A Visit to the Stables

Xanadu Weyr - Stables


The Stables of Xanadu Weyr are composed of one long building, lined with box and standing stalls that are kept thoroughly clean by the resident grooms and stablehands. Runners nicker and neigh at everyone who enters, save for the obstinate ones that just flicker their ears in indignant curiousity that they dare not make visible. The foremost stalls near the door to the Barn Yard are the grand box stalls which are home to the prized runners of Xanadu, as well as the most pregnant, those which are so far along that they require constant observation by the Herders, so as to ensure easy foaling.

However, the primary design of stall which lines the broad pathway that is covered in saw dust which is the main avenue of the Stables, is that of the Standing Stall. Many runners are in the standing stalls, with ropes strung across the front so as to keep the runners from leaving their designated containers. A few hay bales sit here and there along the avenue, some of which act as seats for the stablehands and grooms on their breaks, others as snacks for those runners who can reach out their necks far enough. Buckets and baskets of grooming supplies, brushes and combs, and the like also sit here and there, occassionally knocked over by a wayward hoof or inquiring muzzle.

Outside, the sun is just beginning to set, shooting highlighted rays of light against the walls of the stables. Inside, a few of the electric lights have already been lit, giving the area a strange humming sound. Younger stablehands move between the stalls, watched over by their older counterparts and the stablemaster who seems buried in paperwork lit by a lamp. Rogawani is luckily not among them, avoiding being recruited into their work for the evening with the excuse of working with his own runner. So, the boy leads his gray gelding out into the paddock outside, carrying along with him a bucket with a long brush dangling inside it. "Beautiful sunset, huh?" A chirp of his green firelizard echos this much as she peeks up from around the boy's neck, and then takes a short flight to land on one of the fence posts.

Thea walks the meadow again, but this time she is not with Seryth. Oddly enough, her footsteps take her towards the edge of the meadow, where she hesitates at the foot of the path that leads to the stables. She's talking to herself, a low mutter. If any words are audible, the tone of them is rebellious. "Shardin' don't want.." She looks about to turn tail and run, but at that moment there is the sound of a gate opening and there is Rogawani and a chirping firelizard. Great. Her feet head on up the path, her face resolute as she stops beside the fence, "Hello Rogawani."

The firelizard is the first to respond, lifting her tiny green head and giving a chirp of greeting as she wiggles her small body, seemingly excited to see the gold rider. It's this excitement that translates over to Rogawani as he strokes his runner's neck, looking off towards the setting sun. Blinking, the boy turns and pulls a hand up to shade his eyes, face managing a small smile as he spots Thea near the fence. "Hello there, Thea. Didn't think I'd see you out here again. Figured you'd swear off runners for good after last time." Giving a small pull on the gelding's reigns, he walks towards the shade offered by a few trees lining the paddock. "Can't imagine you'd be out here just to see me either. I'm cute but not -that- cute." He chuckles, teasing a bit.

Thea's return smile is a bit forced at the boy's, as she flicks a glance at the runner then back to Rogawani. She can't help but notice said wriggling green firelizard - or is it purposely a change of subject? "She's a happy little thing, isn't she? What did you name her?" One finger reaches to scritch the lizard's chin if she will let her. Another uneasy glance towards the runner and a sigh. "I… did- have." Dry voiced, she answers, "Seryth thought I needed to… ah…" She eyes his runner for a third time and there is no reach to pat the poor thing, "visit them." She clears her throat looking mighty sheepish.

Drawing closer to the fence, Rogawani draws his runner with him. The gray gelding seems perfectly content, looking on at Thea with a blank expression on his face. Once his eyes adjust to the shadows, a chuckle rumbles up from the boy as he nods. "That she is. I've named her Kialio. It's old tongue, I think. From a story that my mother used to tell me when I was little." Oddly enough, he says 'mother' this time, instead of 'Ma' and 'Da' which he uses to refer to his foster parents. Reaching out a hand, he lightly strokes it over the green lizard's back before turning to look at the apprehensive look she is giving the runner. "No need to worry, he's quite calm. Rider, this is Thea. Thea, this is Rider." The gray runner's nose moves forward a little as his big eyes blink, giving one sniff at the woman.

Thea keeps her attention on Kialio for the moment, "Kialio." Trying to repeat it as she heard it, her tongue not quite getting it right. A glance at the boy now, "It's prettier when you say it. What does it mean?" Her half-smile fades when Rider steps forward and sniffs, and although she stands her ground, there is no move to pat the animal. "Calm, hmm. Yes I see. They do that though, don't they? Calm one minute…" Crazy-run the next. She swallows adding, "Rider…hi there," her eyes flicker towards the path longingly for a moment. "How old it?" Because it looks ancient and she doesn't want to say?

