Wilderness Hunting

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.

X'hil emerges from his tent early in the morning, and relieves the greenrider and candidate from watch, narrowing his eyes slightly at the rider as the two head off to the same tent. He moves to sit gingerly on one of the logs pulled up around the campfire, having brought a pillow from his tent. The pillow is for sitting on. He's scowling into the fire, Kinseth is keeping watch over the area while the man wakes up. Some thoughtful person, perhaps the greenrider, has set up a spit over the fire, with a tin hanging from it. In the tin, klah boils.

Rogawani, on the other hand, is leaned up against a pile of supplies off-loaded from one of the greens taken on this expedition. His head is cocked off to it's side, using a rolled up blanket as a pillow. Rather than sleeping inside the tent like any sane person, it appears that the boy had been trying to back up those on watch, just incase they became… indisposed with each other. However, Ro' has nodded off, murmuring occasionally in his sleep as a bronze firelizard sits in his lap, tail-twitching as. It hadn't been around the night before, but lizards have their way of finding their owners sooner or later.

Thea is still asleep but she hasn't been in a tent all night, from the look of things. She's wrapped in a blanket and curled up in the crook of Seryth's folded forearms, which form a cradle of sorts for her rider. The young queen is reclining cat-like, her tail curved about her frame, twitches slightly, her neck curves about, snaking along the ground so she can rest her head. The dragon also is asleep, but brown Shep faithfully watches between short naps from his perch on Thea's shoulders.

D'had is up, but awake is quite another story. The bluerider half stumbling as he rounds Siebith back towards the campside of the blue, its no wonder though given the slit that he's allowed himself to see through at present. Mind not that twig cracking! "..stupid sharding nature.." Donn mutters mostly to himself.

X'hil didn't sleep at all well last night, by the looks of things, but the aroma of klah is waking him up a little. He rummages around for a mug, then pours himself some of that delicious delicious wake up juice. Yum. He smirks a little at the sight of Rogawani, all tuckered out after trying to keep an eye on that rider and candidate. He glances over at Thea then, curled up in the crook of Seryth's forearms, the man looking rather … guilty? Hmm. He calls softly to D'had, "Klah over here. 'S good… I'll bet the candidate made it. I've had /his/ klah, and it's horrible." the man mutters, the last about the greenrider.

Cenlia is awake! Kinda. She drags herself out her tent with an enormous yawn, and trudges over towards the klah, mumbling a sleepy, "Mornin'," at anyone already awake. Grabbing a mug, the girl frowns slightly, heading back to the tent and rummaging.

The cracking of a twig is what initially rouses Rogawani, followed by ears catching X'hil's statement about klah. "Huh, wha…" The boy blinks himself awake, lifting one gloved hand to rub at his eyes. "Morning aaaalready?" He yawns midway through the word, then licks his lips. "Was just resting my eyes." He says as if excusing his impromptu nap. Sitting up, the little firelizard is moved abruptly, nearly tumbling to the ground. With a little chirrup at his owner, the lizard scrambles to the hair and disappears between. "Why… does he only show up when I'm asleep or busy." Half-asleep still, Rogawani's nose twitches to the smell of klah.

Snapping sticks, crackling fire, voices…the sounds drift Thea's way and she stirs, rubbing her eyes as she sits up. The queen's eyes open immediately. Perhaps she was feigning sleep for awhile. After a few moments, the Junior stands, stretches and balls up the blanket, chucking it into the opening of her tent as she passes. Her hair tumbles darkly about her face, nearly concealing Shep. She'll take care of that later, right now it's shading her eyes. Passing Cenlia as the girl is heading back into her tent, she grunts, but it could've been a murmured, "G'mornin'." Approaching the fire, she takes an empty mug from the rack of dishes and pours some klah into it before plopping down on the ground, not really looking at anyone as she sips. Someone's not a morning person…

"Thanks," D'had replies, "Never had a five turn old make your klah then." he chuckles making his way over towards the fire and the waiting klah and grabbing a mug without much more mishap mind sloshing a bit of the hot liquid when he attempts to pour it. This is quickly followed by a string of select cursing muttered around the base of his thumb. Seems he's waking up quick enough once he's gotten that first swig of drink through his lips.

X'hil smirks a little as people start to wake, reaching for more mugs, and starting to pour klah for the 'late' risers. It's still quite early really, barely even light yet. The man keeps flicking glances towards Thea, and Kinseth moves a little closer to Seryth as the queen's eyes open, crooning softly. He's careful not to make too much noise, he was warned about that last night. "So. Uh. Klah's good." X'hil murmurs, not really sure what else to say. There's a bit of a stare at D'had, and a muttered, "Hot, though."

Cenlia gives Thea a sleepy smile, watching the goldrider for a moment before glancing sideways at X'hil. But the girl continues to rummage by her tent. Cenlia eventually ends up going through her knapsack. She pulls out a wineskin and a nearly-full, unmarked ale bottle, but then turns the knapsack upside-down. When nothing else falls out, her brow furrows, and she packs away the booze again. The girl peers around, sipping her klah. Three of her flits - Rogue, Mizzle, and Trouble - emerge from the tent and worry at her, and she finally gets up, firelizards scrambling onto her shoulders, and looks around for food.

