A Mental Maze

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.

With the days passing quickly, the young weyrlings are finally out of the rather boring pattern of eat, sleep, poop, bathe, eat, and their riders have been able to settle into somewhat of a routine. With book-lessons in the mornings, and dragon tending duties come afternoon, they've been encouraged to spend their time with their new lifemate, strengthening their bonds. This afternoon, it seems as if will be no exception, as a small group of weyrlings has been collected and directed towards the Weyrling Grounds, where a series of brightly colored markers have been set up, and V'dim waits with brightly colored scarfs over his shoulder.

Jessa trundles out into the nippy autumn afternoon, right at Ninkasith's side. Her hair is pulled back in a single braid, kept as neatly as hurried moments to tend to her grooming will allow. Her bangs are perhaps a touch on the shaggy side, but you can't win them all, right? Serviceable grey linen trousers, gathered at the ankle and tucked beneath sturdy umber-hued boots, and a long-sleeved tunic of the same material are her garb of choice today. Against the chill, she wears what looks to be a cast-off riding jacket, with a few worn spots repaired by dint of colorful patches of wherhide cut and stitched to resemble fanciful flowers and leaves. As Jessa and Ninkasith make their way out towards the Grounds, snatches of the human side of their conversation might be heard. "I'm not sure what's going on, Ninka." Pause. Insert head tilt here, and a light chuckle. "You're right. It'll be an adventure no matter what."

The dragons may have gotten out of that routine of only eating, sleeping and pooping, but it looks like Phylicia might like to go back to that. With Fauikith's increased activities, the healer-weyrling has been chasing her green just about everywhere, sometimes forcefully browbeating the green back onto Weyrling territory. Her personal long coat is thrown over her shoulders, but its left open as she trails just in front of her forest-hued green, looking to V'dim very much like a nap would be a good idea right now. "I don't know, Faui." She says, basically echoing Jessa. "Just wait a few moments, and I'm sure he'll tell us."

N'shen lags behind the rest of the group brought out by V'dim, his pace slowed as the roly-poly bronze at his heels all but waddles his way after, chuffing slightly. All but skipping as he's forced to curtail is normal head-long dash, the boy peers over his shoulder at Taozyuth, who offers back an apologetic glance and continues to bumble along, barely keeping his belly off the ground.

Its a long while before V'dim finally speaks, the Weyrlingmaster waiting to allow the stragglers to catch up before finally beginning to speak. "As you've all learned, and likely been told, the bond with your lifemate is crucial, and you need to take steps to strengthen it in these early months." The colored scarves are pulled off his shoulder, and held up. "Today, you will be blindfolded, and it will be up to you to not only keep your lifemate's interest on the track, but get them to steer you through the course." He nods at the flags that mark out a zigzag path across the field. And then, he steps up to Phylicia, nodding his head. "You first.." And he's motioning for her to turn around so that he can blindfold her.

Jessa has to rein in Ninkasith's interest in the colorful flags fluttering in the breeze, catching the crouching, tail-swishing dragon with a firm, "No, Ninka. It's not our turn yet." The draconic half of the pairing whuffles, craning her neck to look back at Jessa, eyes whirling in shades of turquoise and emerald. There's some silent interchange between the two, with Ninkasith looking back and forth between her lifemate and the flags. "I know, but we need to let others enjoy the adventure, too." Reluctantlythough much to Jessa's reliefNinkasith turns and shuffles away from the flags… but not before the tip of her tail inadvertantly knocks one down.

Phylicia just blinks as she looks at V'dim. "Bu-..eugh. Right." She turns around obediently, letting V'dim tie that piece of cloth around her eyes. And truthfully enough, she adjusts it after he's done, pulling it more firmly over her eyes. Fauikith watches this process with interest for a few moments, her growing snout hovering in front of Phy's face. "Lend me a shoulder, Faui?" She asks as for a moment, she looks to be as blind as a bat, her hands looking for something to hold so she can steady herself a little bit. The foresty green rumbles in amusement, but amazingly plasters her wings to her body, standing directly next to her partner. "Right. Through the course then?" For a moment Faui's attention wanders to the others there, but there's a firm, loving smack to the shoulder. "Attention, Faui. The course. And of course, those first few steps in tandem? Its amazing the girl doesn't get squashed. It might remind the others of drunks walking.

Taozyuth comes to a chuffing halt and eases back on his hindlegs, tail draping carelessly across the ground. He raises his head over his lifemate's, peering with interest at the markers, though unlike his sister, he doesn't seem to display more than an academic interest in the proceedings. N'shen is more curious, eyeing the course with interest before turning his gaze on Phylicia to watch as she and her lifemate take their turn through the course. "This could be interesting," he remarks softly to the bronze, who chuffs again, this time with apparent amusement, and bats his muzzle against the lad's shoulder. "Of course." The singular response to some unheard comment is laden with amused sarcasm.

