An Exploration Adventure

Xanadu Weyr - Clearing


A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a this and sharp border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.
The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the mountain where, high above, Xanadu's Star Stones and the ever present watchdragon sit on a lonely peak. Directly south is a massive tunnel, fully wide enough for even the largest dragon to fly down. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the Caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the Infirmary is a human sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Tavern. Southwest lies the low ledges currently belonging to Xanadu's queens while north and west a broad path cut by the side of the cliff leads to the Feeding Grounds and due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr.

Word has spread of the strange something 'that could be filled with sand' that Seryth and Kinseth have seen after their mating flight ended in the Wilderness. Xanadu Weyr leadership still wants Kate found, so they have ordered an expedition to overfly the wilderness area and scour the place for more clues. and also to see if they can get a look at whatever all the dragons are speculating about regarding the… other thing. Dragons are in the clearing loading cargo nets with tents, blankets, food. Whatever they need to stay a few days, if need be.

Marte and Vwayath are amongst those gathered, the transport riders quite happy for a change of duty, the fleet-footed brown already carting around various bundles and goods, including a few nets of what looks suspiciously like tropical fruit. However, that's another issue all together, and the woman is lingering around, waiting for the rest of the expedition, gloves absently slapping her other hand as Vwayath is watching each new arrival.

Cenlia has wandered out of the garden to see that wall the activity is about. The girl has a knapsack strung over her back, which sloshes occasionally. She has her four flits with her, the little bronze firelizard growling over the knapsack. Cenlia stops to watch curiously, looking for any familiar riders.

X'hil is supervising the cargo loading, moving from one net to another, making suggestions and re-packing things where needed. "No, no, we'll need more rope than that, go get more from the storage caverns." he tells one young rider, moving on to tell a candidate to be a little more careful with what they're tossing around. Kinseth watches on with amusement. There's a pause then, and the man looks up at the bronze, then peers over towards the garden, ducking around a green dragon, then waving at the gardener. "Hey, Cenlia, over here!" he calls out, standing on a crate to try and be more easily seen. /Somebody/ is excited.

Thea is loading food, mostly into the nets for Seryth. A kitchen worker is helping her with boxes, bags and iced casks of this and that. The goldrider, dressed in her riding leathers is looking mightily relieved to be out of the confines of the Infirmary. She has her crossbow strapped to her back and she's adding a leather parcel containing arrows and several sturdy ropes. She passes the gardener, suggesting, "Might need someone to help out there if you can be spared from the gardens." She hears X'hil calling the girl and waves her towards the bronzer, turning to finish her preparations.

Like Cenlia, Rogawani comes walking out of the caverns with a bag tossed over one shoulder. His eyes grow wide watching all the movement, which is certainly a little overwhelming for a boy who's usually off running messages. Letting out a low whistle, he takes a few steps forward, eyes flitting between dragons and riders. "Can I help loading up?" The boy tentetively asks, trying to keep himself out of the way of people moving to and from the caverns.

If anything was involved with suspicions of the missing goldrider Kate, it was no surprise for Ysa to be involved. She had a light pack enough for herself and was standing by watching as things were being organized. Was she helping? No, of course not. Ellamariseth was, though, as much as the gold dragon can by hovering over those organizing crates and offering an encouraing bugle to those bustling about. See how helpful she can be? Probably scaring them silly instead, though…

D'hadand Siebith aren't late, not persay. The are however perhaps the last pair to arrive, but they were coming from sweeps. That's reason enough, but then again if you know the blue it's probably more for effect - to be sure that everyone else is able to witness his daring entrance. The blue trumpets his presence before diving straight down in a tight spiral towards the clearing where the rest are assembling to pull up at what must certainly be the very last minute to make a soft landing upon which D'had is quick to dismount and get to work assisting in the loading of supplies.

With Vwayath's straps loaded, Marte is getting anxious, and with another glance around her, she's shaking her head. "I can take someone, need be." She offers at large, before she is already moving to mount up, settling herself between Vwayath's ridges, the brown launching himself to begin a slow lazy circle around the clearing, saving space for the others who are still loading up.

Cenlia nods to Thea with a smile, "Sure," and heads over towards X'hil. "Hey," she says and looks around curiously, "What's on?" The girl spies Kinseth and gives him a wave too and a, "Hi, Sir Kinseth." As she speaks, Cenlia moves to help wherever she's directed; this seems like it could be interesting.

X'hil /grins/, and hops down off of the crate, moving over in his odd shuffling gait - his rear still fairly sore after being shot, though healing nicely - to Rogawani, to rope him into helping. "Of /course/ you can! Come on over here, just load things up, it's easy!" he instructs, before turning around to snap at that same candidate, "No, /not/ like that! Be /careful/. /Careful/! Augh! Here, give that to me, /I'll/ do it. You go help that rider with the rope!" he orders, pointing to the storage caverns. Kinseth rumbles a little as Cenlia greets him, and X'hil looks up from doing the candidate's job, then explains to the gardener, "We're off to the wilderness. Kinseth and Seryth saw something odd out there after the flight, we're going to check it out."

A small grin settles on Rogawani's face at X'hil's invitation to help. So, he quickly jogs over to the stacks of supplies, setting down his own bag which gives a few sloshes as if something inside were liquid. However, he's quick to pluck up a net, slinging it over his shoulder. The boy flips up a piece of hide attached to it, spotting that this particular net is set to go to the blue-rider he'd gone up with not long ago. So, Ro' heads over towards D'han, lugging the net along with. "I'll be helping with your supplies, rider." The boy says with a smile towards the familiar rider, offering out the net.