A bit slow to rise, Rogawani runs a hand through his hair as he yawns again, stretching his arms up over his head. After nearly toppling a net down onto himself in the process, he scrambles to his feet and does his best to look innocent. "Ehem." Sheepishly, the boy edges his way over to the fire to claim one of the mugs of klah, letting the heat warm into his fingers. "Morning." He offers in general, too many folks around to address too many individually. However, Cenlia does catch his eye as she searches through her knapsack. "Missing something?" He asks curiously, washing down the question with a mouthful of klah.

Thea merely sips her klah silently, although D'had's cursing draws a blink and a wry smile. She reaches up to scritch Shep's chin as he begins softly cheeping. "Hush. I'll get you some food soon," she whispers to him. With her face hooded with tangled hair, she's sort of protected from showing her morning face to the world. Clearing her throat, she answers Rogawani a muted, "G'mornin." She does peek over at the rummaging gardener. "If ya need a hairbrush, I'll lend ya mine," Thea calls out to Cenlia. Obviously needing to use it herself as well.

D'had nods after a second, more carefully taken, drink. "Noticed," he grumbles in reply to X'hil. Hot, yes, that probably should have been expected. He is however far more awake now, turning a grin towards Thea around the mug in hand. "So…" he starts, addressing the half question towards the bronzerider.

X'hil frowns as he catches Cenlia's glance, and suddenly finds his klah /very/ interesting. Cough. It takes him a moment to work up the courage, and he raises his head, and shifts a little, turning to Thea. "I, er, I'm," he hesitates, glancing to Cenlia, thinking back to the chat last night. "I didn't mean to … lie. Or hurt anyone. And… I'm sorry." He's sincere, he actually means it. His timing could /probably/ be better, but at least he's making an effort? X'hil blinks at D'had, still not entirely awake himself. He glances about the campground, and frowns a little. There's really not much else to do here. They do have quite a bit of cleaning up and repacking to do before they go, though. And… food to eat. There's still leftover steak and rolls and fruit from last night, right where they left them. "Food." he answers D'had. Breakfast before they do anything. Food make brain go.

Cenlia nods to Thea and heads back towards the fire after snagging a few meatrolls. She munches one while breaking up another for her flits. The girl is still peering about as she sits near Thea and Rogawani, saying, "Charmer's rocks're missing. Shardin' flit's gone off somewhere again." She frowns at the surrounding wilderness, but doesn't seem overly concerned. She looks back at X'hil when he speaks, then glances at Thea quickly before digging into her breakfast.

Food is something you don't have to say twice to Rogawani. First-course or leftovers, he'll take either with gusto. Grabbing up a couple of rolls, some meat, some fruit, he has one whole sandwich nearly packed away into his mouth before he even has the rest of the plate settled. Which is probably why some of the weyrbrats joke that he has a secret portal to between in his stomach. With a somewhat lazy motion, Rogawani lets his rear end come down onto a bag containing some of the extra blankets. It makes for a squishy place to set one's rump. Taking care not to be -too- rude, he swollows before asking, "Suppose he'll come back before we leave. Mine seems to find me no matter where I get off to."

Thea smiles back at D'had briefly, dipping her head to finish her klah. Her head snaps up as X'hil speaks to her. The bronzer might get the flash of ice between stray locks of hair as she looks at him and a firming of her lips, but that's about all. She repeats, "Didn't mean..?" There's obvious confusion in her tone, but she just shrugs at him, answering shortly, "Don't worry about it." The once-holder girl appears uncomfortable with X'hil's timing as she's suddenly rising, stepping carefully to avoid legs and feet of those at the fire to thunk her now-empty mug on the table. She grabs a piece of cold steak for Shep and heads to her tent, muttering about needing to comb her hair.

D'had blinks between X'hil, Thea and Cenlia at the bronzer's hesitant semi-apology, if that is indeed what it is. "Food's good," D'had agrees trying to not look too confused by the conversation as he moves to collect some of the leftovers - a roll, a good piece of meat. Fruit, well that can come later - for now he's busy chewing an overly large bit of his sandwich.

X'hil raises an eyebrow at Cenlia, and then groans. "Er. Have you checked the cave?" he asks, with a concerned glance to the rim of said cave. Well, firelizards like to lay eggs on beaches, right? It's sand… X'hil looks /very/ confused at Thea's reaction, and scowls at the fire. Well, /that/ didn't work. It was fairly out of context and all, and /way/ too early for such out of context remarks, but still… He knocks back the last of his klah, and stands, moving over to the leftover table to grab a roll and some meat, making himself a sandwich as well. Mmm. Steak saaandwich. He chomps down on it, then frowns, and peers over at the mountainside. "Hmm." he mutters, lowering his sandwich and moving over towards the edge of the foothills.

Cenlia nods to Rogawani, absently eyeing the nearby bushes, "Am more worried about him bein' seen…" and she coughs and sips more klah, adding, "He ain't exactly a sneaky one. Not like Rogue here." As she says the midnight-blue flit's name, Rogue gives a loud chirp, and then devours his portion of meatroll. Cenlia grins at him, muttering, "Well, 'least ya ain't wailing like a babe anymore, every time ya get hungry." But she glances towards the cave with a groan, and nods to X'hil. The girl stuffs the rest of her meatroll in her mouth and heads over there, grumbling, "Bet he decided to set up in there. Shardin' flit…"

Thea returns to the fire with hairbrush in hand, which she intends to offer to Cenlia. The weyrwoman's hair is now neatly gathered into one long thick side-braid and tired with a hide strip. Noting the small struggle between Rogawani and his firelizard, she tsks softly, "Let him win your battles and he'll only get worse." But she offers him a smile meant to encourage him. She pauses beside the table, casually takes a piece of fruit and cooly asks X'hil, "So, do we scout the mountain, overfly and look for more caves, or what?" Seryth for her part serenely croons to the bronze Kinseth. At least her world is sunny and without a care.

