pointed look to her says that he knows something is up, and he's soon going to know /details/. Taking Gunner to his position he waits, ready but calm, for this thing to begin.

Idrissa knows very well what will happen, or at least what could happen if she was to defy Jarse, it is not a pretty thing as she recalls from the past. She takes in a soft breath and sends a faint glance back to Darsce watching her a moment. She gives her runner a slight push forward, fingers gripping at the reins while she is off to join in the drive. RedFeathers takes them over to the side of the drive, the runner seeming to pick up the nervousness from his rider and is working on trying to deal with those fears and not try to stick her in a situation that could cause problems, like being at the back of the herd. Once the word is given, well then the fun will start, right?

The word has been given, everyone has started in their right places to guide the young herdbeasts home. The last of the leave the gates as Garait joins those in the back, making sure the herdbeasts go. Not the best place to be in, but Journeyman Pharse has given his orders. Garait tries to look up toward the front where Journeyman Pharse is, but the Journeyman is busy guiding the herdbeasts.

Jarse glances to Idrissa as she passes near him. "Remember, now. Much as gossiping girls, herdbeasts wish to stick together. Our goal is merely to direct them to their proper place." See? He's being informative and teaching her, as a journeyman should. That's surely a benevolent smile, not a smirk… right? As the herdbeasts start moving, Jarse eases his runner into position to move along them. He does, at least, know what he's doing.

Darsce is sitting right in front of that gate. Oops? Why didn't someone shout a 'get out of the way' at her? The creak of wooden gate, the squeak of defying metal hinges don't phase her, but the nervous calves running at her startles her mount, who plunges forward. It's not enough to unseat Darsce, but she does do a quick glance behind her to see what caused her runner to spook. Those baby cows are chasing her! Or, well, they're not, but she doesn't know that. She yelps and gives her runner his head. Does she have the sense to get out of the way? Not exactly. She and her mount go straight ahead for the moment. At least… she's avoiding the dust this way? Not that she planned it like that, but it works for her!

Muir kind of knows what he's doing? He knows how to ride quite well, and he understands the theory behind herding herdbeasts. You just point them in a direction, right? And apparently that direction is right after his sister. "Move, stupid!" he hollers after her. But he has enough sense not to go galloping in her wake. That'd just make things worse.

Idrissa tilts her head slightly to cast a glance over to Jarse. "Yes sir." Is said with a simple tone. She actually has a thought on the matter on how to drive the beasts, reason being those classes she has taken being in the beastcraft an all. She lifts her head as she catches sight of Darsce and then Muir, she watches the pair a few moments before giving her runner a slight kick which sends him running forward. Rissa makes sure to keep out from getting in front of any of the young herdbeasts. "Darcse, move to the outside!" Better to be on the outside then in front of the herd after all! Perhaps it was good that she started where she did.

"Shard-blasted woman!" Jarse bellows, glaring after Darsce as she runs off in front of the herd. "Get out of the way!" See? Someone did shout it at her. Just, it was a little too late to actually do any good. "Sharding useless!" He, unlike the rest of these unreliable sorts, holds his position on the herd's flank… and continues to complain to anyone near enough to listen, or his runner if there's nobody else willing. "What's she even doing here? Probably pining after some man. Useless! Worse than useless! A distraction and a danger. I have half a mind to…"

Journeyman Pharse reitterates what Idrissa says and yells at Darsce to move to the outside as well. Otherwise everything is going smoothly and the herdbeasts are sticking together like they are suppose to, so it's relatively easy work. Even someone not that skilled in the Beastcraft can get the hang of this real quick. Garait is in the back, making sure the slow moving ones keep up.

Darsce IS moving. So the shout from her brother draws an exasperated look - a very brief look at that - because she's busy not getting her pink self trampled. Death by calf - SO not in her plans today! Idrissa's shout therefore, is the one she heeds, fingers tightening slightly on the right rein, calf pressing to the same flank and they're on the outside edge within several strides. So now she's back in range to tease Muir and speak to Idrissa. Her comment? "Thanks, 'Drissa. Stupid cows." Why'd she come out here now? Oh, right. Pining after some man. Who isn't here as far as she can tell. Darnit.