Thea climbs aboard Seryth, peering down at Rogawani. "Seriously we can use all hands on this, uh, trip. If you're free to come along, that is. Are ya good with any weapons? Can ya fish? Climb rocks?" The expression on her face shows she hopes he can. She tugs at the straps, making sure the nets on Seryth are secure and waits for the signal to head off.

X'hil finishes the candidate's work, grinning as Rogawani joins in. They're soon made ready to go, and X'hil climbs up onto a crate on Kinseth's netting, bellowing, "Everyone, mount up!" It's time to go! Hurrah! He scrambles down the crate and up Kinseth's side, then calls out, "If you don't have a dragon, one of the riders will be /happy/ to take you!" he adds, grinning down at Cenlia and Rogawani.

Marte and Vwayath remain in their slow, lazy circle, the brownrider alternating between leaning over to peer at those below them, and shifting to check the various straps that are settled across the brown neck. "Come on, y'all!" She yells, though its unlikely that its heard with the winds.

Cenlia raises her brows at X'hil, "Something …odd?" She waves a greeting to Rogawani when she sees him, saying, "Oh, hey! Thanks for bringing them glasses an' wineskins to the infirmary." And she notices the boy's own sloshing bag and looks /very/ curious. However, she continues to help load stuff, and stifles a giggle or two at X'hil's odd gait, but follows the bronzer, still eyeing the loaded dragons curiously.

D'had hmms. "Oh, right." he nods, towards Rogawani, taking up one end of the net to secure it in place before moving along it's length to make sure the whole thing is tacked well enough to stay in place. All is done rather quickly and just in time it would seem as X'hil makes the call to mount up. One last tug to net and straps alike and the blue rider follows suit, settling into place and securing straps.

With the net taken off of his shoulders, Ro' blinks and looks up at Thea, seeming a little bit surprised at her line of questions. "A little of everything?" The boy answers, not exactly sure how to answer. "No problem!" The boy chimes out to Cenlia. "I've got something new for you, too." He perks, and then runs over towards his bag, snatching it up so that it doesn't get lost among all the rest of the things left behind. Then, he swings the sloshing bag onto his shoulder before being helped up onto Seryth's back. For being only his second time on dragon back, at least having all these others around makes it more exciting than scary.

Kinseth waits until everyone else is ready, peering across the clearing. X'hil whoops, and gives the hand signal to launch. "Let's get this thing /started/!" he calls out, /way/ more excited than he probably should be. Muscles ripple along Kinseth's sides, and the bronze launches into the air, waiting for everyone else before heading towards the wilderness.

Seryth leaps and downsweeps, after her passengers are buckled of course. She flaps hard to gain altitude, still tired from yesterday's flight. She finds an altitude to glide in and awaits the others.


Xanadu Weyr Region - Sky Over the Mountains

As the plains turn to hills, the hills to foothills, and the foothills to mountains, the ground suddenly seems much closer. The mountains below you stretch in either direction, a small pass barely visible somewhere to the south east.

Kinseth circles above the mountains, waiting for the rest of the dragons to catch up. "Amazing view, isn't it?" X'hil notes, peering over the side of the bronze, perhaps trying to see what it was that Kinseth saw. "Dragon eyes…" he finally says, with a shrug.

Vwayath wings along lazily, following the leadership of Kinseth and Seryth, crooning now and then and veering off course to get a better look at this or that. Leaning almost dangerously in her straps, Marte is keeping an eye out, looking for anything that seems out of the ordinary on the quickly changing ground below.

Seryth banks tilting on one wing to make a massive circle over the area. Wind whistles, but all else is silent and the panorama of the Southern Barrier Range is impressive. Upon Thea's direction, she glides closer to Kinseth with a warble. The young queen is looking at something from the air it looks like a round white spot. Thea blinks, peering down, points to the spot, gesturing to the others questioningly. She doesn't know since she's never been here before. Hard to tell at this altitude.

Cenlia is grinning from ear to ear, obviously enjoying the view. She holds tight to those riding straps, though. The peer curiously at… "What's that?" Cenlia's eyes, apparently, were unaffected by that recent concussion as she squints downward to try to make out what it could be. "Dragon eyes?" she asks, tilting her head to peer past X'hil's shoulder toward the bronze's head. She glances back down, though, as she hears a dragon warble.

X'hil frowns at Thea, then squints at the white spot, frowning a little. He looks to Kinseth, then gives the signal to land. Kinseth clarifies to the other dragons: « Land several dragonlengths away, approach on foot. » The bronze relays, then circles down for a landing. X'hil nods at Cenlia. "I'll explain, there." he points at the ground. Land first. Yes.

Riding behind Thea on the gold dragon's back, Rogawani seems only slightly more at ease atop the dragon than when he had ridden with blue Siebith. Even so, the boy still clings to the riding straps, looking down over the dragon's neck. "Is that what we're looking for?" He asks, trying to keep his voice raised above the din of the wind and the shifting of dragon wings. Squinting his own eyes, the boy tries to get a closer look, but soon enough he's jolting back upright, not quite -that- comfortable with leaning over quite a long drop down.


Xanadu Weyr Region - Foothills

The smooth ground of the plains gives way to the foothills of the Southern Barrier range, slowly working their way up into gentle hills, and then larger ones that break up the horizon. The grass of the plains gives way to low shrubbery, which in turn give way to a mixture of trees, and the an abundancy of evergreens.

Here and there the ground levels out, creating ideal camping spots along the slopes here and there. At one such camping spot, under the boughs of a large tree, a section of earth is freshly disturbed, patted back into place, while an oddly shaped rock sits against the tree trunk. Here and there, groups of bushes and low plants sprout up, though while most have small, waxy leaves, there's one that has palm sized, smooth leaves.