D'had hmms, choking down the bite of food in his mouth. "Maybe someone should go with her..," he suggests catching Cenlia's comment as she moves off in search of the 'lizard. Thea's remark towards the messenger draws the bluerider to look towards him momentarily, only to give a slight shake of his head for tug-of-war between boy and flit.

Speaking of firelizards and food, there's a /very/ chubby little brown under the table with the food on it, snoozing quite happily. X'hil's ever hungry Meredith is, for once, not hungry. Miracle of miracles! Kinseth inches even closer to Seryth as she croons at him, crooning himself in response. /He/ isn't his awkward rider, nope. X'hil mutters something under his breath, then heads to his tent, emerging with a backpack in one hand, and a rope slung over one shoulder. He swings the backpack over his shoulder, making sure it sits /high/ on his back, before heading towards the mountainside.

With a sigh, Rogawani looks towards the young firelizard, and then up at the weyrwoman with a sheepish expression. "I try. He's my first, so I don't know exactly what to do with him." The little lizard's eyes whirl as he looks up at the boy, chewing at the edge of the piece of meat. "Oh give me that already." He snatches the meat while the lizard is distracted by people moving near the food table. "Now sit nice and wait, will you? You're embarassing me infront of everybody you busy-belly." Ro' begins to tear up pieces from the bigger chunk of meat, and the lizard sits, waiting, his tail drumming impatiently. Finally, with the meat in lizard-size pieces, the boy sets the plate down. "Here. Now be good." A moment later, one of the other riders calls out to the boy, calling him to help pack up a few things. Nodding, Ro' leaves the firelizard to his meal, getting to his feet. "I'll catch up as soon as I'm done." He offers to the others, and then follows the rider to his green.

Cenlia giggles as she sees Rogawani's flit doing tug of war with the messenger for a meatroll. The girl grins and tells him, "My Rogue's the same. Keeps stealing m' sammiches. When he hatched, he up and walked off with my breakfast." The girl peers down into cave with a hrmm. She grins at Thea's hairbrush, but turns to pick up her own little brown firelizard, Trouble. "Go find him," Cenlia tells her brown flit. When the flit ignores her, she swipes his meatroll and points into the cave, "Find Charmer." The flit growls. Cenlia glares. THe flit makes a grumpy little throaty noise and takes off, actually disappearing into the cave. Cenlia peers down into the cave and nearly gets a faceful of bronze firelizard as her own flit zoooms up, being chased by Trouble, and attempts to land on her, "Ack! Charmer! Gerroff!" She tumbles backwards and lands on her butt.

Thea shakes her head, a rueful smile twitches her lips, "No apology needed, Rogawani. We've all had to go through it with ours." She snickers at Cenlia's sudden sit-down. With all the naughty firelizards here this morning it's a good thing Ruin isn't here to organize mayhem. She gives her own head-shake at this. Thea starts towards the nearby mountain, "Gonna have a peek around and see if I can see anything from up there." She's got her gloves and jacket on, crossbow across her back, but no rope so she's likely not going rock-climbing.

The squeal from Cenlia brings a look from D'had, but seeing as it's only startlement by firelizard the man turns back to his breakfast with a nod as Rogawani excuses himself to assist in packing up. Its Thea's announcement that she's going to take a look yet that brings much of any reaction from the bluerider. Choking down that last bite of sandwich he's already reaching for his bag that's on the ground beside his lifemate. "Hold up!" Which apparently means he's going too.

X'hil is, on occasion, infinitely grateful that only one of his three firelizards - Meredith, the currently over-stuffed brown - really spends much time with him. The green Elizabeth is at least loyal, more or less, but unexpectedly independent. And the blue, well, the less said about Wraith, the better. X'hil is not really in a chatty mood any more, but he waits for any stragglers to catch up before continuing onwards. The more eyes the better, right?

Thea turns back at D'had's 'Hold up'. She's not getting to go off by herself, then. Swinging forward, she looks ahead and…oh! There's X'hil ahead of her. She blinks. Whups, she wasn't paying attention! She waits for the others, then moves to catch up, craning her neck to peer upwards at the mountaintop. Could be a long day…

A few long strides and D'had catches up with the rest of those going on to explore a bit further. Of course it helps that Thea at least has paused to allow him to do so. Pack is secured over a shoulder on the way. "So," he starts, a bit uncertain as to if this is the best time or place to ask, but he's going to anyway, "Some of these names ya were throwing around yesterday. They sound familiar, but me being a rather new transfer and all, feel like I might have been missing out on a few of the details…"

Xanadu Weyr Region - Up the Mountain Side

As the hills turn into mountains, the slopes become rougher, the trees become sparser, and sheer rock faces become more prevelant. Each mountain seems to grow in height, towering over the next, as snow can be seen topping them in the distances, while to the west, it seems as if there may be a small pass through the mountains.
As a sheer rock face makes up a natural wall to the south, it seems that this area may have been used - or may still be used - for pasturing summer herds, as the portions of the slope that bear the signs of growing gasp have rough fences linked here and there, uneven posts stuck into the ground with some sort of wire spread between them. Further encouraging this idea is the presence of a rough mud hut near one portion of the fence, with a cairn settled in its shadow.