Muir rolls his eyes when Darsce moves, shaking his head as he urges his gelding forward. "What'd you do that for?" he asks, temper rising a bit and making even his mild mannered mount toss his head and snort. "Why are you here? This isn't your kind of thing. Unless you're showing off your outfit? It's nice. Go home before you get hurt." It's a brother's concern, really!

Idrissa continues to race along near the front, her runner kicking up clouds of dirt and grass while large hooves hit into the ground. Her fingers grip tight at the reins as her gaze lingers on Darsce. "Move it!" She hollers out right before Darsce does indeed make it to the sidelines so to speak. A shake of her head is seen and a faint breath escapes her while she slows her runner a bit to follow along side Darsce for a few moments. "Are you alright? Your welcome." Her gaze turns back to the herd and she offers Darsce a smile. "Just stay at the outside, use your runner to keep 'em moving. You're basically blocking them from escaping." With this herd she is giving her runner a kick and there moving forward to join in helping get the herd moving and staying in the right direction.

"…complain to someone," Jarse continues with his complaints. Nobody wants to listen to him. They never listen to him. Right now, he'll complain with or without an audience. "This is work, not a sharding tea party. Sharding women can take their frilly dresses and go back to their babies instead of interfering with a hard day's work." As he rides, he casts another glare over at Darsce, which also means he notices Muir… who is not on Drifter. "And the lack of respect! They think, just because they have been graciously permitted to learn…"

Moving at a steady pace towards the Weyr now, they do have a good start with just a little incident to begin with. Journeyman Pharse is watching out for troubles ahead and in the group as well, while Garait is looking a little bit bored in the back, but is jeeping up. Boring is good though. No need for excitment today.

Everyone is yelling at her - things are back to normal in Darsce's world. Now that she's on the outskirts and no longer the bullseye for a herd of bawling, running calves, she can laugh, and lift her hat to wave it cheekily at the glowering Jarse over there. "I'm fine," she assures Idrissa, although the herd to her left is given a wary look now and then. Her mount has settled to a walk like the rest of them and she can act like a wall to keep the herd in - as long as they don't turn her way. In that case, she'll be more like a shutter. Why is she here? Her brother has asked that twice now. To which question she merely shrugs a slim shoulder and drawls, "I have my reasons." Which apparently is not to be a cowherd. Besides, "Headed home," she says the obvious with a hint of sarcasm in there. That is after all, the way the herd is pointed. "How was your wilderness trip?"

It's not Muir's fault he's not on Drifter! So when he catches (or senses) Jarse's attention going his way, he gives the man a crooked, hopefully charming smile. Brown eyes settle on Darsce again and he exhales in frustration at her non-answer, before he shrugs. "It was alright. They brought /tons/ of supplies with us though. Klah, even. So I decided not to use any of them. I roughed it, for real. It was fun. Hard, but…I did it." And he is immensely proud of that fact.

Idrissa hears a good amount of the mutterings from Jarse, and it is all things she's heard before so she isn't surprised. Though really who would believe her compared to the journeyman? A glance is sent towards Jarse, whom she just eyes a few moments while biting her tongue, if only she could say something. She continues onwards, a few feet in front of Darsce and Muir, and seeming behind the all mighty Jarse for the moment.
"…that they have some kind of rights!" Jarse might have been winding down - certainly, he just gives Muir a somewhat terse nod - except then Darsce is waving her hat at him, and his glower returns in force… especially as he watches Darsce and Idrissa riding near each other. "Oh, yes, I will complain. This is intolerable! I'll write the Hall myself, see if I don't, and we'll just see what they've got to say about how things are run here…"

Color Darsce not impressed. She stares at Muir, gaping slightly in disbelief. "What? Sleeping on a rock in the rain and missing showers wasn't rough enough for you? Sheesh you look like you starved. What did you eat?" And does she really want to know? "'Driss, how're you feeling? You were out cold when I left the infirmary." Left without permission, but who is she to admit that? "Did the healers give you the sweet rolls and nail polish I dropped off for you?" Tsk, Jarse. Aren't… you in charge? If that’s the case, the hall complaint? Not so bright. It's fortunate Darsce can't hear that to mock you. Looking behind her, squinting through the dust cloud stirred up by the herd she asks idly, "Is that… Garait back there?" Pity him!

