Survival Camp - Campfire Square

During the day this area is a small clearing that sits just big enough to land four dragons in it, though by night it becomes an inferno where a fire is built up that licks its stray bits of lights to the ground just before the barracks nearby. The two barracks sit across from each other in strong contrast, the leader barracks being a comfortable modern barracks that looks clean and kept in good eminence while the follower barracks has a sharp destitute about it, looking that the ivy and decay is a day away from making the whole thing collapse.

V'dim has been lurking (he does that so well), observing and noting the strength and weaknesses of each and every individual. Now and then he's stepped in to offer a word of advice, demonstrate a technique. Now he strolls through the camp, sharp blue eyes sweeping the area, making eye contact with the candidates and beckoning them to join him at his destination - the fire where Phylicia and Natishen are. He's got a sack in one hand and a handful of long grass stalks in the other. Pausing by the fire, he gives Phylicia a brief nod and a low-voiced, "Well-done" for that stew she's made. The gathering candidates are given a look as he clears his throat, the rumbling bringing some silence. "We'll have one last lesson before you go home."

Natishen eyes V'dim warily as he sips carefully at his stew, settling down on a log near the Weyrlingmaster as he prepares to listen to that last lesson. Other Candidates gather around, three in particular hunching in the back, trying to stay out of the greenrider's sight as much as possible.

Phylicia's cheeks redden slightly at V'dim's actual approval. "It was a group effort, sir. I didn't set the snare." She mumbles, refusing to take all the credit. But she didn't make the stew to let it go to waste by not eating it. As she carefully eats the soup/stew that's been made, chocolate eyes look up at the Weyrlingmaster curiously, not entirely knowing what the stalks are for.

Hunching never works for long with the sharp-eyed Weyrlingmaster. He's moving around anyway as he passes each candidate a stalk, the bundle having been fanned out so they can more easily select one. "As it should be," V'dim replies to Phylicia in response to that 'group effort' as he holds the bundle of stalks her way. He pauses by the fire to eye the coals critically, moving the pot off to one side, then using one of the shovels one of the AWLMs placed there to rake them to a thin, narrow bed. Rocks are kicked to an oblong boundary around the coals before he straightens, raising his voice to address the entire group. "Alright. This is could save your life someday." A sardonic smile touches his wrinkled lips, "Come reach inside the sack and grab a handful please." He doesn't say what they're grabbing, just opens the sack and holds it so they may have access. One bold fellow steps up, reaches in and withdraws…. a handful of insects. He promptly shrieks and jerks, sending them flying. But they're dead… so they just land and lie there.

Natishen takes a stalk in one hand, setting his empty bowl to the side - careful to place it somewhere he'll see it later to wash it. As the first Candidate pulls free a handful of bugs, he recoils, wrinkling his nose. "Ew." Pithy to the last, but he offers no other comment than that, glancing anxiously at V'dim. There's a sinking feeling in his stomach that isn't the stew - the stew that, if his hunch is correct, may not be there much longer.

Phylicia takes one of the stalks as the bundle is held her way, and she carefully sets it to the side while she polishes off the rest of the stew. After finishing her light dinner - which is vaguely more filling than rations will ever be - she stands up with the stalk in hand. She's thankful she finished, since some of those insects go flying into her empty bowl. Next to Natishen she grins a little bit. "You'll watch us gut a rabbit, but dead insects bother you?" She teases the younger boy gently as she steps forward, dipping her hand into the bag next, and letting the next person go.

V'dim could have done this before they ate, but no, that'd be too easy. And easy just… isn't his style. He doesn't show any reaction as insects rain down around him, merely says dryly, "Pick 'em up boy and blow 'em off. Little dust ain't gonna hurt ya." It's not his intention to tease anyone - he's totally serious as he steps around, making sure everyone gets a chance at his sack. Natishen is last before he once again reaches the fire, waiting as Phylicia and the last few take theirs. "Now, don't eat them raw," he warns. As if they're that eager! "They contain parasites," he continues as if there are no gasps or groans rippling through the ranks at that little word 'eat'. Ice blue eyes scan the faces before him as he continues soberly, "Twist the heads off, pick off the wings and legs and poke the stalk down through the center of the body." He nods to that elongated bed of coals. "We'll roast them for a bit first. Not long." That tacked on at the end there to reassure that the repast won't be long in coming. Oh joy!

Having sort of…floated around here and there for most of the time, Rio is forced to come forward when the stalks and bugs are handed out. He takes a…rather small handful of the bugs when he reaches in. He seems to take hold of them with a rather light touch. And he has a distinctly green look about his face at V'dim's instructions. He's not serious, is he? Whatever misgivings he might have about how viable a method of survival this is, he wisely keeps them to himself and prepares his bugs as directed. Carefully. Wiping his hands on his pants often during the process, and shuddering in disgust every so often. "Ew," he mutters under his breath. "Ew, ew, ew."