X'hil climbs up the mountain side, grimacing as he reaches the top, securing a rope to one of the few trees and lowering it to make the journey slightly easier for the others. And then he's peering around at the area, frowning at the rough mud hut absently, then heading over to examine it closer…

Cenlia walks along with the riders, generally enjoying being outdoors. She admires the view, and eyes the nearby vegetation curiously. She doesn't say much, though she does glance over at Thea when D'had asks about the names. Cenlia looks pretty curious too.

Thea falls back beside D'had and fill him in as she climbs, her eyes roving the area for other signs people may have been there. "I really don't know much about it myself. Just before I came to Xanadu Weyr someone found a cave where some folks had been living holdless, and later some dead folks and some odd notes about The End coming." She pauses to wipe her brow and remover her jacket, continuing the climb, "Later someone identified the leader as a man named Kefai, but other strange things have happended too…the Lord Holder of Rubicon River disappeared, but his ship was found… " She grasps the rope X'hil has tossed down and pulls herself up, forestalling the rest of her limited explanations.

D'had nods here and there, affirming that he's following Thea's telling. He hangs back, letting the junior use the rope for some of the worst areas and continuing on only once she's past. "All sounds a little hokey to me.." the bluerider comments as their group comes across the quasi-settlement on the mountainside. "Well isn't this… quaint."

X'hil adds what little he knows to Thea's explanation, "There was a girl, searched, who impressed a gold, and later disappeared, with her dragon. The gold's first flight was over Ierne recently." The man grimaces at that, and glances back down the way they came, with a scowl, and stalks off, circling the hut curiously, then blinking. "Is there a pass over there?" he frowns, pointing to the west.

Cenlia continues to follow the riders, her eyebrows rising at hearing Thea's explanation, "The end of what?" She eyes the hut and cairn, peering at the grasses and then looking in the direction X'hil points. The girl doesn't make any comment, though she frowns a bit.

Thea catches her breath, nodding in agreement to D'had. "Sounds hokey to me, too." As X'hil explains, she gives the bronzer a blink of surprise as he grimaces, but she doesn't say anything about whose dragon flew the absent gold. "Girl's name was Kate, a follower of Kefai." She pauses to shrug at Cenlia, "I have no idea. Some folks say end of the world, but it's all a puzzle. Anyway, Kate snuck off with her queen during a fogged in day and folks think she may have gone back to him." She eyes the hut, then turns to view the panorama. "This can't possibly be an ordinary beasthold. We raised camelids in Cold Stone Hold. They like cold, rugged areas, but most herds prefer a more sheltered, green land." She swings an arm towards the plateau below. "Like that down there. Bet it's a look out."

D'had nods slowly as the rest of the tale unfolds. "That could be a problem," he comments, even if it is only to himself. Dark eyes turn towards the west as X'hil draws his attention that way. "Looks like it could be…" Another nod for Thea's remarks on the place being a beasthold. "I'll take your word for it. Ain't much for the beasts myself."

X'hil has adopted that odd shuffling limp since the climb, over-exerting himself and pulling a muscle in his tender wound, but he tries to ignore it, moving closer to peer down the pass. "Doesn't look very wide…" he notices, though he glances over the people gathered, then gauges the pass again. "/Should/ fit…" Gets a bit narrow in places though, probably. "Pass, or look out?" he asks, turning to Thea, since she was the one to mention the plateau below.

Cenlia makes a face at the explanation, saying, "South Boll ain't got nothin' compared to the stuff that happens 'round here. I heard rumors Xanadu lost tack of a goldrider - thought it was when weyrwoman Ysa took off. But ya /actually/ lost a goldrider?" She shakes her head and says, "What're you gonna do if this girl Kate doesn't wanna come back to the weyr?" And then a pause as she frowns, "How often do gold dragons lay clutches, anyways?" That comment about renegade dragonriders has her worrying some.

Thea answers X'hil as she continues looking about, "Maybe…both. This does offer a great view of the area. You can see both land and skies for miles. Not much a chance of being surprised here." Cenlia's mention of Ysa's vacation draws a bit of a smirk, which sobers as she answers, "They…snuck off. Kate always kept to herself, quiet-like." She adds sadly, "And Lusiath wouldn't communicate with any of the dragons. Though they tried to reach out to her, she wouldn't repond. So we don't know where she is and I dunno how we could force her to return even if we did know." Her face says what she thinks of any dragon having to live isolated from her own kind.

D'had refrains from further comment on the missing gold, though the look he shares with the others is somewhat puzzled by the idea that she doesn't communicate with anyone else. ".. So then, so we push on..? Or check out things around here a bit more first?" So many options, so little time.

X'hil makes his way to the pass in that odd shuffling gait, frowning absently at the cairn. He somehow doubts there's just a bird under there, and he really doesn't want to know more. "Pass?" he suggests, frowning at the rock face absently. "Odd markings… Warnings?" is his first instinct, taking a step backwards.

