Xanadu is Coming

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 border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places.

The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the rock edifice where, high above on Xanadu's Star Stones, the ever-present watchdragon sits on the lonely peak. Directly south is the hatching arena, the large round complex taking up a large portion of the perimeter, a line of trees visible beyond it. 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 Wandering Wherry Tavern. Tucked neatly under the arch, to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Petals and Pots Garden Shop'. Southwest lies cliffs where windows for the administrative offices have been cut. Underneath them are the entrances to the crafters complex while north and west along the cliff's base, a broad path leads to the feeding grounds. Due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr - the meadow, the forest beyond. At the far edge of the clearing, beside the trail leading to the forest sits a clocktower.

The storm of emotions in Xanadu still rages, but in Cold Stone Hold, the blizzard has ended. The weather report comes with draconic swiftness, and the message goes out. To Galaxy, the first response riders of the Weyr. To those others who have volunteered - insisted - on being in the first wave. Dragons and riders converge on the clearing, checking harnesses, double-checking wing assignments. There are two, in the first response. One is led by N'varre as Galaxy's wingleader; the other by Ka'el as Weyrleader. Mur'dah's surely preparing Kalsuoth now that the restrictions have been lifted, Kiena forgiven from her Weyrsecond duties for this initial sweep so that she may keep a close eye on him. Marel… may be mounting up as well, despite her condition. Not that anyone here is in the best of condition. Have they even slept? It's afternoon, a full day passed since Seryth's accident. In Cold Stone, it's mid-morning. If Thea survived the night, she'll find the next hours easier ones, the cold less frigid as Rukbat's light warms even the frozen slopes of the Reaches. If she survived. If she survived the accident, the blizzard… but they don't know where Seryth crashed; perhaps there was a cothold nearby, a herd of camelids to cluster around their Weyrwoman and shelter her for the night. If she survived, but every day reduces the odds. Every night reduces them further. The Galaxy riders know this, and they're grim as they make their preparations for departure.

Soriana stands in the clearing to watch them. She's in her riding leathers, though she's not assigned to a wing. Luraoth's in her harness. There's… been too much going on to take the time to relax. Dragons getting into accidents, reckless or distraught. The queens have kept them from between, but there's still hazards in careless flight, in drunken riders and stumbling dragons. There's still been outlying dwellings to visit, posted riders to reassure. They've been busy. Skyler's been in the nursery, cared for by experienced hands. At least he doesn't have separation anxiety yet? Soriana might, but… she's dealing with it. She's standing here, watching the wings assemble.

Sleep. Who has time for such a luxury? Not the Weyrleader. Not when a crisis at hand. The previous day was a blur of activity,all of which Ka'el would've been happier without. The dragon's laments. The confusion felt by all. The expressions on the faces of the Xanadu riders when wing by wing they met. It was as if someone had turns the Weyr upside down, and everyone was scrambling to find their footing again. And they still are, some of them. The night had been long. Accidents plenty and woes still strong. The amount of hours that Ka'el did find sleep were few and restless. How could he, any of them, sleep when Thea was…might still be…out there, hurt and alone? This new day brings with it dwindled hope, but he can't bring himself to throw in the towel yet. There's still a chance. A tiny, slither of one, but still a chance that she's waiting for them to rescue her. Word has come from Cold Stone, and dragons have assembled. Ka'el is here, moving amongst the congregation of humans and dragons, stopping to check a strap or relay a word. Pausing by N'varre to go over the plan once more, assuring that everyone knows what's expected of them and their place in the formation. Soon. Soon they will fly and blink out of existence to reappear far, far away to seek their fallen Weyrwoman. Soon. Ka'el exhales a long and slow breath as he moves, pressing away from the crowd and towards Soriana, whose position he only is aware of thanks to Kanekith's keen eyes and Luraoth's large presence. He approaches her with a practicedly expressionless face, still masked due to his prolonged time with the riders. Grief. Worry. Despair. Hope. He can't show them any of it. "You'll be flying with us?" he asks upon reaching her.