"Kialio." Rogawani repeats, letting the vowels roll off his tongue easily. The green lizard, seeming to recognise her name, chirps once, and then perches herself on one of the fence posts, watching the two. "Hrm. I forget exactly. Something about rainfall and dreams." Tilting his head a little to look at Thea, the boy lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug. "The story was about a little girl who fell asleep to the rain, and had these dreams of far off places. I don't remember most of it." Rubbing at the back of his head, Ro' shows a brief sign of regret for that much, but then looks at his runner instead, pulling up a smile. "Nah, it all depends on the runner. Like dragons, they're all different with their own personalities. I think the one you were on before just got spooked by you being upset. You were gripping her pretty hard at the time." He says this lightly, not as criticism. "Oh him? Not sure really. Da' got him from some rider who left him beind when he impressed. Not too old though, otherwise I couldn't take him on the long trips." Rider simply keeps his head near Thea, waiting almost expectantly to be petted.

"Hmm, the story sounds…" Thea voice trails off as her attention returns to Kialio for a moment, "…haunting in a happy-sad sort of way. Beautiful, though. If that makes any sense." She's focusing on this topic, any topic but runners, apparently. "Why don't you send a request to Landing's archives with the word Kialio and see what they come up with? They might find the story if it is old enough?" Rogawani's words bring a blink of surprise. "I… was? Huh." She mulls this over for a moment finally admitting, with a guilty look on her face, "I guess trying to leap on it like mounting a dragon didn't help either." Her hand reaches out to offer the runner another sniff, then a soft noserub as she keeps her eyes on the creature and her cheeks flush a soft bit of pink. "I'm sorry, Ro. I should have followed the directions you gave me."

"Exactly. That's why I remember it." Rogawani nods, his face still managing to maintain a soft smile, although it does falter for a moment or two. "Well, I guess I always figured better not to know. I remember it so fondly, I guess I don't want to find out it was some corny children's story and ruin the memory, you know?" Stroking against his runner's neck, and keeping him quite still, Ro' just gives a shake of his head. "It's fine, Thea. Not everyone is comfortable with runners. It takes time." He blows childishly at the gelding's ear, causing it to flick once. "But to answer that question… about why anyone would want to ride one? Well, what does it feel like when you're up on your dragon, flying free?" He glances at her, almost searchingly. "For those of us who don't have lifemates, running fast down a road on one of these guys… well it's as close as we're going to get to that freedom."

Thea headtilts at this considering, then nods gently. "You know, Rogawani I think you're deeper than a lot of the weyr younguns your age that run around here." Then as if that observation make him uncomfortable, she returns her attention to Rider and strokes his long nose. Then she's fighting a grin as the runner flicks its ears, "What does it feel like?" She muses for a long few moments, green eyes unfocused on the trees across the meadow and as she speaks, her eyes are still on them as she starts, "It's rather amazing…" Her voice trails off as he speaks once again. She flickers a look at him then traces one of those fingers absently down the runner's nose. "It's that good, eh?" She can't help but eye the runner with some doubt and a grunt of pity follows, "Ride I had yesterday was a far cry from a dragonride. I think you're settling for far less than…" A hand flips towards the sky before she gives the boy a searching look, "Have you, ah… ever been before a clutch before, Ro?"

"Me?" Rogawani lifts one eyebrow, giving a small smirk. "Well, you get lots of time to think when you're off riding. Got nothing much else to do." As if this were explination enough, the boy just watches as she grows more comfortable with the runner. Rider, for all the attention, simply gives a small snort of sound, showing his appreciation. "Well, I can't say it's the same as riding a dragon. Few times you've all had me up on one have been wonders in their own right but… it's got it's own sort of appeal. You go fast, and no one can tell you where to go. Just you, your runner, and a big open world." Patting the gray gelding once, the boy's smile grows ever wider, seeming quite proud of the position he'd earned for himself at the weyr. Then, when talk of standing before a clutch comes up, it falls a little. "Ahh. Not me." Trying to brush it off, he rolls one shoulder. "My half-brother's the rider blooded one. I'm just crafter born. Re're's brown took Xaliyan while I was standing right there so, that's answer enough for me."

Thea half-laughs, "Sometimes no one can tell the runners where to go either!" She pats the runner's neck thoughtfully, "Tell me Rogawani, what you do to stop a runaway when it happens? How do you get them to stop or turn when they get crazed like that?" She hmms, thoughtfully at his answer, "Never Searched." Then she shrugs leaving the topic for now. Her hand scritches Runner's neck, "Can he run fast and run long?" A bit of a tease in her voice, "Beat any of the racers in there?" A thumb over her shoulder at the stables behind them.

