Sweeping Stakes

Hannista Hold - Forest
The Hannistan forests of skybroom trees seem to cover the entire world here, flowing even past the river to the west and the mountains to the east. Color lives here in shades of green and yellow, with the vast sky stretching flawless beyond the tall treetops. Small holdings of woodcrafters and workers alike dot the forests, small enclaves contained amongst themselves in the wealth of the trees. To the north is the Hold itself, though in this endless forest of tall trees and infinite sky, that destination might be difficult to find.

Now normally, a report of a missing kid would be all in a day's work for Galaxy. A few well practiced sweeps over the area, find the kid and everybody's back home safe and home before dinner, ideally! Today's partciular case hasn't even really given the Search and Rescue wing the chance to bust out their standard manuevers before Hannista's Lord Holder was demanding (not asking, demanding) that absolutely all bodies able be brought out. Or maybe it was just his Steward Zavin passing on his own concerns with the backing of his boss's stationary because well the old lord is nowhere to be scene, the crane-ish steward has been demanding near constant updates on the work. It's his boy that is missing. A boy that is actually closing in on seventeen and left the Hold over three days ago on what should have been a routine trip to his aunt's cothold but never showed up there and didn't return home… there's a whole lot of time for something to have happened and a whole lot of area to cover. Definitely not an easy case and so hold and Weyr are both mustering in force for this search.

The main staging area is the gather grounds right outside Hannista's walls on the edge of the Skybroom forest. A few of the colorful tents have even been brought out to provide a bit of shelter to the make-shift command center while plenty of rooms for the dragons to land and take off, although the few runners around don't seem completely pleased with the draconic help, they're well trained enough not to bolt.

So let's be real here: Ajral is not Search and Rescue. She only even briefly considered Search and Rescue, but Healer Hall didn't have positive responses to that one — it would be a waste of her big, high status knot that she never would've gotten if she'd Impressed the first eight times. Thus, she normally wouldn't be here — but now she is here, and there's thus a competent Healer along for the ride, and a very large green dragon who would have preferred to be Search and Rescue. Or anything more interesting than flying to and from Healer Hall being the most important part of her job. She complains about it every single time they leave or return, so no dragon in earshot is missing that detail. Now Nav is nearly vibrating with excitement as she lands and lets Ajral hop off, then twitching her tail at the terrified runners. "Don't do that," Ajral calls over her shoulder as she makes her way to Galaxy's leadership, wherever they may be. « You're no fun! Folks, please keep in mind that she is not fun, » is offered as a warning to any nearby dragons.

Kovagath is here. Strapped up but stationary, the young blue is huddled in the prescribed 'dragon zone' looking a little put-out. (Probably because his enthusiastic attempts to lead the charge have been summarily slapped down by someone far more senior than himself; for the best really). While the blue sulks waits, Sh'y is doing whatever a Sh'y-guy does — waiting for instructions and looking a fair bit relieved that *he* is not leading anything.

Zekath is waiting, sentry-like, out of the way of the main landing area. The bronze hardly moves, save to occasionally shift his wings — and maybe he's eyeing those nervy runners (as trouble, not dinner — but don't think he won't make excuses for a snack). Could be he's eyeing Kovagath just as much (but not as a snack). K'vir is where the "action" is … or at least the preparation for it. He's due out for another sweep, but has returned under orders from the Wingleader; likely to change tactics. If he has comments on that or comments about a certain lord or the steward, well … he's biting his tongue. He does look troubled or maybe that's just how he looks when he's focusing on ten things at once. Either way, he's dressed in his flight gear, the straps on his bronze laden with other S&R regalia and he's giving as much attention possible to the present moment. It might be with some relief that this briefing is wrapping up, though it's leaning towards suggestion that names are about to be called.