Cenlia follows along, peering about, but saying nothing. She eyes the odd marks, but shrugs, "Could be?" Her gaze falls on the cairn and she frowns, "Wonder who's buried under there."

With a sharply indrawn breath, Thea strides to the fence and removes something snagged there. She returns, after glancing inside the mud hut. "Nothing in there," she reports. "But look at this!" She waves a bit of greenish fabric. "Looks familiar, but I don't remember where I've seen it?" She folds it and place it in her jacket pocket. "I'll take this back for the Weyrleaders." She shudders at the grave when Cenlia mentions it, managing to smirk at her friend, "Didn't lug the shovel up here, didja?" Her gaze follows the narrow trail, "Curious what's up there…"

D'had frowns a bit as he follows the rest up towards the pass, looking down towards the cairn. "Doubt that one's a bird.." he remarks idly, recalling the previous day's exploration. "Warning or not, with the way things have been going almost hate to not check it out.."

X'hil scowls at the odd markings, his instinct saying danger, Cenlia saying that it /could/ be, Thea curious to check it out, and D'had reluctant /not/ to. He mulls it over a moment, then shrugs, "Pass it is." he says, leading the way.

Cenlia shakes her head, "Left my garden stuff in the tent," she says, and then glances towards the pass, and heads that way, following X'hil.

Xanadu Weyr Area - A Hidden Campsite

Pass is perhaps a rather generous term for this area of mountain — the path runs in a vaguely northeasterly direction and is faced with a towering cliff on the western side. To the east a thin border of rocky waste, which falls away into nothingness, edges the path. Down the westerly cliff face a small waterfall wends its way towards the ground far below and the rock is pocketed here and there with small caves.
Outside one of the caves there is evidence that there was a campfire here as a cook pot is settled into the ashes of a long dead fire. In front of another cave is evident that the area was occupied by more than one human, as there's a cesspit releasing its stink to the surroundings.

Thea follows X'hil through the narrow pass, and eyes the surrounding area. "What…stinks?!" She spots the pit, but she's not going any nearer to it. She's poked about in one too many smelly things of late. She notices the fire and pot and walks that way instead. "There's moldy stuff in here…so folks were here not all that long ago." Now she's looking worried. Their dragons are not close enough to help them. "You guys think this could be a renegade hideout?"

X'hil's first instinct, as always, is the food. And he squeezes out of the narrow pass to limp over to the cooking pot, soon recoiling in horror. He should have heeded Thea's warning! But, it's not /that/ bad… But the stench? Wait, he takes a sniff or two of the air and near chokes on it, grimacing. "Stench's not the /food/." he scowls.

Cenlia makes a face as she smells the cesspit, and follows close behind the riders, muttering, "Ugh, I hope not." She eyes the caves warily, "Think anybody's still around?" She's missing that shovel right now, she is. Charmer finally pokes his head out of her knapsack to peer at the cookpot, but alas, there be nothing edible in there. Cenlia pokes the flit, and he retreats glumly back into the knapsack.

Reluctant not to? Perhaps, but they've come this far, and what if that last clue they're looking for is just around the bend? Then again D'had is one who tends to live for the thrill. That's why X'hil is leading the group though. Right? The man does follow suit, wrinkling his nose against the stench. Stepping on the end of a stick near the firepit, he flips the other end up so that he doesn't have to bend down as far to pick it up. "Is that -all- you think of man?" he half questions, sending a look back towards X'hil in mild disbelief. "This seems to be the source though…" he comments, holding his breath against the smell best he can as he pokes the stick in hand into the cesspit to .. hit something?

X'hil thinks about more than just food… That's just what he thinks of /first/. "Eurgh, there's something /in there/?" he grimaces, looking around. "Alright… Someone…" Ulp. "Has to go… get… whatever that is." And hope that it's something /useful/. Anyone have any straws?

Cenlia hastily backs away from the bronzer. What is he suggesting? She eyes the cesspit suspiciously, then not so subtly tries to hide behind Thea. Yeah, oh hey, look a firepit. Cenlia busies herself with examining it - or pretending to. Apparently, she actually finds something, as she mutters, "What'd they been burnin'?"

While some of the group had already gone ahead, Rogawani was stuck back at the base camp helping one of the greenriders pack up their things. Thus, he's a little late to catch up with the others. At a jog, the boy appears just at the edge of view, carrying along a bag of supplies just incase something is needed. Huffing, puffing, he's getting a lot of use out of his legs lately.

Thea wanders back from doing a loop around the area in time to see a bluerider poking about in a… cesspool? And a brozer suggesting they /fish around/ in it? She silently backs awaaay. No siree, she's not volunteering. Uh, uh. As Rogawani trots up, she looks relieved. Look a sane person.

D'had rolls his eyes, "Ya'll are a bunch of sissies!" he snorts, though the look on his face as he ducks down is quite the opposite. Why!? is he doing this? … Well someone has to. Right? And so (not so) deep breath and the bluerider closes his eyes turning head away from the pool in search of fresher air as he reaches down to fish out a small metal box which is quickly dropped on the ground beside the cesspit. Almost as soon as the 'prize' is out of hand Donn is standing and halfway towards the stream that leads to the waterfall to wash off. Once again, Ew!