"Depends on the runner." Rogawani replies with a chuckle, brushing a few strands of hair out of his eyes before turning to look at his mount. "The main thing when they get spooked or bolt like that is to stay calm." He reaches out and strokes the runner's shoulder slowly. "They can't read minds, so they respond to how you act. If you tense up, or seem frightened, that's only going to make it worse." He explains, and then the side of his mouth quirks up into a half-grin. "Well, I don't know about outrunning racers. He's a good sprinter but his real skill is the long distance." With a firm pat to Rider's side, the runner gives a light sway of his head. "This guy can go for hours, long after those quick-speed runners have given up. That's what makes him a great messenger runner."

What begins as a small person-shaped silhouette eventually resolves itself into Enkavir, ambling along into the meadow with a book tucked under his arm and hands in his pockets. His eyes are on his feet as he walks, only glancing up to mark his path now and again. One such upward glance takes in the shape of the familiar grey gelding, and the even more familiar shapes of Thea and Rogawani, and the tree he was trekking toward becomes an afterthought, his feet taking him to the paddock instead. When he gets close enough he lifts a hand in an easy wave and offers a greeting pitched low to not startle the runner.

Thea nods, "If I had to go far, I'd want endurance too then." She offers the palm of her hand to Rider, smiling at the animal. "He is nice, Ro." She frowns slightly, trying to understand, "Well if that's so, how do you keep them calm if you're upset or afraid then? How do you keep from letting them sense it?" She notes the perked ears and slight lift of Rider's head and turns, "Kav! Hi." Her smile is genuine and warm, evidence that she is not nearly as tense around the runners as she was earlier. "Get all those records sorted?"

"There's only a handful of endurance runners out there. They don't make the big bucks like the racers and they aren't in as much demand as the bigger drafters." Rogawani sigh somewhat whistfully, loosening his grip on the reigns just enough that Rider can come forward and sniff at Thea's hand before offering it a little nuzzle. "Goodonya." He comments to the runner, making a nonsense word that seems to be some sort of praise. Raising his own hand, he echoes the greeting from Enkavir before answering Thea's question. "How do you keep those emotions from effecting your dragons?" Perhaps it isn't a real answer, but he lifts his eyebrows slightly, hinting that the answer to both is likely one and the same. "G'day Enkavir. I promise I won't let any runners take off with her today. You have my word." Sheepishly, the boy smiles, flicking the ends of his reigns against the opposite palm.

Enkavir's eyes go from Thea to the runner, to her hand at his muzzle and his brows go up. "Well that looks promising, I must say. At least you aren't getting tossed or flopping or whatever it is happened yesterday, mmm?" He offers her a warm smile and comes to lean a hip against the fence, hands lingering in his pockets. "He really is a handsome runner, Rogawani." The lad in question gets the tail end of that smile, and then a chuckle at the promise. "You ought to be promising her I figure. It just takes practice. And I think the key is to keep your body relaxed, especially if they are trained to take off when you squeeze your legs together. Something spooks you /and/ them and then you tighten up and-" he claps his hands softly together, pushing the top hand off like a streak, "off they go with you aboard."

"Well, racers always seemed like a big waste of resources to me." She shrugs, then considers, "We only have to do that when they're very young or if we're badly hurt." She mulls this over and shaker her head, "Not quite the same thing though Rogawani because they can understand every word we speak and we can use… some mental control too. I don't think that would work with a runner." Rogawani's next words cause her to look at the boy with wide eyes, "Seryth didn't say anything about riding! She said visit!" Enkavir's eyed next, not quite a glare but, it's close. "No I am not getting flopped today!" She looks from the boy to Enkavir while the man is speaking, her mouth opens to protest, "But, but…" She flushes just a bit, "It…. does?"

"Racers are for folks who have the marks and the time to spend on a non-working animal. Same as people who breed canines just as pets. Seems silly to me, but I've grown up with working animals." Rogawani explains, flexing his fingers a bit to loosten them up. As Enkavir comes to lean on the fence, the boy nods and straitens a little with pride. "Yep. This is Rider." He introduces the runner, but then chuckles as he looks back towards Thea. "You won't see me forcing you up on a runner. If you want another lesson, you just have to ask. If not, well that's okay too." He shrugs his shoulders, releasing the gelding's reigns and giving him a pat on the rear. "Go on now, get some exercise before nightfall." The runner simply stands there for a moment, seeming bored with the concept, but then begins to walk along the fence towards some others in the herd currently grazing at the far end of the paddock.

Enkavir blinks at the glare, holding up both hands palm out as if to block her words. "Hey, what'd I say?" Then she's sort of spluttering and he arches a brow. "Yeah, generally that's how it works. Is that… what happened?" If there is amusement under there somewhere, he's keeping it firmly in check. One corner of his mouth twitches a bit, and then it's still. Clearing his throat, he turns to Rogawani, nodding. "I guess if you race them and gamble you can make a decent amount but it all seems… well, like a gamble. No one should have that sort of time and money on their hands if you ask me."