Luraoth is hard to miss. Golds are like that. Hard to… actually, Seryth's proving that one wrong. Golds are very easy to miss… when they're gone. Soriana is definitely missing that queen. She's hoping it's just the dragon she's missing, even if she's worrying that… Thea may be as gone as Seryth is. Still. Maybe the Senior will be alive to miss her dragon. Or… well… the former Senior. Even if she's alive, she can't be a Weyrwoman without a dragon, can she? She's… forcibly retired, like that fellow in Meteor who's gone senile and can't be trusted with even the simplest of tasks anymore. If they find her. If there's a Thea left to find, and she hasn't blinked out forever in the cold of Between or Reachian slopes. Soriana's leathers are warmer than is comfortable for a Xanadu summer. They're barely enough to keep from freezing in a Reachian winter. She's got a faint frown on her face as she looks at the assembly, at the riders. Even with people watching, she's still got worry tugging at her. Lack of sleep. Skyler was fussing, catching the grim mood of the Weyr. All of it. Tired as they are, none of them should be betweening… but this is the best they've got. They'll sleep once they've searched. Until then, there's klah. Soriana looks to Ka'el as he he approaches. "I probably shouldn't," she answers him, gaze flitting out to the assembly. "The dragons will worry." One queen - one dragon - lost to the rocks is already too many. Soriana frowns.

Ka'el moves to stand next to her, his eyes on the congregation of riders and dragons. It feels and looks like they are going off to war. To fight a battle against a foe that needs to be taken down. But who is there enemy in this? The blizzard that has already passed? Death? And how can they battle an entity that will visit them all at some poitn in their lives? Death has no equal. It can't be conquered. If death has found thea, there isn't a single thing any one of them could do to bring her back. Nothing that can be done to lessen the anguish that's surely to come with that reality. And all of those faces out there, the riders who were willing to fight this war for their Senior, will suffer a type of loss that few have had to suffer before. Ka'el exhales slowly, the fingers of his gloved hands flexing slowly to form a loosefist before they gradually relax. "Luraoth will be helpful. She'll keep the dragons focused. She'll help them to keep going even if it might feel like…no one's getting anywhere." He knows this may happen. Thea won't be easy to find, no matter what the outcome. Snow, snow, and more snow as far as the eye can see could discourage anyone. "…There are a lot of riders…" he says, scanning them all, left to right. "If you don't feel up to it…if Luraoth feels like it's too much for only her… tell me. Tell me now or tell me then while we're there. I don't want you to try to Between if she's tired or overwhelmed or…anything else."

Soriana frowns, her gaze on the riders. They're mounting up, ready to… hah, of course they're not ready. Who could be ready to face this? But they're going to do it anyhow, because the alternative is going and hiding with their heads in the sand. Not that some riders haven't chosen to take that option. Drunk into somnolence, curled up under the blankets and refusing to emerge… but let them. They'll recover from the shock, alone or with the aid of mindhealers and others. For now, they're not hurting anyone - including themselves - by hiding. These riders, though? They aren't hiding. They're going to go stare at the winter snows in the hopes of seeing a face. Thea's face, though more likely… a cliff face. There's a slight tug of Soriana's lips for Ka'el's suggestion about Luraoth, but she's silent for a moment to consider it before giving it a slight nod. "I'll go to Cold Stone, at least." Easily convinced, but then, she wanted to go. She wants to do something more than pat backs and tell people what they don't want to hear. "We can… Luraoth can watch the wings from there." She could watch them from here. She's still only three heartbeats away through the dark of Between. "I can talk to…" What was his name again? "…Tharen?"