« Or maybe she's the most fun and knows that searching for People is a lot more exciting than herding up stampeding runners. Which you'll have to do, if you scare them off. And miss out on the real action! » Inasyth's threat is still high spirited and laced with her usual champagne bubbles. The young gold has been sitting in the throng of dragons as well, a sign of JUST how serious the Weyr is taking this to send out even a weyrwoman to help with communications wrangling. Rhody's eyes widen with relief when she spots K'vir walk in. Seems she's got the Zavier's mother on her arm and had been for who nows how long. "Here… why don't you show the drawings you had made up to the riders, ma'am. They're the ones that are looking for your son." The older woman sniffles and starts handing out a few tearstained drawings of a lanky teen, with the same hooked nose as the steward and a mess of straw colored hair even as Rhodelia mouths what could be either a 'thank you' or 'i'm sorry' to the riders she sent the woman towards.

Ajral is trying to tune out Navenath until Rhodelia appears with the woman and the drawings, and then she has to about-face and actually include the green in what she's seeing as much as possible. Not that Nav exactly has keen eyes for something so small, but she's actually a lot better at locating things than her rider might be. "Well," she says first, "this is a pretty good image," and then realizes — while Nav is begrudgingly agreeing, « I guess flying is way better than herding, anyway, so I can see your point, » — that she could also be a bit more help than that. She offers a gentle hand for the worried woman's arm, and a, "We empathize with how hard this must be for you," in her most relaxing, almost hypnotically soothing, tones. "We'll do everything we can."

Kovagath is committed to his pouting waiting; the (second) silent sentinel, just with a little more pout. But he's good enough not to try and interject, even if his wings rustle and his tail twitches and he'd love to get this show on the road (or in the air) already. Sh'y, meanwhile, takes one look at the tears and the sniffling and just about backpedals the way he came. He won't. But he will look very grateful that Ajral is doing her healer-voice-thing so he can just kind of scoot around and try to peek at the pictures, if he can. « Do we really need the pictures? » wonders Kova, breaking his sulking silence with curious questions. « Just how many boys are lost in the woods today? »

Apology accepted, Rhodelia. K'vir was probably hoping to avoid Zavier's mother (again). He's already heard everything, his head overly filled with details upon details — but now that he's been spotted and wrangled, all he can do is muster up the proper manners and what is hopefully a convincing expression of compassionate understanding. Okay, he's not that kind of jerk but he's tired and likely wanting to be back out there rather than nitpicking things that've been nitpicked to death already! "I'll make sure that some of these are shared among the S&R riders, as well as some of those on the ground." he replies, tipping his head in a respectful nod to the upset mother while taking those tear stained drawings with care. Leaving one for Ajral, K'vir gives both her and Rhody a sidelong look that is likely a 'you got the mother handled?' and 'thank you' muddled up in there. It's a good thing Sh'y doesn't backpedal, though K'vir wouldn't have been against a reason to chase the bluerider down. Then they could've escaped together! As it stands? "You're with me." Tag! With one of those precious drawings nearly slapped right to Sh'y's chest if he's not stopped prior to it. « Everyone gets lost in the woods. You'd think they'd get the memo or something! » Zekath's dry humored and dual-flanged comment rolls out.

The healer voice might just be magic as it does produce a few more sobs from the woman, but they seem to be a more productive sort than her earlier near-constant-but-half-hearted sniffles. "He's my baaaaaaby! Such a good boy! What if… a feline got him? Or the runner ran off a cliff? Or there was a flash flood?" Rhodelia is well accustomed to the list of dire what-ifs and just gives a roll of her eyes (behind the woman's back of course) before stepping back up. "They'll still find him. And there hasn't been enough rain in the past seven for flash floods, the starcrafters assure me." And as for K'vir's look on handling things, she gives a nod. And one of those precious drawings the wingsecond tosses at Sh'y even includes a drawing of the runner the kid was riding on, a caramel and white colored pinto of your typical riding runner, nothing fancy. As for who gets lost, Inasyth thankfully keeps her bubbling giggles to the draconic-frequencies and not where holders might overhear. « I think there's only one lost, but if there's more, bring them all back! I could start a collection! »