X'hil wouldn't suggest it if he didn't think there was something in there… After this, he may never eat again. /Ever/. It's not that the rotting food is so bad, it's that he'll now be unable to disassociate the running to check for food with the /smell/. Bleurgh. "A… small metal box." Okay… He scowls a little, and moves over to gingerly pick up the box, rinsing it - and then scrubbing vigourously at his hands - in the stream. Got the /worst/ of the smell off… "Let's examine this back at /our/ camp." he grimaces, eyeing this one. Doesn't look like anyone's been around in a while, and he can smell why.

Cenlia spots Rogawani and waves, saying, "Hey," in greeting. She straightens up from the firepit and joins Thea, away from the bronzer. The men can look in the cesspit; Cenlia will just be over here. When D'had actually sticks his hand in, Cenlia boggles and wrinkles her nose. Eugh. But then there's a metal box? The girl eyes the thing that has been pulled out of the cesspit, peering at it suspiciously, but not moving aaany closer. She makes a face as X'hil washes it off, but says nothing, following the others back to camp, but keeping her distance from the smelly box.

Sane? Well, certainly Rogawani isn't about to go fishing around inside a cesspit. "I… came at a bad time didn't I?" He eyes both the blue and bronze rider, as if they had just grown two heads. Looking first to Thea, and then to Cenlia, the boy's face pales a little. "Tell me I'm not seeing what I'm seeing. Two riders fishing strange things out of cesspits?" Placing a hand over his mouth, the boy just shakes his head a little, stepping closer to the girls. "I'm glad I'm with you two." He says, clearing his throat as he stays at a distance from the riders and their newly aquired smell.

Everyone heads back to the Foothills Campsite…


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.

X'hil /washed off/. And the box! The man snorts, and tosses it onto the table with the leftover food. "I'm going to see if I've got a change of clothes. Or /something/." he scowls, though only his bare hand touched the thing. He disappears into a tent, grimacing. He'll be back, right? It could be worse — he could have tossed it in with the leftover /booze/.

Cenlia makes a face as X'hil tosses the cesspit-box on the table with the leftover /food/. Uggghh. She heads over towards the campfire and plops down, not interested in examining anything fished out of a cesspit.

Thea gleeps at the box being tossed onto the food table, washed or not. She may never eat anything off of it again. She's still wearing her gloves, so when X'hil disappears into his tent, she snatches it off of the table with a nose-wrinkle of disgust, fighting the urge to bat it far-far away. Somehow, in the way she grabs the box, it springs open, spilling it's contents onto the ground, "Uh, X'hil, have I got something you'll want to see!" It's not at all what a fellow might wish for, when a gal says something like that.

Watching the box hit the food table, Rogawani's face scrunches a little as the pink of his tongue sneaks out. As much as he's been trained to act like an adult, there's still a little childishness that sneaks through now and again. "You know, I think I won't be hungry for a while." He comments, which comes as a big shock, especially the way he usually eats. He reaches a hand to try and move the box away from the food, but Thea gets there first. So, shoving his hands in his pockets, Ro's eyes widen a little to see what has fallen out of the box. "That - looks like trouble."

D'had washed off as well. Apparently he isn't as worried about changing clothes as a certain bronzerider. "Well I didn't see anyone -else- jumping to fish it out of there." Though maybe he should hold his words until the box has proved to be something useful. Of course it's about that time, as he saunters towards the table where X'hil left the box, that Thea picks it up and the contents spills to the ground.

X'hil can't help it, he's curious to a fault, and he leans out to /peeer/ at Thea's question, tumbling out of the tent when he spies the pile of knots. "Wow. A guy could get up to serious stuff with that collection!" he whistles, righting himself and looking up at Thea. "We've got to take that back to the Weyr. That's… That's big stuff. Huge." He remembers recently wearing a knot he didn't earn - unless being a drunken lout and getting the Weyrwoman drunk(er) counts.

Cenlia wrinkles her nose at Thea who is now picking up the box - but at least Thea has gloves! She blinks, though, when the box's contents spill out, the gardener girl's eyebrows rising as she comments, "What'dya suppose they need all those for?"

Thea just eyes all of the badges and knots on the ground, stooping to pick through them, "Here's one for Hanista Hold…Eastern Weyr…Kahrain…Xanadu…!" She's aghast. "This is not good. Not good at all." She eyes the landscape with a shudder. "Renegades… could be watching us right now. Sneaking…up on us." She finishes that last bit in a rush of words, clearly creeped out by this find.

Letting out a low whistle, Rogawani shows his own opinion of just what the collection of knots might mean. "My only question is - how did this end up in there?" His eyes look towards Thea, as the bronze rider is still tumbling out of his tent. "I mean, this is big right? Why would they just leave it behind in the poop-shoot?" So, he's a little less than graceful about referring to the cesspit. The goldrider's mention about someone spying on them starts the boy looking around, as if trying to spot anyone among the trees.

"Who's going to -look- in the 'poop-shoot'" D'had points out in reply to Ro's question. Well other than him. "Seems like a good hiding place to me…" This is turning out to be another point were maybe he should have just kept his mouth shut for a bit longer. Ducking down the bluerider reaches for one of the knots on the ground, tapping it on his knee as he thinks for a moment, "If they have these… they might already be in…"

Cenlia eyes the bronzer who took a tumble out of the tent, mumbling an absent, "Y'alright?" But she turns and peers around at Thea's words with a muttered, "Shards…" The girl is frowning now, and eyes the knots on the ground warily, "How would anybody know?" And then her eyes widen a bit as she seems to realize something, "There any rider knots in there? People in the infirmary was sayin' how some riders weren't keepin' to their own weyrs, even with a travel ban."