It seems things are going smoothly, except for Jarse. Journeyman Pharse does overhear Jarse and comments, "Jarse, if you don't like the way things are run here, leave. And stop complaining or you won't be the only one writing the Hall." With that he nods at Idrissa and offers a wink to Darsce. While this is going on, Garait is helping those in back keep things moving along nicely.

Muir winks cockily at Darsce. "Bugs," is his first answer. "Fish, pine nuts, moss, spiderclaws…It was good!" He listens to Jarse for a moment longer and then urges Gunner forward until he's riding alongside the other man. "Jerky?" he offers, holding out a piece. Ice breaker, perhaps? "Sorry about my sister. And the runner thing. But other than that, this looks like it's going really well, huh? Everything going smoothly. You've done a great job with this. I'm sure the weyr is grateful." Trying to smooth things over? A bit of a different tactic than Pharse takes, and Muir moves his runner back a bit when the Journeyman approaches.

Idrissa is quiet as she hears Jarse, her head lowering a bit more and she eyes the ground. Is there any wonder why she thought about changing crafts? With Jarse acting and talking like this all the time it is a bit nerve wracking to the say the least. Her gaze drifts towards Darsce. "I'm fine, truly.. Working on my studies an all you know?" A faint smile is seen before she licks across her dry lips and glances over to Muir as he goes to try and smooth things over with Jarse. Good luck there Muir. "They did, thank you for them. I would have worn the nail polish but, riding and driving isn't easy on the nails. How have you been Darsce? I.. I never had the chance to thank you for what you did." She pauses a moment. "You, and Jethaniel, you guys didn't have to do that." The feline could have attacked them after all then Rissa would have felt very guilt to say the least. There is another pause as she catches comments from Darsce to Jarse, a soft ah escaping her as she doesn't think that is such a good thing to do!

Oh, if only Jarse were in charge. He's certain the world would be a much better place, if so. Somehow, though, all the unctuousness he applies when he's speaking to people he perceives as being in power has not translated into promotions beyond the bare rank of journeyman or any of the cushy posts he longs for. Yet another thing to feed his ire. He glares at Pharse. "Not in front of the apprentices." Not that it stopped Jarse from yelling. But that's different, right? This time, it's Jarse who might be made to look bad. This is a very important difference, at least to Jarse. The scowl lingers, though as Muir approaches, the beastcrafter works to smooth his expression over. "Thank you," he says, accepting the jerky, and produces a smile in return. "Oh, your sister, is she?" What? He doesn't pay attention to womenfolk. "Well, do try to keep her out of trouble, will you? You seem a nice young man." The smile is oily and fake, but at least Jarse has stopped ranting.

It would have been an inefficient use of Jethaniel's time to come along on the cattle drive. Not only that, it might well have been ineffective. That combined lack - together with his lack of knowledge of any compelling reasons for him to appear - meant that he did not. He has, at least, come partway out to meet the arriving herd. While the Steward is mounted, he does not look entirely comfortable with this fact. Becoming trampled is, however, significantly inadvisable, and he has therefore taken the precaution of riding. He does possess a minimal knowledge of how - though an experienced eye, after looking over Jethaniel's posture, will not be surprised to see he's on one of Xanadu's more placid runners. A small green firelizard perches on the pommel of his saddle, and he pets her with one thumb as he holds his reins and awaits that dust-cloud's resolution into herdbeast and herders.

Journeyman Pharse nods, but keeps his eyes on Jarse some and bhe moves his horse up to Idrissa and whispers to her, "If Jarse gives you trouble, let me know." With that he moves back to where he was and greets the Steward as he sees him. Garait is still in the back with a hankercief over his nose and mouth to keep the dust out. Looks almost like a cowboy….or a bandit.