Rogawani was okay with this second time up on a dragon up until the landing. The boy's face pales slightly as he very, very slowly climbs down from the dragon's riding straps, looking as if he were a little thunderstruck. "Is that the ground. Yay ground." Ro' says as he sets his feet down, letting out a carefully controlled sigh that implies he might have kissed the ground if there weren't so many riders aorund watching. He leans on the dragon's front leg slightly as he gets his feet underneath him again, trying to look up at the weyrwoman with a smile. "Not used to those landings yet."

X'hil slides off of Kinseth's back, absently rubbing his sore rear. "Shards…" he mutters, obviously not /quite/ ready for riding. Not that he'd ever admit it. "Er, Cenlia, need a hand down?" he turns around to offer, putting on a bit of a grin. He's great, he's excellent, he's not remotely in pain… Ignore the twitching at the corners of his mouth.

Thea waits until Rogawani is safely on the ground, then she slides down Seryth's shoulder and leg. Whee! She flexes her knees and springs just a bit as she hits the ground. If she were still a Weyrling, she'd be busted for that, likely. Loosening the straps of her helmet, she removes it and her goggles, tucking them into the riding straps. She leaves her gloves on, however and walks towards the others, peering about as she does so. "Um, X'hil. I don't think we're the only ones who've been here." She points towards an odd boulder.

Vwayath is one of the last dragons to land, the brown letting the others get settled before joining them, Marte dismounting with the ease of many years experience. Stretching until she pops her back, she looks around her then, hmming softly as if considering her surroundings, thought she does pause to follow Thea's finger to the boulder, tilting her head to look at it. "Good enough place to camp as any, I say. Least we can see anyone coming.." And she turns to look to the northern plains that spread out to the horizon.

Cenlia has to restrain herself from going 'wheee' as Kinseth lands, but she does laugh a bit, partly from nervousness and partly from just how fun this is. She snerks when she sees X'hil running his rear, but accepts the hand down. The girl gives X'hil a grin, saying, "You alright?" But she's already glancing towards Rogawani, and then when Thea speaks, Cenlia furrows her brow and looks around, her gaze landing first on the nearby plants and then the boulder.

D'had slips to the ground once Siebith has taken his turn in landing. Goggles and helmet tucked into straps half-mindedly as the majority of his attention is used in surveying the new surroundings. That done, he turns towards the rest of the group, looping gloves through his belt once they're pulled from hands.

X'hil blinks at Thea, and glances over to the odd shaped rock, frowning. "Hmm. That's… Hmm." he furrows his brow, and moves over to take a look. "The earth has been dug here, too. Recently." he seems to tense up at that. "Keep an /eye/ out." he warns, and Kinseth goes on the alert. The man glances over to Cenlia briefly and nods, he's /fine/. Right. But there are more important things to worry about. Like whose camp is this, and will they be back?

As soon as he's sure that the ground won't disappear out from under him, Rogawani walks up to join the riders and others who have been brought along on this escapade into the wilds. While the others begin looking around, Ro' seems intent to finish one of his deliveries on the sly. He side-steps over towards Cenlia, nudging at one of her shoulders before speaking under his breath. "Here, this is yours." He slides the pack from his back over to her, trying to look his most innocent. "From that rider friend of yours. Ordered it through the hold. Supposed to be Benden white." Of course, with that much taken care of… -now- he begins to glance around the area, trying to see if there's anything the others missed.

Thea turns and spies Rogawani's face, "You ok there?" She smiles gently, "Took me awhile to get used to that, too." She nods in agreement with Marte, looking expectantly at X'hil. She's missed rear-rubbing and mouth twitching, but Cenlia's smirking is noted. Wha?? She grins at the gardener, shrugging, then steps over to peek at the disturbed earth. She pokes a finger into the loose soil. "Should we dig?" Her hand brushes at the dirt and she yanks it back. "Eww! There's something -in- there!"

Marte turns her her head to keep the younger riders and their charges all in sight, even as Vwayath is settling down, crouching to allow his rider to start pulling the various bundles and bags off his straps. "Y'all look around. Vwayath and I'll keep an eye out, for now." She offers helpfully, before she's going back to work, and Vwayath is staring off to the north, watching the plains hopefully.

"An eye out for what?" Cenlia asks as she heads for the rock, stopping when Rogawani nudges her shoulder. When he tells her what's in the bag, the gardener girl grins even more broadly, "Ya serious?" Her eyes twinkle merrily, as she shoulders bag, its sloshing joining the one she already has. "I'm gonna owe B'miel a while peach tree after this," she laughs, and then at Thea's exclamation of something in the dirt, Cenlia frowns and says, "I got a shovel…" and she digs out a long spade from her knapsack and offers one.

D'had was just about to point out that dirt when X'hil does, the blue rider striding over to hunker down beside Thea as she begins to poke at the pile. "Might not be a bad idea," he starts, peering closer when she pulls back her hand. "What kind of .. something?" he inquires just in case she might have an idea. Well she did touch it after all. Yes? The man reaches out a hand towards where the goldrider had been poking about to attempt to brush away the dirt from whatever might be hiding beneath.

"No worries, Weyrwoman. I'm sure I'll be fine by the time we head back." Which could be a very long time for all Rogawani knows. He shoots a smile towards Cenlia and shrugs his shoulders, "Don't ask me, I just deliver it." He opens his mouth as if about to say something further on the matter when Thea's exclaimation draws his attention, and that of others. "Anyone see signs of any recent fires?" He asks, tucking his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "It's not so cold out this time of year, but… it's still chilly in the evening." He's had to do his fair share of camping out while doing longer distance runs.