It's good that she'll go. Ka'el wants her there, even if by 'there' they won't be anywhere near one another. Not really. They'll be in the sky, eyes on the ground, searching. Seeking their Weyrwoman. Hoping for that rescue that some have already given up on. But still, she'll be there and that provides him with some comfort. Thea's…no…Seryth's loss has made him want to keep those close to him near. Soriana. Skyler. But Seryth's loss has made it necessary for separation to be had. Separation from their child. Separation from each other. His duty is to the riders of the Weyr. Hers, the residents. They'll comfort them and reassure them and guide them because that's their expectation and duty. Comforting one another will have to wait. Even now, as they stand on the brink of departure, their minds are with their people. One their task. "Tharen," he confirms with a slow nod. "Her brother…Shards.." he furrows his brows, head shaking. "I hadn't thought of him. The only family of hers that crossed my mind is the family she has here." Minus D'had who .. really doesn't count much anymore, does he? But still, how has this affected him? Has it, at all? "Someone will know something over there. He's a good one to start with. Maybe she'd already visited with him and he'll have an idea of where she was headed." Another exhale. Most riders are up. He looks to N'varre, easily spotted on the back of his bronze. "In all the training that we get..for everything, nothing really prepares you for something like this.." He says, voice uncharacteristically grim.

The residents, the riders, the dragons. They're all part of a Weyr. Impossible… well. Not impossible to disentangle. Dragon and rider aren't impossible to disentangle either. It's just… hard, and tragic when it happens. There are very few fates worse than death. While there's life… there may or may not be hope, depending on just what exactly one wants to hope for, but there's at least still life, and that's something. Just like Soriana will go up to High Reaches, and that will be something. Luraoth can perch on a crag and look over the valley where Thea was born and raised. The dragons of Xanadu Weyr can look over all the crags and valleys of the Reaches, according to those maps hastily studied and the patterns they've all trained. Luraoth will be with them in her mind. Her mind on the dragon, their minds on the people. Of Weyr, and… Hold, because Thea didn't spring fully formed a Senior Weyrwoman. She has been for as long as either of these two have known her, but she was a child once. A little girl in fields with winter snows and spring flowers. One with parents, a brother named Tharen… Soriana nods. "If we can get her visual…" But all Seryth shared was the blinding white of snow; her position could be anywhere in those crags and crevices. The coordinates they have now are ones confirmed with High Reaches. They'll get to the hold, but finding the site of Seryth's crash - finding Thea - that's another matter. "I'll talk to Tharen. See what he knows." Does he even know what's happened? Did Thea ever arrive? Did she leave with a cheerful laugh and a promise to come back later? Soriana will find that out soon enough. She looks over those gathered, nods. "It'll be easier when they're doing something." For the riders. For Luraoth, when she doesn't have to hold them back from action. When she can encourage instead of deny. It won't be easy. None of this is easy. Easy… doesn't even appear on the horizon. But easier. It'll get easier, yes? Or at least… she hopes it won't get harder. She hopes. But she'll keep on trying even if it does. Another moment of studying the riders, and then she looks to Ka'el. "Let's go."

Prepared or not, they're … in charge. How did that happen? When did they become the ones who take the reins of control? They were just … kids. Two teens tumbling through life on a Weyr they both called home. A Weyr kept together by Thea, who has always been there. Age fourteen. Age sixteen. Eighteen. Twenty. A woman who at a point he saw through starry eyes as flawless. A woman who eventually became his mentor and partner. He's gone to her for guidance on more than one occasion, and each time she gave it whether it was something he wanted to hear or something he needed to hear. She was there. And now …. she isn't. She isn't here. She isn't anywhere. Lost, is what she is. Dead…possibly. But to him, she's merely lost. Lost within a blanket of snow in a place far away. But Thea, they're coming. These riders and dragons and volunteers. They're coming for you to search and find and bring home. Tharen will help. Cold Stone will help. Everyone will help because there are so many people who consider their Weyrwoman as more than just a Weyrwoman. They have to find her. Ka'el's chest slowly expands with a gradual inhale of his breath, exhaling at Soriana's final words. Everyone is ready. He can see Galaxy's Wingleader checking in with the last of his wing. He can see the goggled, tired faces of the riders looking to their leaders, to him, at the ready. Xanadu is ready. Xanadu is tired and worried and fearful…but ready. Ka'el nods once, lowering goggles over his eyes. "Let's go…" he agrees, and Kanekith bugles, loud and deep. Xanadu has rallied. Xanadu is coming.

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