Pink and green totally go together, right? Because Darsce's complexion is taking on a greenish cast in light of Muir's menu. "Shi- I mean, shells. Moss and bugs. I don't even want to know." Muir's off then and (needlessly, she'd say if she could hear him) apologizing for her. She's free now to girltalk with Idrissa, not that her brother being there would have stopped her. But this way she doesn't have to put up with his eyerolling and stuff. "Yes we did too," snorts the Iernian adding facetiously, "Couldn't let that feline rip up your outfit." That's not what prompted her to act, but she'll never admit it. Mention of Jethaniel brings a bright smile to her mouth and a dreamy sigh, her eyes drifting out ahead of them towards Xanadu and so she spies the figure on the knoll. Is that? Waitwait! It looks like! "Scuse me," she says to Idrissa and cuts her runner at a canter right through the herd, unmindful of how scary those calves were a short while ago to go see if her hunch is right. Oops… again?

Muir grins back at Jarse, the expression leaving his eyes so his lips are a bit fixed. "I'm not my sister's keeper. So. Deal with it. And stop yelling. It's upsetting the beasts." Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but with that Muir turns Gunner around and shows Jarse the runner's backside as he trots along the edge of the herd, making a circle around the back edges of the group and making sure nothing has drifted off.

Idrissa glances over to Pharse, a slight nod seen and perhaps a slight smile. She doesn't think she'll ever do that, there is a bit of fear at the thought and she soon turns her attention to Darsce. For a moment she seems amused. "My clothing?" This is questioned with a curious tone before she ohs a soft chuckle escapes her. "Again, thank you Darsce. Truly.." Her gaze drifts off and she catches sight of the figure some distance off and nods once she hears that Darsce is leaving, she got a feeling. "Have fun!" This said with an amused tone before she lets her attention go back to following the herd to make sure none try to escape it seems. Bits and pieces is caught from conversation between Muir and Jarsce now.

The patterns of dust raised by the beasts hold some interesting similarities to cloud formation, though dust in the sky might be more directly related to cloud seeding. Fortunately, the weather this year has… ah, are those actual herdbeasts he sees? "Excellent!" he says. The green firelizard lifts her head and chirps, and Jethaniel smiles as he starts the runner moving toward the herd. The horse has an easy pace, unlike the rider, and Jethaniel approaches at an oblique angle only to lean forward and stare inquisitively as there's a stir in the herd. "What is… ah. Pink." The center of the disturbance is, albeit subtly, pink. Therefore, he smiles.

There aren't really many stragglers, just some slow moving herdbeasts that need to be motivated to keep up, especially since they've come a long way. Sseems everything is going okay with the beastcrafters and the others helping keep the herdbeasts together and moving. Garait is trying to motivate a couple of the slower ones and it seems to be going okay, whle Journeyman Pharse is up front, giving directions as needed.

Riding through a herd of cattle, as even the little ones stir up dust, is not the best way to remain unsullied by trail dirt. It's not the best way to keep a herd together either. And so in Darsce's wake some of them scatter, darting in several directions but since they don't bawl she's oblivious to that. At least they're too tired to run far? Boulders, shrubs, a dead trunk or two aren't bothered to go 'round, the runner Darsce rides leaping over the obstacles lightly. Both seem to enjoy this, because walking beside a slow-moving herd? Boooooring! Clattering up to Jethaniel, gloved hands tighten imperceptibly on the reins and she circles her mount to walk beside his with a pleased, "I didn't know you ride." Guess who will be her riding companion in future days?

Muir takes up another position on the edge of the herd, watching his sister move away towards…Jethaniel? "Figures," he mutters under his breath. "Older men….Everyone's pairing up. It'll be me and Mikal. And you, Gunnar, but you've got no balls left…" Of course the runner is the only one who can hear this, as Muir pats his neck and shifts a bit to discourage a beast from making a run for that tasty clump of grass over yonder.
Idrissa watches as Darsce moves off, a slight shake of her head seen and she smirks while she continues along, her runner trodding and pushing a calf back into line now and then. "Almost back to the weyr everyone!" She calls out, rather glad at this at the moment seeing how that means she'll be able to escape Jarse's clutches for a while.