X'hil looks quite like he wants to be /anywhere/ but here. "Quick, pack everything up, and lets get /out/ of here." he mutters, sticking his head into the greenrider and candidate's tent, then pulling it right back out again, looking completely freaked out. Man, those two've been close, but what are they /up/ to in there? He … doesn't let anyone else near the tent just yet, muttering, "I'm fine." at Cenlia. "/Pack/. /Quickly/.

Thea shrugs, "Fell in by accident, tossed in by Kefai's insane followers…?" She is clueless about how the box got in there, but certain about one thing. "We shouldn't be here. If this is connected to Kate's disappearance, they might come back." She pauses to think, "The Weyrleaders could set up someone to lie in wait. Catch them." As X'hil starts speaking, she's scuttling to strike her tent.

"Right, but why leave it behind in the first place? It's small enough it wouldn't even weigh down a runner." Rogawani tries to object to D'had's explination, but soon enough the order to pack up comes and any other questions get shoved aside. The boy nods quickly, and gets to work, tossing his own bag aside as he rushes towards one of the nearest tents. Words and thoughts are forgotten as the imperitive to get them all out of here and fast takes hold of his hands, tieing the tent securely into a pack.

D'had blinks, tossing the knot back into the box as he pushes back to standing upright. Moving towards the tents he's soon shuffling things into bags in much less organized fashion than they were originally packed. "Something's up.." he says quietly towards X'hil as he passes the bronzerider in packing. It's a mix of question and comment.

Cenlia gets up and grabs her stuff - she didn't bring much, and just has the two bags. She helps get stuff other stowed around the camp, following X'hil's orders without so much as a snerk. Hunh. Cenlia packs. Quickly. When she's done helping, she waits near Kinseth, waiting for X'hil's direction.

X'hil ducks into the greenrider/candidate tent, though he clearly doesn't /want/ to. There's a faint scuffling noise as he moves around in there, pulling a dazed and obviously sleepy greenrider out by his collar. The sleepy man is shaking his head. "I /swear/, she was there when I went to sleep! The… Dragons were keeping watch!" he cries, and X'hil scowls, letting go of the man. "Pack up your tent." he orders, flatly, before going over to confer with Kinseth, a scowl on his face. There's a long moment of silence between the man and the bronze then, ending in a grimace and a grumble. "Of /course/ you let the candidate go. She was a candidate. Bah!" he stomps over and dismantles his own tent as quickly as he can, loading up Kinseth's cargo net. "Quickly, up on Kinseth." he mutters at Cenlia, and Rogawani if he's close enough.

Thea gets her things, her tent and some of the supplies packed into the cargo net, then busies herself clipping it to Seryth's harness. The scuffle causes some concern, the missing Candidate even more. "Shards, X'hil! We can't just leave without looking for her!" She scrambles up the gold's side, buckling herself in. "Seryth and I can overfly the area. See if we can spot her."

Moving at his quickest, which he's had to do quite a bit lately, Rogawani helps to load up a tent and a net onto the green he had been helping earlier. His head perks though, hearing X'hil's command about getting up onto the bronze dragon. "Coming!" He calls, tossing up once more bag to the green rider before racing off towards the larger dragon. Even if he's good at packing and racing around, dragons are certainly where Ro' stumbles. He nearly falters as he tries to get up onto the bronze's back, catching himself at the last moment before flinging himself up across the dragon's neck. "I don't think I'll ever get used to these." He says to himself, keeping his voice low.

D'had tosses the last few things into Siebith's cargo net and proceeds to secure net to straps, sending a look over his shoulder for the scuffle between bronze and green riders. Net secure however he's swinging into place on Siebith's neckridges. "I can run a quick sweep," he offers to Thea's concern with leaving the candidate behind.

Cenlia doesn't need to be told twice - the girl gets up on the dragon's back when X'hil tells her to, though she gives Rogawani an odd look, muttering an, "Alright there?" Cenlia may not be that used to dragons, but she knows how to climb. She's frowning as she looks around from the higher vantage point, settling in behind Rogewani. But she can't spot the missing candidate.

X'hil /scowls/, and climbs up Kinseth's side. "You're welcome to /look/ for her. But I'd wager those aren't the /only/ forged, or stolen, knots." Candidates knots are much easier to fake than those others. They may not have the /ranking/ knots any more, but no-one pays much attention to candidates. They're like drudges, practically. Drudges with that magic 'might impress' marker. "You, greenrider, report to Thea for further orders!" He snaps, giving Thea one more assistant to search, if she so wishes. "Toss me the box, /I'll/ take it back." he mutters, leaning over to catch it. He's actually a good catch. Pun completely not intended.

He's actually a good catch/er/. Seeing he has recently caught two golds in a row. Someone tosses the bronzer the box. While the greenrider looks towards Thea, who gestures towards D'had. "Thanks D'had." Worry in her voice for the Candidate shows still, because no one is -certain- she was really a Candidate or a spy.