V'dim turns to watch Phylicia's slow progress through the course, hmming softly under his breath as she goes, waiting until the young green pair has progressed enough for him to move onto Jessa, lifting up the next scarf and moving to tie it around her eyes this time, his hands shifting to her shoulders to start to turn her in circles twice, disorientating her to compensate for her time staring at the course. "Your turn.." He sets Jessamin in the right direction before backing away. "As weyrlinghood goes on, we will be expanding upon this exercise." He offers briefly.

Ninkasith whuffles at V'dim, lifting her head as he ties the funny fluttering thing around her lifemate's eyes, and turns her around

With the scarf tied around her eyes, and a dizzying spin or two from V'dim, Jessa is sent on her way towards the course. She wobbles a bit as she pauses to regain her balance, turning her head this way and that. Accustomed to being independent and alone, this is entirely new for her, and for a moment, she hesitates to step into the course. "Ninka… please, help me? We need to do this together." Regardless of how fascinating the young green might find flying flags and gruff Weyrlingmasters, the mildly plaintive, worried tone in Jessa's voice reaches Ninkasith, who shuffles over to her lifemate's side. Unfortunately, with her tail swishing in excitement at the prospect of a new adventure, another flag falls victim to her enthusiasm. Jessa reaches out to rest her hand on Ninkasith's shoulder, speaking softly to her. "Okay, let's do this. Together." Their steps are slower, perhaps, than Phylicia's and Fauikith's, but a touch more certain for the care taken. Jessa does, however, need to pause occasionally to redirect her bonded's interest back towards the course instead of a swirling leaf or other moving thing.

As Phylicia and Fauikith carefully make their way through the course, their steps slowly become more certain, more coordinated. And suddenly there's a peal of laughter from Phylicia, and her head turns to where Faui's is, even if she still is unseeing. "Yes, this could be like weaving through trees in slow motion." Comes her comment. And for a moment, as Jessa and Nin start, the pair pauses. Only Fauikith's head turns, watching the pair as they get started before there comes a pleased rumble. The pair take a few moments to reorient themselves, and for a moment Phylicia's hand points in a direction 90 degrees off from the next marker. "No? Oh. Right. There then?" And this time the hand points in the correct direction, and the pair are creeping at a nice, sedate pace towards the end of the course. "You're.. higher up than me. This is weird." Especially since she can't really see where she's putting her own two feet.

Taozyuth chuffs again - apparently, this is his preferred mode of vocal commentary, and N'shen laughs softly, though he makes no reference to the bronze's mental jest. Rubbing a hand lightly over the moss-scattered neck, the boy leans closer to his lifemate, murmuring a soft comment that brings forth another chuff, this one distinctly amused. The bronze watches his sisters as they progress through the course, talons idly scrabbling against the dirt as he waits patiently for his own turn at the course.

V'dim takes a moment to raise his voice, "Watch the flags, Weyrling!" before he's jogging to correct the fallen flags, reorientating them before he's returning to N'shen's side, the boy getting his eyes colored by the dark blue scarf on his shoulder, before he's being given five whole spins, and being sent on his way. The weyrlingmaster's attention then turns to the pairs already on the course, and the one nearing the end, voice calling out directions which are echo'd mentally by Isobeth. "Return to this end of the field, without taking off your blindfold, when you come to the yellow flag at the end." Clear enough? Hopefully.

Every slow step taken by Jessa and Ninkasith convinces the pair that they can attempt the next, each a bit more sure and a hair quicker than the last. "Easy with your tail there, Ninka. It's an adventure, but we -do- have to get through safely." Ninkasith, though she remains with arm's length of Jessa, does turn her head to eye each flag, as if it were some dangerous creature that might hurt -hers-. Hints of amber work their way through her turquoise eyes, as she whuffles at the flags, ready to protect her lifemate. Though she cannot see her bonded, Jessa does turn to look at her with all the noise she is making, two fingers pointed at her covered eyes. "Right here." So much like she worked with her flizzen… who would have thought that experience would come in handy now? "It's alright, we're safe here. Now let's focus, okay?"

Phylicia and Fauikith start involentarily as Isobeth contact them just after V'dim shouts his instructions. But soon they're rounding that yellow flag and Fauikith crows happily in triumph. "Not just yet, Faui. We have to go back." There's a pause and their steps pick up in pace only slightly as they're no longer weaving cones. "No. No you don't get run back to them. /I/ can't go that fast without seeing where my feet go, personally." Oh. Maybe eventually. But today? No. And soon enough, the pair are standing by V'dim and Isobeth again, still blindfolded, but looking directly at the Weyrlingmaster pair. "Sir." Phylicia chirps curtly, her lips curled into a minorly pleased smile. Nevermind the fact they started off as wobbly as drunks.