X'hil shakes his head slowly, "Just… An eye out. For people, most likely. Renegades, campers, who knows…" he mutters. Maybe even rogue goldriders. Cough. He looks grateful when Cenlia pulls out the shovel, waving her over towards that dirt patch. Sure, there are probably shovels in the nets, but packed under who /knows/ how many other things. He straightens up and backs away from the soil, waving Cenlia forward. Ahem. Speaking of the nets… Well, they can't really set up camp until they know it's safe, can they? Meanwhile, X'hil is scowling at that odd rock. "It's not a rock at all… There've been /animals/ here." So, it's animal droppings? That's good, right? Maybe animals dug the hole? …And filled it in neatly? Riiight.

Thea is too busy shuddering to dig. "It felt squishy. Like a body or something." She stands up and steps back a few steps, looks down at D'had. "You- uh, do search and rescue don't you?" Shiver. If it's a body, she doesn't want to be the one who dug it up. She's gonna… look for firewood, yeah. Ooh! There's a dead stick over there…

"Maybe whoever was here." Marte echoes X'hil, pausing in her unloading to eavesdrop on the conversation and concerns of the others. "Oh, just did it up, miss." The older woman says with amusement as Thea shies away, shaking her head and going back to grab the last of the nets, setting about munching on a redfruit as she watches the others, shaking her head, Vwayath still playing watchdog with Kinseth.

D'had nods in reply to the goldrider's question. "Yep." Search and Rescue that is. Pausing, he sends a glance her way, raising a brow but the question on the tip of his tongue of if she's alright goes unasked in the end. "If its not a rock.. what is it?" D'had inquires over his shoulder, turning back to the dirt, brushing it back from whatever's beneath. A moment later its uncovered, "Found your body weyrwoman.." he comments, standing and stepping back from the overturned earth where a bird carcass now lays.

Cenlia eyes X'hil, her frown deepening when he mentions 'renegades', but the girl obliges with the shovel and gingerly begins moving away the earth. She stops though, and boggles at Thea, "What do ya mean 'like a body'?" The girl makes a face. She's not digging up any bodies! But seeing it's a bird, she steps back, glancing at the riders and standing back to watch for now.

With most of the party concentrating on the loose dirt and what lies beneath, Rogawani turns to investigate the rock that isn't really a rock. He spares a look over as the bird is uncovered, but then turns to look at the dung with a thoughtful eye. "He's right, definitely animal. Probably runner, maybe burdenbeast but I'm not certain on that." Crouching down, he does his best to get a good look without actually touching the 'rock'. "I'd guess anywhere from a few days to a seven-day, but not likely much more than that."

X'hil's ears practically prick up at the mention of search and rescue. His old wing… He really must see about getting properly reassigned. He stands, and shuffles away from the 'rock'. "Animal droppings. It's just animal droppings. Don't know what /kind/ of animal," he's no beastcrafter, "but… Yeah." What Rogawani said. "I knew it was /some/ kind of animal." Yep. He glances over to Kinseth with a frown, though he relaxes /slightly/ as Rogawani pronounces it to be at least a couple of days old. Maybe whoever was here has moved on? Then again, a couple of days isn't /that/ long… Hrm.

Rescue…recovery same thing in Thea's mind. She will leave both to the experts. She's moving about the area, picking up deadwood. It's the only dead thing she wants to touch. And she's got an armful of sticks now. As D'had speaks, she reluctantly draws nearer. "My… body?" Why does it have to be hers? She peeks in, "Oh, that's… disgusting.' Then, "What would've buried that and why?" She backs away again and piles the wood nearer to where the nets and dragons are.

"I'm sure its fine.." Marte pipes up, trying to reassure the others, though given the flippant tone to her voice, its likely not enough. Fruit is finished and the core tossed away from the campsite, before she's turning to mark out a rough circle with large stones. "Put them over here, miss. I'll get the fire going once I'm ready."

Cenlia just stands back to watch, but her eye is caught once again by the plants nearby, and the gardener wanders over to the one with smooth, palm-sized leaves. She peers down for a closer look.

D'had chuckles, the reaction seemingly more for Thea's uncertainty of what was found in the dirt than Rogawani and X'hil's discovery of animal droppings. And yes, hers - she 'found' it first. "Don't know on the who or why, just that it is." he comments, using a foot to kick some of the dirt back over what's left of the bird. She is right on one it - it is rather .. unpleasant and chances are good that no one really wants to look at it. Glancing back up the bluerider spots Cenlia wandering off, "What are you finding?" he calls after the girl.

Resting his hands on his knees, Rogawani pushes himself back up onto his feet, having given his moment of expertise. Perhaps that is his purpose for coming along, to be the poop specialist. With another look around the area, nothing else seems to stand out too terribly at least to the messenger. So, taking Thea's lead, the boy begins to collect some more kindling, only giving a sideways glance at Cenlia. "They certainly didn't leave much behind to track." He comments, plucking up a stick from the ground.

"If I were out here, on foot, I'd probably be doing something I didn't want to be found doing either." Marte comments absently to Rogawani, grinning at the boy as she finished marking out her stone circle for the fire, gathering up her fire-starting kit, taking a few tries to get a little flame going, which she settles down to slowly start feeding, twigs and leaves, letting it slowly build strength. "Vwayath hasn't seen anything at all move, yet. We should be okay, here, for at least a night or two."

X'hil straightens up, and scowls. "Kinseth…" He shakes his head, moving over to the bronze, who is peering over towards the collapsed cave. "Alright…" he mutters, turning back to the people gathered nearby. "We should split up, some of us head out to investigate out there," Led by himself and Kinseth. Naturally. "And some stay behind and set up camp…" He pauses, and frowns. "Any objections?" The greenrider from earlier raises a hand, offering to stay and set up camp, along with that candidate that he brought along. X'hil grimaces a little, not liking the idea of that candidate working with anything, not after earlier, but nods.