"It's not the insects," Nash explains quietly to Phylicia as he examines his handful. "It's what he wants us to do with them." He figured it out before most of the other Candidates, and when V'dim confirms his fears, his face turns a little green. "You, sir, are a sa- sad- mean person," the boy mutters under his breath, loud enough for Phy to hear, not quite loud enough for V'dim - or so he hopes. But, he places his pile of insects in his bowl and begins to pick them out one at a time, gingerly pinching off heads, tearing off wings, and stripping poor little legs. Ew, as Rio put it, is quite correct.

What was Phylicia saying about them just being dead bugs? Eatting a cooked rabbit is one thing, but bugs? Her face loses a bit of its color, as she resumes sitting so she can place the dead bugs on her knee. "I think I might prefer to eat lumps of char." She murmurs to herself as she goes about twisting off the heads, and plucking the wings and legs off before skewering them. If her former mentor ever fed her bugs, she certainly never new about it. "Sadistic?" She fills in under her breath, as her chocolate eyes flit up to V'dim briefly. "Indeed. I almost feel sorry for whomever the Weyrlings are." She continues on under her breath, hoping they aren't overheard. After all. They were the good candidates! They caught a rabbit and made stew!

V'dim's cheek twitches, that is all the reactions he shows to the squeamishness displayed by some of the candidates. If he hears any muttered comments, he gives no indication. He doesn't chide, nor berate but explains with his usual gruff manner, "There are times when the only protein you can find are bugs. Not pleasant to think about, but it's true." He demonstrates the technique with deft fingers, stringing the now-headless insects on his grass stalk like some sort of macabre necklace, which is held up so the others can see them. "Right, so these would keep you from starving if you were unable to get back home." Mildly he adds, "And it does happen now and then. Ask Keziah about her adventure sometime." He eyes them from under wiry brows for a long moment, then places his stalk across the coals with each end resting on a rock, instructing, "Give then about 5 minutes, turning them every now and then."

Rio is wise enough to keep his comments to himself, but sends a look to Phylicia and Natishen that says he quite plainly agrees with their assessment! Then he returns to his preparation of the insects, fighting the urge to gag. The head of a very large insect goes squish in his hand and…that's it. "…S'cuse me, sir." And then he dashes into the bushes. He's not gone for very long, though. Given that he's still just as clean as he was when he left, and he's not wiping his mouth when he returns, he probably didn't actually get sick. Just came close. "Agh…sorry about that," he offers sheepishly as he returns to the group. Holding the ends gingerly and looking mildly grossed out, he fixes his own stalk of strung bugs across the coals as well.

"You'll be one," Nash replies in a mutter to Phylicia, confidence oozing in his voice. Cheerful thought, in this context. Still, he acquits himself better than Rio - he doesn't throw up the first time he eats a bug, but he definately makes a gagging noise. Swallowing heroically, he peers around at the others, noting with a smirk that the trio of bullies are half-heartedly still picking their first bugs apart, not even having yet gotten to the roasting part of it.

Phylicia finishes stringing a line of dead insects onto her stalk, and rests is along the rocks like V'dim demonstrated. She could actually, think of some times where a bit of protein would have been nice. "But how do you get over the 'ick' factor?" She mumbles more to herself as she watches the bugs crisp, rotating them. A half-startled look is given to Nash at his confidence. "Why does everyone keep saying that?" But with the bugs nicely toasted, she gives the stick one last look as she picks it up. Best do it with the eyes closed… And she nips the topmost one off, and her reaction isn't nearly as strong as some of the others. Infact, she's almost more surprised as she swallows, working only slightly to keep it down. "Besides for the fact of /what/ it is, and it's crunchy…" Her nose wrinkles as she looks at her stick again. "Not my first choice of food, for sure though…"

V'dim doesn't bat an eye when Rio runs off. He's seen this reaction many times. It's as if Rio hasn't even been gone when he returns, all the Weyrlingmaster says is, "Now's the time to get it out of your system, not when lost and possibly injured or weakened from blood loss." Pale eyes flick to Phylicia and he answers her question about the 'ick factor' mildly, "By doing this exercise." He removes his 'shish kabob of horror', placing it between his teeth and pulls the stalk through, stripping the insects in one quick motion, chewing briefly. "You'll note the texture and taste is very like fried bacon," he notes. He's noting their progress, oh yes, and those bullies get some help as his skilled fingers assist them and he ushers them towards the coal bed. He'll stay and watch them eat too, folding his arms and rocking back and forth on his heels as their insects roast.

Rio smiles to Phylicia. "Probably because everyone's confident you will be," he responds to her query, grinning. "After all, you're so sweet. There /has/ to be a dragon who'll pick up on that." He chuckles. His levity fades, though, when he picks up the stalk again. When he's determined that about five minutes have passed. He looks at the bugs carefully, trying to determine where to start. And then he decides to just get it over with, pulling one roasted bug off and popping it into his mouth with a shudder. He chews…and the disgust fades, with a blink. There's a contemplative look on his face as he swallows the bite. "…Not bad, actually," he comments, pulling a second bug off and eating it, with less hesitation this time. He seems to almost be genuinely enjoying the 'meal'. "She's right, I wouldn't make it my first choice…but that's the idea, to know how to survive when one has no other choices…."