When the scarf is placed over his eyes and tied, N'shen freezes, hands automatically going up to rip the covering away. But he's being turned, his balance suddenly skewed, and instead he flails out, trying to find something - anything - to grab on to. "It's dark," he whimpers, as his hand comes in contact with a helpfully extended wing, and Taozyuth croons softly, sidling under that seeking hand until the boy has a solid grip on his shoulder instead. "I can't see your light," the young weyrling says, voice thin with anxiety. "I can- oh!" As one, whirling eyes and blindfolded ones turn towards the course, and the pair take their first, wobbling steps towards it. "It- I can see." But his free hand goes up to the cloth about his eyes again, and he shudders, even as the two of them move slowly, but steadily, amongst the flags.

"It'll be okay, boy. It ain't that long, and Taozyuth is there with you." V'dim offers a bit gruffly, watching as the bronze pair set out before Phylicia is approaching, and as she stops and turns towards him, he moves to tug the blindfold off her head, resting it back on his shoulder. "Very good job, Weyrling." He nods, approvingly, a flick of his fingers indicating she can relax some, for now, as his attention returns to the others on the course.

With focus returned to the task at hand, Jessa and Ninkasith's steps through the course grow more sure with each one taken—though Jessa does keep her hand lightly upon her lifemate's shoulder. When one's head turns, so does the other, eliciting a surprised but pleased sound from the former seamstress. "Is this how you see things, Ninka? It's so… clear. So vivid, and -here-. Now." Jessa is almost breathless with wonder as she is momentarily caught up in her dragon's world, seeing things through a fresh pair of eyes. Ninkasith looks up to hers for reassurance, butting her head up gently against her side. Jessa just smiles, and pats her on the shoulder. "Just look for the yellow flag, I trust you to get us there." That is all the encouragement needed for the pair to continue on their way, nearing the yellow flag with a few close calls due to that swishing tail.

Phylicia grins at V'dim, always seeming to like a little praise, but then she's turning when dismissed, jogging back to the barracks. "I'm napping." There's a disappointed whuff from the green as she follows her partner. "No, you can't explore without me. This is your payment for keeping me up with glows at night." And there's good-natured, one-sided bickering from the pair as they retreat back into the barracks. Phy's been giving a bit of time? She's napping. For sure.

Between Taozyuth's continued, unspoken support and V'dim's gruff reassurance, N'shen manages to find his balance - externally, if not quite internally. With one hand planted firmly against the bronze's greening shoulder, his steps are very slow, but steady, and unlike his sisters, the young dragonet does not allow his attention to wander, but instead keeps it firmly on the path ahead. So firmly, in fact, that his muzzle is nearly touching the ground as he watches where his feet, and those of his lifemate, are set to tread, unaffected by the fluttering flags to either side. They may have the slowest pace of any pair to go this course, but they'll make it through. Sometime in the next turn, at least.

V'dim glances over his shoulder at Phylicia as the girl and her dragon vanish back to the barracks, looking back to Jessa and Ninkasith, and then N'shen. "You're doing great, weyrlings, keep it up." He offers, straightening a bit and folding his arms as he watches their progress.

Just a few more steps… ha! Ninkasith is not any too shy about letting one and all in earshot know when she and Jessa reach the yellow flag, letting loose with a loud trumpet of triumph. Surprisingly, no more flags have been knocked down, though one or two may be slightly askew. Ninkasith's cry is echoed by Jessa's laughter, as she gives her bonded an affectionate pat on the shoulder. "Yes, we did it, didn't we? Good job there… now let's see if we can go back." There's a surprised huff, and the young green cranes her neck to look back at where the pair just came from. "No, not through the course again. Around it, let's find the man who kept turning me around… whoah! Not that fast!" Jessa stumbles a bit as she tries to keep up with Ninkasith, who - remembering the one who turned Jessa about - is making a beeline for V'dim. "Hold on, wait for me!"

Okay, so it didn't take a turn. It didn't even take an hour. But it definately took a while before Taozyuth manages to lead a still-shaken N'shen through the course to the yellow flag and back again, finally coming to a halt before V'dim. The boy shakily drops to the ground and claws the blindfold from his face, deep green irises nearly swallowed by black pupils as he drinks in the sights of the grounds, gaze skipping lightly over everything before finally settling on the Weyrlingmaster. Once he calms - either from being out of the dark, or Taozyuth's steady croonings, he offers the older man a tremulous smile and hauls himself up with the help of his dragon's foreleg, standing weak-kneed before him. "Sir," he says, the faint squeak in his baratone voice hinting that it has not quite yet settled.

With a surprising show of patience for the young riders, V'dim waits, arms crossed, as they make their way through the course. Of course, as Ninkasith comes running in his direction, its all he can do to move out of the way, shaking his head as Isobeth calms the younger green. "Good job, Weyrlings. I want you to continue working on this - seeing with each other's eyes." A pause, and he looks them over, and then waves his hand. "You're dismissed. Do not tell your clutchmates what you did today, so it is as much a surprise for them." And with a nod, he turns to depart, leaving them to their own devices for a bit.

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