Thea regather's the pile of wood and moves it closer to Marte's circle of stones. Over her shoulder, she comments to D'had, "If a beast of some sort buried it, feline or something…" but she's puzzling it through. "No, wait there's the runnerbeast poop. Not likely the runner would've made it out alive and I don't smell a rotten carcass." She shales her head, "Only other thing I know of that buries dead stuff is…people." She listens to X'hil, moving towards the group, agreeing. "If we have enough light left to explore, sure. Let's be careful." She heads back towards Seryth to snag a rope. Just in case.

Cenlia shrugs and says to D'had, "This shrub ain't like the other ones around here." She gives the leaves a gentle whack with her shovel as she mutters, "Had enough of shrubbery to las me the rest of m' turns." As she wanders back towards the others, the girl says, "Too bad Eled's still stuck in the infirmary. He's got a better eye than me for southern plants." She nods to X'hil, and adjusts her bags, ready to follow. Yay, adventure!

As he sets down his gathering of sticks and twings, Rogawani nods his head to Marte. "Probably right." With the group seeming to split into two, the boy seems far more interested in going along with the explorations than staying behind guarding the camp. He reaches over to pick up a small bag of food supplies that the candidate had already unpacked and shoulders it up before jogging to catch up with the others. "I'm ready. You need me along, what if you run into more droppings?" Ro' teases, trying to give a smile, but feeling a little less than certain out here.

D'had ahhs, nodding to the girl's explanation of the plant and turning back towards the rest of the group. "I guess.." he idly replies to Thea's guess. "Sounds good to me," he agrees with another nod, striding back towards Siebith to procure a small pack he has for S&R runs. Just in case. Better safe than sorry, yes. The strap of the bag is slung over his shoulder, waiting. X'hil's idea, he can take the lead.

X'hil makes sure to unfasten the net from Kinseth's straps, frowning up at the bronze. "/Wait/. The ground didn't look too stable over there from the air. Might not support you. Just keep an eye out." he orders, then glances over at Cenlia, frowning a little at the shrub. He waves the greenrider over, and the man takes a few leaves of the plant, for later examination. This seems enough for the bronzerider, as he limps over towards the cave, a coil of rope slung over one shoulder and a backpack on his back, with Kinseth left watching and looking left out.

Marte gets the fire going before she's comfortable passing off its tending to the greenrider, and she's wiping her hands on her pants, moving to follow the others in the direction of the odd hole spotted from above by the dragons.


Xanadu Weyr Region - Collapsed Cave

A large bubble, similar to those that now house dragons and riders alike in the traditional Weyrs of the Northern Continent has been hidden away beneath the crust of the earth for some time, it seems. However, the large hole in the top has opened this large sanctuary to the outside world, revealing a cavern easily large enough to house a pair of full grown metallic dragons. Sand and silt, surprisingly hot to the touch, fill the cavern to a comfortable depth, while there seem to be no other entrances or exits except for the one from above.

X'hil lowers himself down the rope cautiously, frowning as he glances down. "That's … odd." he murmurs, as he makes it to the bottom, sand crunching beneath his boots. "It's warm down here…" He frowns, moving away from the rope so that others may come down, and crouching, running sand through his fingers. "The sands are /hot/. Reminds me of…" He trails off, frowning.

Thea slides down the rope, muttering, "So glad I kept these on!" Meaning her gloves, of course. As her feet touch the bottom, she looks around. "It's big…big enough to be a…" she shuffles her feet in the sand thoughtfully. "…hatching ground!" Her eyes go round and she looks at the others with a blink of surprise. "Runner poop and a sheltered cave. Big cave. You don't suppose…." X'hil's muttering of hot is heard and she's slipping off one of her gloves to feel the sands for herself. "They are!"

Cenlia climbs down the rope easily, following X'hil and Thea, and moving out of the way for the others. At hearing their words, Cenlia peers around and mutters, echoing Thea, "Hatching ground?" Cenlia frowns, but says nothing more, though a vaguely worried look crosses her features as she sticks close to the riders.

Rogawani is one of the next to slide down the rope, his hands shielded by the riding gloves he usually wears. Unlike the riders, he's never been out on the hatching sands, but he's seen them from the galleries back at Xanadu. Stepping away from the rope so others can use it as well, he follows Thea's example, reaching his hand down to touch the warm sands with his exposed fingertips. "So… what does this mean?" Apparently, he's a little out of the loop, even if he was dragged along on this adventure, he hasn't heard what exactly they are looking for.

D'had drops down, lowering himself to the floor of the cave after the others. "You think?" he asks in question of the commentary of the others. "Certainly feels like it could be…" he muses, drawing away from group a bit further, following the wall of the cavern.

Marte is the last one down the rope, catching the tail end of the conversation, almost immediately pulling her gloves off, and starting to shift from foot to foot as she looks around her. "Shards… Shards and Shells.." The brownrider swears as she turns to look around her, rubbing at her forehead absently. "Well, there ain't anyone here yet… But.."

X'hil frowns, and takes a look around. "It's a huge crater. Shards. Kinseth and Seryth would /both/ fit down here." /Huge/! He looks a little pale, and slightly guilty. "You don't think… Kate?" he asks, having heard enough to put things together, /especially/ after that chewing out he got. He seems a little shocked.

Thea blinks at the rest of the group, "Niva said Lusiath - she's the queen that went missing awhile ago - had risen to mate!" She walks in a circle while looking up at the sky above them and the rough stone walls surrounding the cave. Then a grave expression crosses her face, "Kefai. Has to be! Or one of his men? Scoped out the place for her clutch." She looks to X'hil, D'had and Marte. "They may be watching. Do you really think it's safe?"