"Ah. Not well," Jethaniel says. The tension in his body that keeps him from moving smoothly with the beast and the excessive firmness of his grip bears out the truth of his words. "There have, however, been occasions when repairs were required on remote systems. Therefore… I have learned." His lips twitch with unexplained amusement, and he smiles to Darsce as she comes up beside him, letting the runners continue back toward the herd. "Have you been enjoying the ride?"

A couple beastcrafters do scatter to make sure the herdbeasts don't get far and actually come back as Journeyman Pharse nods in agreement. "Almost there!" he seconds. Hopefully Jathaniel and Darsce get out of the wat because there's renewsed evergy from the rriders and the younf herdbeasts are coming towards them. Garait coughs a little, but the hankerchief is keeping most of the dust out, for which he is grateful.

A critical eyeing is given Jethaniel's seat - nono, not his butt, since he's sitting on that - and Darsce's iceblue eyes lift to meet grey while a slow smile grows for him. "I'll be happy to teach you the finer points of…" the pause is deliberate, "riding," she offers archly. "Next time you have a day off - you do have those right? - send Stardust for me and I'll clear my schedule." Because her schedule is SO busy, right? If it's before noon, there might be some hurried make-up application after scrambling out of bed and throwing herself into some clothes, so she might make him a touch late, but she'll gladly make the sacrifice of her beauty sleep! Herdbeasts? What herdbeasts? Nevermind that they're riding right back towards them, Darsce has forgotten them. "Much better now," she answers Jethaniel with a sunny smile. Oh Muir. You need Darsce to find you someone. She's got plenty of model-acquaintances in Ierne.

So why hasn't she sent some hot girls his way? He /is/ her brother. Muir deserves it! Never mind that he's a Candidate. He's oblivious to her conversation with Jethaniel, keeping his eyes fixed forward and enjoying the ride.

Onwards they go! The young herdbeasts are at least behaving; an nothing is creeping out from the grasses or bushes so that should be a good thing, right? Idrissa lets her gaze drift over the herd, she moves her runner now and then to get a beast back into the group mix. None of them are going to escape at the moment if she can help it.

There is a reason for the obliqueness of Jethaniel's current angle of approach. He has a desire to not become trampled. While he cannot speak to it from personal experience, he is inclined to believe such an experience would be unpleasant. Unlike, for instance, the experience of having Darsce smile to him, which is - to judge from his smile in return - a pleasant one. "I should be happy to learn," he replies. "I do indeed," he says, and his lips twitch to deepen the smile for a moment. The next moment, the smile is still there, but it has a more hopeful cast to it, an angling of his head as he looks at her. "Perhaps such instruction could be followed by a dinner together." It's a good thing the runner knows where he's going, because Jethaniel is not paying terribly much attention to that at this precise moment. On his saddle, Stardust turns her head to brush against him. Breathe, Jethaniel.

They are on the last stretch home, herdbeasts coming in, so far no one hurt, herdbeasts getting too close to the couple ahead as Garait and those in the back continue to push the herdbeasts home.

Becaaaaause her brother hasn't asked her to, that's why! Plus he's still a baby, right? She will probably be happy to introduce a few girls on him in exchange for him modeling for her though. She just needs to focus on her self-taught craft more and less on… Jethaniel But, oh, that's unlikely. Muir might have to poke her in regards to the girls. Darsce is not paying attention to the herd in the slightest. It's a good thing they weren't counting on her help, right? Not that… she has been before now. "Dinner," says the Iernian as though giving it serious thought even though she's more than pleased, she remains outwardly casual. "I think I could manage that," she says nonchalantly, though the brilliant smile she bestows upon him right afterwards might give her away.

Muir urges his runner on, glancing now at Darsce and Jethaniel. And rolling his eyes. And on they go, and he'll help where he can and then brush down Gunner, before heading off for his next round of chores.