Thea watches Rider amble off, "I dunno Ro, " she's doubtful about riding. "I mean, why would I need to… learn anyway? Seryth thought it might be fun." She steps towards Enkavir, "Nothing, I'm sorry and yes, but the show-off came charging up without a saddle or bridle, -after I flopped off- which made me mad and X'hil was there making stupid remarks and… I guess… I sorta did squeeze my legs when the thing started sidestepping." She has the grace to look ashamed, but that look in Enkavir's eyes does have her pressing her lips together. "Totally my fault for flopping off - I didn't follow Ro's instructions." Her voice is wry, "And I've apologised to him for that. Rogawani wasn't to blame for any of it."

Raising his shoulders upwards, Rogawani just offers a small smile. "Never said you needed to learn, but it's probably a good idea to at least get comfortable around runners." He gives a sideways glance to make sure the gray gelding isn't getting into any trouble, and then looks back at rider and record keeper. "Well, I certainly don't have that sort of time or money. I help collect bets now and again, but that's just to save a bit here or there towards new tack for Rider." He thumbs towards the runner with one hand, and then leans on the fence a bit. "No worries, Thea. I'm just sorry that happened is all. Runners are great animals, but sometimes all it takes is one bad thing to sour someone to them. Shards, look at what a few interactions with ovines have done."

Enkavir continues to control his grin, especially when Thea looks ashamed. "Well it sounds like you had quite an adventure anyway. I'm glad it wasn't Rogawani's fault though. I might not have believed you even if you said it was." He grins over at the younger man, then props an elbow on the fence. "I'm not really a good rider myself. I can ride a runner around a bit, had to on the cothold, but I'd never make it a long distance. I don't know how you walk after those at all." He casts an assessing glance over Thea, then shakes his head. "She won't be soured forever. Thea's not the sort to give up that easily, I don't think." He pauses then, blinking and then frowning over at Rogawani. "Ovines. Don't even mention them. I don't want to know."

Thea smiles half-heartedly at Rogawani. "Runner is nice, but don't know about the rest of them Ro. I mean, my Da wouldn't have them in our hold. They wouldn't get along with our camelids." Enkavir's words bring a blink and it doesn't help that in his eyes she can see… something that irks her, "Why would I even say that? I'm… a little hurt to hear you say it." She turns to leave, then stops. Not running. She promised. So she turns back and just stands there by the fence one hand resting on it. Obviously feeling awkward, she drops her head, adding softly, "Rogawani is a fine teacher. Patient and I think he kept me from getting hurt."

"You learn to sit certain ways so that the boys don't get too squished on the long journeys." Rogawani explains, giving a small chuckle towards Enkavir. Pushing himself up from the fence, he stretches himself out, back cracking just slightly before his arms drop once more to his sides. "Well, I can't say all animals are worthwhile, but my livelihood is in runners, so I've got to make sure they don't drive you folks too nuts." Offering an appreciative, but boyish smile towards Thea, Roy gives a little two-fingered salute. "I try my best and I'm glad you weren't hurt." As soon as he gets this much out, a man appears in the doorway leading from the stables into the paddock. He looms for a good moment or two before clearing his throat, causing Ro' to turn around. "Oh. Let me guess, stall duty?" The man just nods his head slowly. "Right." Giving a sheepish and apologetic look at Enkavir and Thea, the boy rubs at his neck. "Sorry to run, duty calls… in more ways than one." He scrunches his nose a little, and then turns to follow the retreating form of the tall stablehand who has been the only father figure in his life.

Enkavir instinctively reaches for Thea, but drops his hand when she turns back. "I'm not saying you /would/ say that, Thea. I just meant, he's a good guy and I wouldn't have imagined he would do anything to hurt you. That's all." He speaks gently, reasonably,a and leaves it at that, turning back to watch the runners exercise in the paddock. Rogawani's words about 'the boys' leave him looking sheepish and he clears his throat. "I just meant muscles in general but… thanks for the tip." As the messenger goes to leave he lifts the hand that's propped on the fence to wave after him. "Have a good one, Ro."

Thea listens, keeping her head down but nodding as Enkavir speaks. At Rogawani's comment, her head snaps up and she's…not sure what exactly to say to that, so she just weakly says the wisest thing she can think of, "Thank you?" Not like it's any advice she'll ever need, but she's a woman, she doesn't have to make sense. "Night Ro," She calls to his back. A few moments pass, softly, "And thank you, too, Kav." She doesn't say for what. Instead, "You… actually -ride- these things?" Like she can't really quite comprehend the fact.

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