Cenlia still has that shovel, and she keeps it handy. The girl tilts her head at Thea and X'hil, finally asking, "Ya think yer renegade dragonriders might be plannin' on setting up here?" She was present for the infirmary yelling session, and she looks around warily now.

Standing up again, dusting the sand out of his hands, Rogawani looks to the riders, listening to the comments and half-comments. Finally, when Thea seems to fially set the pieces together, Rogawani draws a hand up to his chest, the only sign of his discomfort at the thought of what this place could represent. "Not good." Rubbing his fingers together, the boy just seems a little beyond himself in this place, so, for the moment he sinks into the background.

D'had is a relatively new transfer to Xanadu and as such many of the names being tossed about are unknown to him. The man turns back towards the rest of them as the conversation continues. Heard mention of them on occasion yes, but have the whole story he does not. "Certainly seems to fit the bill for a clutch…" he muses sending a secondary glance around the cavern.

X'hil glances around, stretching his arms wide. "There's no way in from the ground though." Well, /they/ got in from above, but they'd seen it from the air already, right? "She had to have seen it herself…" He scowls a little, and heads for the rope. "Probably a good idea to get /out/ of here." he does admit, glancing warily around the sandy cave's rim. "/Shards/." There's a pause then, and a thoughtful frown. "I just had a thought…" he murmurs, though he doesn't elaborate. Not here. Someone might be /watching/.

"We'll get back to the camp - the dragons would have told us if anyone was lurking. Though, I wish we'd brought a wher.." She murmurs under her breath, before shaking her head, and motioning everyone towards the rope. "Lets.. Lets get out of here." The brownrider is starting to feel equally as nervous as the others.

Thea listens to the others talking, nods when X'hil mentions Lusiath flying over. "It is isolated out here." She also ponders, then murmurs, "Unless this area's riddled with hundreds of these things…" She moves towards the rope, awaiting her turn. "Ought to have sweepriders overfly the range tomorrow. I had Seryth bespeake Kilaueth when we found the pit." Just in case anyone was wondering.

Kinseth senses that Seryth projects a picture of a large hole with sand in the bottom « My Rider says it is large enough to fit two large full-grown dragons and hot enough to hatch eggs in »

D'had nods. There's more to be said on the matter, that much is clear, but he's not so curious of the commentary to come that he can't wait until there's a more .. comfortable setting for the conversation to continue.

Seryth senses that Kinseth wants to get down there and explore. « I can /fit/. But X'hil won't let me. »

Thea waits her turn, then grabs hold of the rope and bracing her feet against the rock walls, climbs up to the rim.

Cenlia follows the others, easily climbing back up the rope after stowing the shovel back in her knapsack.

Kinseth senses that Seryth with burbling water over rock in her tone « Maybe when they leave, we can go in. And warm ourselfves on the sands. Mu muscles need it, I think »

Marte is climbing with less ease than she descended, but soon enough they'll be back at the campsite and able to discuss it all under the watchful protection of their lifemates.

X'hil waits until last, taking one last frowning look around, before climbing back up, after Rogawani. "I'm on my way. Keep your wings on." he mutters, wincing as he makes a wrong move, pulling his wound a little bit.


Xanadu Weyr Region - Foothills

The smooth ground of the plains gives way to the foothills of the Southern Barrier range, slowly working their way up into gentle hills, and then larger ones that break up the horizon. The grass of the plains gives way to low shrubbery, which in turn give way to a mixture of trees, and the an abundancy of evergreens.

Here and there the ground levels out, creating ideal camping spots along the slopes here and there. At one such camping spot, under the boughs of a large tree, a section of earth is freshly disturbed, patted back into place, while an oddly shaped rock sits against the tree trunk. Here and there, groups of bushes and low plants sprout up, though while most have small, waxy leaves, there's one that has palm sized, smooth leaves.

Seryth senses that Kinseth rumbles slightly as the explorers return. His words twinkle like stars in a black as night sky as he agrees, « It'd be lovely, to just relax in the warmth. I don't understand X'hil's worry. /I/ didn't see anyone! »

Kinseth senses that Seryth sighs like rain-moist winds through willow boughs « Be easy. My Rider does not wish to question his leadership decisions. But we -are- bigger than any watcher who would threaten. »

Seryth senses that Kinseth mentally backs down, albeit reluctantly. « I suppose. I should trust X'hil's judgement. I chose him, after all. » he notes, with a disappointed sigh, all the stars in his mind voice winking out briefly into darkness.

X'hil mutters absently, and glances to the cave. "We should… Do something. Set a trap maybe. Come back when she should've clutched. /Something/." Actually, the last is not such a bad idea, the gold is unlikely to leave her eggs, at least. Though perhaps Kinseth should not be on /that/ mission. And then the man is heading towards the campsite, frowning, lost in thought.

A crackling fire throws flickering light in a circle, lighting the tents that have been set up. A circle of logs had been hastily pulled about the fire offering places to sit. A table of food is set up with Fruit, hot rolls and sizzling beefsteaks. And open casket of ice has bottle of various wines, ales and fruit juice available.

X'hil has wandered over and seated himself by the fire already, throwing his jacket over a log in a futile attempt for cushioning. He really doesn't look at all comfortable. He has an unopened bottle of ale in one hand, and a thoughtful frown on his face. Kinseth is keeping watch, as ever, but X'hil still doesn't feel like he can, or should, relax.