Idrissa doesn't give Darsce and Jethaniel to much attention at the moment. Well the job at hand is enough for her full attention to be on after all. She casts a glance back to Garait to see how his doing a his still at the rear after all. "We're Almost hope Garait!" This called out with a smile and wave to him.

The beasts are moving slightly faster than when Jethaniel began this trajectory, most likely due to the anticipation of the beastcraft riders of being home being communicated to their runners and, from there, to the cattle. This means Jethaniel and Darsce are more likely to arrive at the back of the herd than its front, given sufficient distraction to prevent them from correcting this trajectory. Sufficient distraction is present. Jethaniel's grey eyes are steady on Darsce, and he nods confirmation. Yes. Dinner. He is asking her to dinner. He awaits her reply with hope and uncertainty, petting Stardust with only a tiny fragment of his attention as the green reminds him that he still requires oxygen. Then… she says yes. Only a probablistic yes, admittedly, but the existence of a significant chance is sufficient to make Jethaniel grin widely, nodding his head and soaking in the brilliance of that smile as if he is, briefly, a plant consuming carbon dioxide and she is the sun permitting him to photosynthesize.

So, the herds do start passing by the couple without incident and they are heading to where the new paddocks are for the herdbeats. Garait does hear Idrissa and yells backas he waves at her, "Yay!! Home!!" Journeyman Pharse is giving directions and there are those waiting ahead to open the paddocks and allow the new additions in.

There's dust in the air at the rear of the herd, but does Darsce notice? Probably not until they're lagging enough that the fine stuff is sifting down onto them and causing her to cough. Then she'll tighten her fingers subtly on the reins and slow her mount so they fall behind far enough to allow that dust cloud to settle in front of them. And so shrouded by the dust-curtain, her brother can't see her flirting with the steward of Xanadu and roll his eyes - unless he loops back around the herd in his oh-so-helpful herding work. She's an excellent horsewoman, but four hours of riding is something she's unused to, so when they are passing within Xanadu's boundaries, she hops down, bemoaning her sore tush while rubbing it, opting to lead her runner. Self-conscious? Not Darsce!

Idrissa tilts her head as she finds herself riding past Darsce and Jeth. A slight smile and wave is offered to the pair before she is onwards towards the paddocks. She pauses while watching as the young beasts go on insie all nice and orderly like. Yay! A soft breath escapes her and she'll wait to see if there is anything else for her to help with before attemping to sneak off. She has some lessons to do after all.

In this metaphor, the dust clouds are most likely clouds. However, they do not maintain the tone, and as such, it is likely more effective to dismiss the metaphor. Additionally, coughing is not a part of the metaphor; therefore, it sufficiently jars Jethaniel that, as he coughs, he actually looks around and realizes where they are in relation to the herding operation he came here to supervise. Fortunately, the beastcrafters have it under control, and Jethaniel's runner is inclined to continue to echo Darsce's until given other instructions - which instructions the steward hesitates to give. The cloud recedes before them. "…perhaps I shall give them a chance to settle the beasts before asking for a report," Jethaniel says. It is, admittedly, self-justification, but it does have the advantage of plausibility. Besides, he can always make up his hours at work later tonight… or this evening. Not on his rest day, though. His rest day is now otherwise occupied. When Darsce dismounts, he does the same, and Stardust leaves the saddle to come perch on his shoulder, looking rather proud to have discovered this position. Darsce's complaints about her rear manage the seemingly impossible - they make Jethaniel look away from her. It's that, or risk himself staring at the sore body part in question.

The herdbeasts and beastcrafters move on past the happy couple and leave them to chat. They go on towards the new herdbeasts area where others are waiting for them. Garait waves at the couple as he passes and moves on.

And so the unselfconscious Darsce patpats her rear briefly, never realizing she might make things hard for Jethaniel. Or maybe she does - don't put it past her - but she soon is on to other thoughts, the primary one is, "When is your day off, Jethaniel? And where are you taking me?" The girl needs to know what to wear, after all! And mark her calendar. And be sure her darling daddy is sidetracked enough not to 'happen by' and toss his jacket over her shoulders because she must be 'cold'. The herd filing into those new corrals doesn't interest her as much as Jethaniel, because, let's face it, nerdy charm wins hands down over slimy-nosed calves, even if they do have doe-eyes. Garait does merit a waggle of gloved fingers though, as he passes by, and a sing-songed, "Congratulations!"