Natishen shrugs at Phylicia as he roasts another reed full of decapitated bugs, turning it every now and then to ensure an even cooking. "Because it's true," he says softly, smiling at her. "You an' Sat an' me, we'll be great weyrlings." Not so much confidence now as wistfulness as he stares at his "dessert". "I think, sir, I will never quite look at bacon the same way again." He casts a glance at V'dim, his comment pitched loud enough for the Weyrlingmaster to hear. If he doesn't smile, he does study the older man thoughtfully rather than warily. Meanwhile, the three bullies are slowly burning their bugs to a crisp, clearly hoping that something will take the Weyrlingmaster's attention on them so they can dispose of the charred remains in the fire.

Best to just get it over with, instead of eating one by one. Phylicia mimics V'dim once more, sticking the rest of the stick into her mouth and sliding them off with her teeth. Chew. Swallow. There's only a few bugs left on her knee, and with a small sigh she beheads them, plucks them, and skewers them, setting them on the rocks to roast. Her cheeks are a soft rosy color at both Rio and Nash's assurances. Or wistfulness. "What happens, happens." She says, attempting to shrug it off. "Rio would probably make a good weyrling too." She points out to Nash, offering the other a little bit of a grin.

Stern, "Sweet might be picked up on, but mean and vindictive is as often sought out. Make no assumptions on what prompts the dragon's choice." Not really directed at anyone in specific when V'dim speaks suddenly. Not quite severe, but it's close and made from under lowered brows. As Rio samples his skewer of delight his face softens (if the Weyrlingmaster could actually form such an expression), "It is actually the best protein, higher in fat than meat." And yes, those bullies skewers are noted. Isn't it lucky the Weyrlingmaster has roasted a few extras? But first he makes them eat their nearly-ruined efforts before handing them the properly-cooked ones. "Valuable lesson, to know the difference and pay attention to your food preparation," he tells them, watching with eagle-eyes to sure they actually eat those insects. Raising his voice, "Right, when you are done, please strike your tarps, roll them and gather your belongings. We're heading home within the hour." As he speaks dragons are landing in the clearing behind him. At least he's giving them more than fifteen minutes?

Rio grins in return at Phylicia's mention of him. "Thanks Phy," he comments. "I think you'd make a better one, but thank you." He chuckles, a little wistfully himself. A moment passes, and he admits, "Truthfully? I don't think I'll be in there with the rest of you. But there's always next time, right?" He nods. "Like you say, whatever happens, happens." He quiets with V'dim's instructions, and offers a cheerful salute, that glimpse of melancholy gone just as quickly as it appears. "Yes, sir!" he chirps, standing as he finishes his bug-kabob. Then he hurries over to his tarp, to prepare to leave. It's been fun out here, but he's definitely eager to get back to the Weyr. The bathing area is calling him; Rio can hear it from here!

"Of course," Nash replies, flustered. "I didn't mean - there's twelve eggs," he points out defensively as he pulls his crispy bugs from the fire, hunching his shoulders slightly. "I just named th' Candidates I know best. I think we'd all make good Weyrlings." His gaze cuts towards the three bullies, then away with a shudder. Clearly, the thought of any of them on dragons leaves him cold. Sliding the reed through his lips, he sucks off the bugs and crunches them, swallowing them with a grunt. "Well. It could be worse. I'm sure." Tossing his reed in the fire, he rises from his log, brushing his hands against his thighs, and moves towards the tent he and Satoris have shared these past several days, preparing to strip it down. Home!

Phylicia gives those bullies a half-measuring look as V'dim mentions dragons going for the mean and vindictive just as much. It certainly kills whatever blush was forming on her cheeks. "Don't worry about it." Phy tries to sooth Nash's bit of a fluster as she finishes her second kabob, also dropping her stalk for the coals to nibble at. V'dim's news is taken well as a smile is put back on her face. Oh, the hot springs are going to have a LOT of candidates in them, in just a few hours. Phy will be there too. On her way back towards her shared tent, she stops by Litze, bending down to talk softly to the girl, before the pair of them are moving to take down their own tent, a trio of 'lizards rumbling in protest as whatever nap is disturbed. "Oh shush." Others can probably hear her. "Go back to my cot and sleep, if you want it so badly."

V'dim's cheek twitches again as his caution is ignored by Rio. He nods at Natishen with a somber face, but a subtle twinkle in his eyes and there's the barest wink sent to the boy. He notes Phylicia's comforting to the boy with a small nod of satisfaction, an ever-so-slight quirk pulls at the corner of his mouth. As the candidates are preparing to pull out, the AWLMS are patrolling the area, watching, helping here and there to tighten the rolls, making sure no one is left behind and moving out to help strap the bundles onto the waiting dragons. V'dim is there as well, handing up candidates to the waiting hands of those riders. When all are accounted for and the last dragon has lifted, he follows. Oh those hot springs will likely be populated by AWLMs as well. as glad to get back to civilization as the rest of them. And when they get back to the barracks? A surprise awaits.

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