Cenlia follows the others back to camp, swinging off her knapsacks and peering inside the bag Rogawani gave her with a grin. She laughs aloud, plopping down near the campfire and pulling out a parchment-wrapped bottle. Removing the parchment carefully, the girl reveals a bottle of Benden White, quite possibly one of the finest wines on Pern. "How'd B'miel manage this…" the girl breathes, and then her eyes go wide as she examines the label. "Shards…" she mumbles and then quickly re-wraps the bottle and stows it back inside the bag. The girl starts to open the knapsack she'd brought from the garden, but then spies the casket of ice, and goes over to snag herself some wine. Yup. She's going to save the /good/ stuff for an occasion. The gardener girl eyes the food set out, and grabs a plate and some food, and grabbing a few meatrolls for her flits. The little bronze firelizard is still jelously guarding Cenlia's knapsack, although the flit appears to be eyeing that cave quite seriously. Cenlia's other flits curl up on the ground around her as the girl plops back down near the fire.

Thea is hungry after all that climbing. And after the Infirmary fare, she's happy to see some decent food for once. She fixes herself a plate of steak, rolls and fruit. She takes a glass of wine and finds a spot nearby and sinks down to the ground with a sigh, leaning her back against a log. Sipping cautiously, she gazes at the fire for a few minutes. "What's the matter, X'hil?" She's noticed his unease. Cenlia manages to cause her to chuckle with her bubbling about B'miel.

X'hil blinks at Cenlia as she re-wraps the bottle, and shakes his head. "Wrong vintage?" he asks, with a frown. Could say that. Looks like it's a far better drink than Cenlia was expecting, by her reactions. He shifts uncomfortably on the log, then grimaces a little, "I was /shot/." he mutters at Thea. Ah, so it is his wound? Well, /partly/. He's physically uncomfortable, sure, but he's also a little uneasy about this place. The greenrider passes by, mentioning that he and the candidate will take watch in a couple of hours, before heading off to a tent. The candidate follows a few minutes later, and X'hil raises a brow. "Hunh. /Those/ two are spending a lot of time together."

Cenlia gives the riders a grin, saying, "Nah, need to get ahold of B'miel before I open them bottles." She glances at the bag, looking quite pleased. The girl then tilts her head at the bronzer, "Could lay a blanket out and lie on your stomach?" she suggests, still grinning.

Thea shrugs about the greenrider. She's seen it all before, and it no longer surprises her. She eyes X'hil for a moment. "You've had a lot more activity today than it's used to." The ground might be softer?" She takes a bite of the steak and chews, juice running down her chin. Wiping that hastily with her hand, she adds, "Did we bring numbweed? Could put a thicker bandage on it to pad it a bit…" Is she offering to do the honors? Nooohohooo. But someone might. Cenlia's blanket idea gets an enthusiastic nod.

X'hil grimaces, and eyes the bottle in his hand. "Lot more activity… But I'll be fine." He grits his teeth and holds on tight to his excuse. Well, /partial/ excuse. And he's holding on in a figurative sense. "I'm not lying down, I've had /more/ than enough of that." he shakes his head, then frowns. Kinseth rumbles, and the man reluctantly opens the ale bottle. Just /one/, he won't get at all drunk. Yes. He can do that… And food, he should get food, that helps. He takes a swig of the ale, then moves over to get something to eat, grabbing a couple of steaks. Good meaty food, yum! …And a piece of fruit. Singular. Cough. He resettles awkwardly on the jacket, and scowls. "It's quiet out here… A little /too/ quiet." There's a lot of hustle bustle in a Weyr, really.

Cenlia grins at Thea when numbweed is mentioned, "Could probably find some growing wild out here, if we didn't bring any." She tilts her head to listen, though, when X'hil says it's too quiet. The gardener girl shrugs. The orchards are always quiet in the evenings, so she doesn't think too much of it being out here away from holds or weyrs. Cenlia munches on her plate of food, giving her little flits bitsof meatroll. Little midnight-blue Rogue attempts to scurry into one of her bags, but Cenlia prods him with a finger and an, "Oy, I see you, ya little sammich thief." Rogue chirps and tilts his head at her innocently, but gets his nose out of the knapsack all the same.

Thea enjoys her food too, listening to the night sounds of the wild area. "I rather like the peace and quiet." Nodding agreement with Cenlia, adds, ""You're used to this, too, huh? I did a lot of camping on the trials of the northern continent with wool shipments." She is watchful, however and looks towards Seryth's dark-shadowed form. Asking X'hil with an understanding tone, "Kinseth pining to be near Lusiath when she clutches?"

X'hil grimaces, and shakes his head. "I don't need numbweed. I'll live." he mutters. Besides, who'd apply it? He can't do it himself, after all, he can't reach. There's a nod at Thea, then. "He's… Shards… He's set on it, that's for sure. He's calmed down some since Seryth's flight, but now he's just torn between the two. Honestly." the man groans, and eyes the ale bottle in his hands. "I… Kind of hope she /doesn't/ clutch." he mutters, with a guilty expression. It feels wrong to the man, to go against something Kinseth feels so passionately about, but, he can't help it. It's eating him up inside.

Cenlia nods to Thea, "Yea, me and my cousins used to go camp out in the jungle around South Boll. Miss the quiet of the orchards. South Boll weren't so busy as it is here, sometimes." The girl also looks around, though she seems more curious about the dragons than any lurking dangers in the wilderness. The girl has gotten used to seeing dragons, but it's still quite an experience to see them up close. She glances over at Kinseth and Seryth when X'hil speaks, "What'll happen if there is a clutch?"

Thea soothes, X'hil, "They'll clutch at different times. And actually, if you think about it, his instinct is a good thing." She sips her wine, watching the bronzer to see if he can figure it out. She busies herself with her own plate to give him time. "And if you want numbweed, a bit of healer-stuff can't possibly be more involved than last night." Absolutely no sarcasm in there. Amazing, huh?