There are, assuredly, things Darsce might make hard for Jethaniel. His smile, on the other hand, comes easily. "In three days," he answers to her first question, but the second makes him hesitate. Where is he taking her? He usually eats in the caverns, or else from a tray. This is not suitable for a dinner together. The last time he ate in a restaurant was a hurried meal at Landing. The last time before that… "Ah…" Garait's presence distracts him for a moment, long enough to wave before returning to his considerations as the two of them head for slimy-nosed calves and official reports - or Jethaniel does, anyhow. Darsce may just continue to be along for the ride, or at this point, walk. As he has not yet come up with an answer, Jethaniel instead asks, "Is there somewhere you'd like?"

Three days! This is enough time for Darsce to scramble and re-arrange a few Iernian appointments that can wait in favor of a more enjoyable one. She nods serenely to this news as she walks along, reaching the enclosure that those calves are entering, she climbs the rails, throwing a slim leg over the top one and sits, now eye to eye with Jethaniel to whom her smile is a touch… impish. "With you?" Her gloves are slipped off in the pause, "Anywhere." She might seem choosy about many things but she seems to honestly mean it. She'd probably even handle dinner with his family with few Darsce-slip ups. "I'll leave that up to you," she promises.

Jethaniel's gaze wanders the herdbeasts in the enclosure, but the beastcrafters are still rather busy - though one of them, on her way, offers to take his horse back to the stables, which he gratefully accepts. That done, he steps closer to the rails, resting one hand against them and nodding to Darsce. The dinner is with him, yes. That is rather the point of it. Her answer makes him smile, but does not entirely remove the thoughtful furrow from his brow. "Very well, then," he replies after a moment. "However, if I am to decide, I have a condition for you."

Now Jethaniel has her curious. "What's that?" Darsce asks of his condition. Perhaps it's her street-wise instincts kicking in here that has her asking before she agrees to anything. She's not wary by any means and may not even be aware she's countered his request with a question of her own, her manner relaxed and a smile, if a touch perplexed, still on her lips. Her blue eyes are on his, rather than the young herdbeast back there, though she can hear them getting settled in the paddocks behind her. She retains the reins to her mount, her slim, manicured fingers toying with them absently. In a few minutes she'll need to hop down and see to him, but for now she lingers, moth to flame.

Now that he's ascertained he's not immediately needed as Steward, Jethaniel's eyes are back on Darsce's. The beastcrafters will come find him when they need him. He smiles slightly, seeming neither surprised nor displeased that she's asked instead of simply accepted. "If you are not enjoying yourself… tell me." The tone makes it a request, an earnest one - though Darsce is not generally known as a person hesitant in voicing her opinions. Nevertheless, Jethaniel asks.

Garait settles in after returning his horse to the Stable and returns to the Paddock to see if there is anything he can do with the new additions to the area. He smiles and waves at Jethniel and Darsce, "Thank you guys with the work you've done with the herdbests today and from the roundup."

If it's one thing Darsce is learning, it's that Jethaniel does not fit the mould of any guy she's ever known. Silence meets his earnest request and she doesn't try to hide her surprise. Has she ever pretended to enjoy herself around him? That he thinks she can even be that nice draws a slow, disarmed smile to form. It makes her want to lie and say yes just to protect him from feeling inadequate, but she can't make herself do that. Past the lump that has formed in her throat that makes her answer given a touch shyly, "I… alright. I promise." And here's Garait, the mood bubble pops with her amused laugh. Work? Yeah right. She's too much a realist to call what she did work. On either occasion. "Becaaaaaause you needed me to slow them down, right?"