It isn't exactly often that a messenger has to go climbing, "Yeah, just not used to this." Rogawani offers a tentative smile over his hsoulder towards Cenlia as he begins to fumble with the riding straps. After a good minute or so, he manages to get them into place just in time for X'hil to appear infront of him. Giving one last look around, the boy has a big of a pang of regret. It was an adventure to get to go out this far from his normal route, but at the same time it also lead to a discovery that could mean more trouble in the future.


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.

Kinseth glides in to a landing, and X'hil is already half out of the straps by the time they reach the ground, sliding quickly down the bronze's neck, and digging into a pocket, closing his hands around the box. It's safe and out of sight there. Never know who might be watching, even here. He turns back to help Cenlia and Rogawani down, frowning and glancing around, looking more than a little paranoid. It's not paranoia if they really /are/ out to get you!

Cenlia hops down, making sure to thank 'Sir Kinseth' for the lift back. She shoulders her packs and steps out of the way so Rogawani can get down. The girl is also peering about. Nope, not paranoid at all?

Nowhere near as smooth with dragons and riding straps as the bronzerider, even lingering after Cenlia is already down, Rogawani finally is able to free himself with one good tug at the straps. He starts down the bronze's side, giving the neck a small pat. "Thanks for the ride, big guy." Ro' Lands on the ground with a little puff of dust from his boots. Like the others, he's not exactly at ease to be home, his hands going into his pockets as he glances around, watching the other dragons land.

Siebith might not be as quick to land as he might normally be, being weighed down by the cargo net carrying supplies as his is, but he's on the ground fast enough all the same. D'had, much like X'hil, is on the ground almost before the blue has fully touched down, heading over to make sure the bronzer doesn't need a hand with his passengers. Perhaps so they can be on their way all the more quickly.

X'hil mutters under his breath as he undoes the cargo net from Kinseth's straps, then frowns. She /might/ be a legitimate candidate? He groans, and looks up at Kinseth. He just got /back/, and the infirmary is looking mighty tempting. The dragon alerts any sweep dragons, or otherwise assigned dragons, that might be in the area, « Candidate missing in the wilderness. Search teams requested, ASAP. »

Cenlia is still looking around, but her gaze stops at the infirmary, and she purses her lips. Her brother is still in there, and when he finds out where she's been… the girl runs a hand through her hair and quickly offers to help whichever rider needs his dragon unloaded. When X'hil groans, she glances at him questoningly.

This time, Rogawani isn't quite so shaken by this third ride on a dragon, so he's quick to turn and begin helping the riders unpack things from their dragons. He even nearly topples over when a net is haphazardly dropped on him, but somehow manages to keep it under control and guide it down onto the ground. Even his little bronze firelizard is there chittering encouragingly, perhaps picking up on his owner's well hidden distress.

"I think we can take care of the supplies," D'had notes for X'hil as he catches the bronzer's .. discomfort. We of course being him and their two passengers - Cenlia and Rogawani. "If you've got other things to take care of."

X'hil mutters. "Kinseth is nagging me to go /look/ for that candidate." he scowls. But he's having doubts now… "I… I'll finish up here." Kinseth's nearly unloaded, after all. Though unpacking the unattached cargo net is another matter. "And then I've got something to … take care of." He grimaces at the infirmary. He's been /far/ too active these past two days. /Far/.

Cenlia helps with the rest of the unloading, but can't help the slightly amused grin tugging at the corner of her mouth when she sees the bronzer grimacing at the infirmary. However, she does say, "After this, am opening that bottle." Is that a promise? The girl adjusts her bags, then tells Rogawani, "If ya see B'miel, let him know I say thanks, huh?" And then she grins, all this paranoia starting to get to her a little, saying, "Yer welcome to join me for some glasses later, too." And she glances around, one last time. Yup, paranoid.

Looking over a set of sacks in his arms, Rogawani first looks at X'hil with concern, but then nods to D'had. "I can stay and help unpack. I wasn't scheduled for a route today anyways." He mutters, shifting the load a little in his arms, still not able to quite carry as much as an adult might be able to. He sets the sacks down near his bronze, giving the little lizard a scratch under the chin. "Being nice now are we?" He says to the bronze in a soft voice, dusting his hands off as he shoots the smallest of smiles at Cenlia, "I'll make sure to tell him." Nodding, the boy manages a little chuckle at the offer. "If there's time after I see to my runner. I could use a good drink." Which is surprising, figuring the boy hadn't touched a drop of the booze Cenlia brought on the trip.

D'had nods once again, "If I don't hear anything about her before tomorrow I'll keep an eye out on sweeps." he assures, though how its said the rest of their group could likely guess he means not only the missing candidate, but anything else noteworthy as well. That of course is usually a given, but with things such as they are - even more so. Straps are loosened to drop the cargo net Siebith was carrying down to the ground so it can be more easily unpacked.

Having done her part to help with the unpacking, the gardener girl glances between the caverns, the garden, and the infirmary. She bites her lip, frowning, but then the girl sighs and mutters, "I need a drink." And waving a farewell to the others, she heads towards the caverns.

X'hil heads for the caverns too, but he doesn't stop for a drink, continuing down to the offices. He remains in there for some time before limping back out and heading to the infirmary, to get his wound seen to. Seems he's torn his stitches. /Again/. He's out like a light the second he gets on the cot, and even Kinseth is relaxing for a snooze in the clearing at last.

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