X'hil shakes his head. "Honestly? I just hope we find the clutch… I don't see how they can possibly run search, don't they only have the one rider with them? And, even if she wasn't sands bound, I don't think golds /do/ search." he mutters, with a shake of his head. "The eggs could hatch and die, lacking the proper candidates. Or… Or not hatch at all. I don't really see them impressing to a group of hastily assembled renegades, though." he mutters. Kinseth lets out a mournful croon at the idea of the eggs dying, and the man quickly jumps up and runs to the bronze, muttering "Shush, shush, do you /want/ us to get caught? If we get caught, she won't lay her eggs here, and you'll /never/ find them." /That/ shuts the bronze up, and the man moves back to stand near the fire. "They'll clutch at different times, but Kinseth, he'll want to /stay/. Shards. He's only caught one gold before, and he guarded that clutch the whole time it was on the sands." He sighs. X'hil then stares at Thea a little at the last bit, about numbweed, and last night, with a slight blush. "I, er. I'm fine. I'll just … stand. For a bit." Yes.

At the crooning dragon, Cenlia's flits get to chittering worriedly, but the gardener silences them by shoving bits of meatroll at them. Cenlia raises an eyebrow at Thea and X'hil, but she has a mouth full of food, so doesn't comment.

"Oh, pish!" Thea reacts to X'hil's last statement first. "How long have you lived at a Weyr? Rider take care of their own. Fine - be uncomfortable." She bites her steak, chews then ponders, "Seryth will be fine; I'll be with her. Kinseth's instinct to be with Lusiath may actually draw him here when the time is right, you never know. It's possible. And since he knows this spot… he may be in time." She finishes the last bite of her food and as she chews, she blinks rapidly into the flames for a moment, trying, but not able to keep the tears from her eyes back. Nice to know she and Seryth have no one but each other! Finally, looking at the bronzer for a moment, "I'm sorry things are strained between us X'hil, but remember, you broke my trust first when you lied to me." Cenlia gets a look of apology for having to hear this. The weyrwoman rises hastily and mutters something aout needing to sleep. But she heads off to give and receive support where she can depend on it - from Seryth.

X'hil looks a little lost at Thea's words, and quite guilty. "I, but, Kinseth… /Shards/." he mutters, sinking back down onto the log and knocking back the bottle of ale. It's not his fault the bronze is pining after another gold. Well, not /exactly/. And, he never meant to lie, really. He scowls at the fire, and shuffles closer to where the booze is kept.

Cenlia blinks at Thea's outburst, and watches the weyrwoman go, the gardener scratching her head in confusion. She isn't a rider, so half of what was said only vaguely makes sense to her. The girl glances at X'hil, though she isn't really looking all that sympathetic. The girl digs into the rest of her food, and gives her flits some scritches.

X'hil is just as confused, honestly. Dragons, he gets. Riders, less so. "I … What am I supposed to do?" he mutters, opening a second bottle of ale. He's not drunk yet, but he's thinking about it. "/Kinseth/ is obsessed with the /both/ of them. Be /so/ much easier if he just… forgot… about the /other/ one." Lusiath. Easier for the man, maybe. But Thea does have a point. "Shards… What can I do?" this is aimed at Cenlia, because the man really is clueless. The second bottle is open, but he still hasn't taken a swig of it, and he seems to be reconsidering even opening it.

Cenlia chews on her food, and eyes X'hil. However, the first thing she says when she's swallowed is probably not helpful at all. "Ya made Thea /cry/," Cenlia mutters, and might even sound just a bit accusing. Yeah, Thea's her friend, too. She frowns, though, and says, "What's Sir Kinseth wanna do? Guard eggs?" And then she pauses, glancing back towards the cave entrance, "Can't somebody… I dunno, go bring the eggs back to Xanadu when they're laid? Used to do that with chicken eggs, when the hens used ta lay 'em somewhere wrong, like in a hat or under the barn or something. Never harmed the eggs, none." Of course, Cenlia's only experience with eggs is in the form of poultry. She shrugs at X'hil, though, mumbling a, "And dun lie to her again." Right, because getting in trouble is so much better?

X'hil grunts, putting the lid back on the bottle and slipping it back into the cooler. He'd be better off keeping sober. "Shards… Dragons are more possessive of their eggs. If the gold is guarding, someone's liable to get attacked." Wait, hasn't been been saying over and over that dragons don't hurt people? Well, a brooding gold is another matter… "Best bet is trying to get her to lay them on the sands, but… I really don't think… Man…" he frowns, and shakes his head, attacking his steak half-heartedly as he mulls it over. "I messed up. I was coming straight off a flight with no rider at the time. I wasn't exactly thinking clearly, I would've said anything." he grimaces. "I won't do it again though." he does add, meekly. He isn't exactly /proud/ of himself. Quite the opposite in fact.

Cenlia seems to be out of ideas as she sighs and sips wine, leaning back against the nearest log and frowning. She nods at X'hil and says, "Dun suppose dragons can be dosed with fellis." But then she shrugs and stretches, stifling a yawn as she gathers her bags and flits. "Didja ever apologize?" the gardener girl asks as she pauses, "Usually helps some."

X'hil looks a bit guilty, and lowers his head. "Er… No." he says in a very small voice. Well, there's something on his to-do list for tomorrow, definitely. He glances absently over at Seryth, and sighs. He didn't /mean/ to make Thea cry! "Shards, I've been acting like a brat kid…" he mutters, scowling at his own behaviour. Does this mean a more mature X'hil lies in the future? Aww. Well, it'll take /time/…

Cenlia actually grins a bit at X'hil, "Ya, ye have." That, coming from Cenlia? Heh. And then the gardener yawns and stands, grabbing another bottle of wine from the casket, and says, "Am gonna go sleep. Been workin' the gardens since I got out ofthe infirmary." And she waves and moves off to a tent, waving a goonight.

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