Jethaniel sees that surprise, and for a moment, his expression begins to turn anxious. Has he asked too much? Is this some sort of thing he should know not to do? Before his concern can grow too strong, her smile has begun, and that worry melts out of his face once more. "Thank you," he says softly, and his hand reaches over to cover one of hers gently, curved to match the shape of it but seeking simply to touch, not to take. Grey eyes watch blue, and before anything more is said by Jethaniel, Garait speaks instead, and he turns to face the beastcraft apprentice. His hand has no intentions to leave, but he attempts to redirect his mind to Stewardly matters. "Ah. Yes. It seemed to go well today. Does Pharse have any problems to report?" Like, say, an Iernian model rampaging through and scattering his carefully gathered herd?

"Slow then down? Well…maybe, but you did boost the morale of those who were riding Darsce, and made things interesting for sure." Garait smiles and nods at Darsce then. He looks at Jethaniel then, "Journeyman Pharse has no problems to report. No herdbeasts were lost and all made it here, so why report anything?" Maybe it was because she annoyed Jarse enough to make it worth overlooking.

Darsce only gives Jethaniel a nod because she's still at a loss for words regarding his unexpected and very sweet request. She turns her hand over and attempts to lace her fingers with his if he allows it, as he turns to his attention to his work matters. She'll amuse herself with playing with his fingers, tickling them lightly with the nailtips of her other hand while she perches there atop that fence and watches his profile. Distractions anyone? "Aw, aren't you a sweetie," she tosses at Garait with a wink somewhere in there before falling silent to mess with- ahhh… listen.

Those fingers of Jethaniel's are willing enough to lace together with Darsce's, but they're slow to catch on to her aims. It takes a few moments, a slow interplay of fingers moving and brushing against each other and curving in again. His hand is caught, but Jethaniel is trying ever so hard to keep his attention on business - though not hard enough as to take his hand away, even when teasing nails make the fingers twitch out or curl tighter. A distraction? Certainly. But he tries to control his expression, at least. "Ah. Good. I am glad there were no problems." His eyes flit sideways, glancing at Darsce, but it's simply to smile before returning his attention to Garait. His fingers, all together now, curl against hers for a moment before relaxing to let her resume that teasing. "What are next steps?"

Garait smiles, "Well, I believe just making sure they settle in okay, make it through the winter, but I'm sure Journeyman Pharse will send you reports and tell you, or he'll schedule an apointmnt. Unless you need anything, I need to go do some woek on my lessons." He waits around and if there's nothing, he'll leave.

Darsce is enjoying herself immensely. She doesn't require any attention while the steward-herdbeast business goes down because she's adept at reading Jethaniel's responses to her toying with his hand, watching him through her lashes with a tiny cat-got-the-cream smile. Shameless! And right in front of an apprentice, too! They seem to be wrapping things up and she knows the stewardly-stuff will soon be needing Jethaniel's attention elsewhere - sadness! The fence rail is not the most comfortable seat anyway, especially to a slightly saddle sore behind, so she hops down lightly, reluctantly allows her fingers to slip from his and says to both of them in an overly-dramatic, "Parting is such sweet sorrow. But I'll look for ya tomorrow!" Back of hand to forehead, then, "Ta ta guys." She wavels fingers to Garait, blows Jethaniel a kiss and skips off to unsaddle and tend to the runner by rubbing him down, currying, feeding and watering him. Yes – she does that herself - after her gloves are slipped back on to protect her manicure, of course.

"Indeed. I shall be speaking to him later," Jethaniel says to Garait. He knows his calendar has an appointment with the beastcraft journeyman for… sometime. He might ordinarily know when, but he's being distracted at the moment. "Nothing to keep you from your lessons," Jethaniel says to Garait with a wave of dismissal, then permits his distraction to become his focus once more. He has a smile for her, though the expression turns briefly to disappointment as she releases his fingers. She's right, of course - he has other stewardly things to do. There's a dispute about the plumbing installation in one of the cottages, one which may involve a further investigation into certain accounting records, as well as… well, a number of other things. There is a great deal to be done. The smile returns at the dramatics. "That I shall say good night, till it be morrow," he replies to her, and inclines his head. "Good night, Darsce." And, despite all those many things, he waits just a moment longer to watch her go before heading off to all those various stewardly tasks.

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