Navenath is screwing up Ajral's ability to focus on being the soothing mindhealer, because she is intent on Doing Things and Being Helpful. Her wings pan out, tilt up, tilt back — she is stretched and prepared for duty. « If we find anyone extra it will be pretty cool, right? Maybe I can get one of them to give me a massage if we rescue some extra people … » Because that is the most important thing to her. Ajral, for her part, doesn't speak so much as observe; she takes her observing all the way back to her dragon to mount up as soon as she can offer another moment of soothing for the heartbroken mother. « Can we go now? »

Sh'y might have some (wise?) words to say about runners and cliffs. Before any can actually be spoken, there's the slap of a picture against his chest and a perfect excuse to about-face and follow K'vir, hopefully away from the crying woman. He gives the drawing a dutiful look, studying the details in-between making sure he doesn't trip on the walk, a crease across his brow. The rendering of the runner is a helpful tidbit (and, to be fair, Shy is more likely to recognize the animal than the boy, should they come across the pair). "Do we suspect foul play?" is wondered of K'vir, though he tries to keep his voice low enough not to add that to the list of 'what-if's' playing out behind him. « Do they? » asks Kovagath, equal parts alarmed and suspicious of this. « Maybe they need better maps. » Do they have maps to begin with? « Or not go into the woods at all. » Clearly everyone should just stay home and snooze!

K'vir probably has (debatable) wise words to share too, but knows to save that for later. Far away from here and preferably behind closed doors and over much alcohol! "We'll be going now," he informs the tearful-mother, though he pointedly looks at Rhodelia for most of it. "Zekath will keep in touch." With Inasyth, with Galaxy's Wingleader — the standard protocol for any good soldier S&R rider. He'll note Ajral returning to Navenath to mount up, taking that cue to begin walking back towards the landing grounds where Zekath waits; no longer sentinel, but standing at the ready. When they're a safe distance away, K'vir will answer Sh'y in his strange, distracted way; it puts an almost hesitant cadence to his voice, like each word is carefully picked. "Not the usual signs. Higher chances the kid's a runaway. Think of the age, the … circumstances." Did he almost look over his shoulder? he almost did "Still," he continues, focusing back on the bluerider but pitching his voice for other riders to hear. "Couldn't hurt to keep an eye out for trouble." « Forests might not be the problem here. Everyone ready? Gonna relay our maps and visuals in… » Zekath doesn't exactly countdown but he does make good on the warning; information is passed along, along with helpful landmarks and key tidbits that may have been added in by others. Little time will be wasted, once they're all mounted up, strapped in and cleared! The bronze will make sure they head in the direction they need to go, though the formation picked might have him in the rear rather than ahead; he's the larger, slower flier, after all! And they've got lots of forested area to cover! Repetitive — until it's not. A clearing up ahead yields what could be signs from wagons and once that has been reported back, K'vir gives an immediate signal to land.

Alas, Rhodelia and Inasyth both know it's there duty to hold down the fort so to speak and so they just watch and wave as Galaxy and Friends head out, the goldrider at least putting on her best comforting face as she sits next to the mother and tries her best to stop the waterworks from starting all up again.

Repetitive as the flying might be, at least it's pretty and a good stretch of the wings for the dragons. Those skybroom trees are tall and the forest is pretty thick. Not much for aerial eyes to see until there is that clearing up ahead, with enough space for a few dragons to land if they don't mind squeezing in tight together. While the couple of wagon could be some rather clever renegades, it seems a lot more likely to be regular traders as the wagons seem loaded up with run of the mill trade goods, some leather stuff. A bit of pots and pans. Looks like someone's got the gear for some minor not-quite-smithing. The caravan looks like they may have just arrived to start setting up camp for the night. A woman working on directing some young kids on how to best gather firewood for the campfire while a man sees to the runners… most seem to be sturdier draftbeasts but there is one that sticks out like a pinto colored thumb.

The deepening frown across Sh'y's face says he'd perhaps thought of that as well. Runaways. He dutifully resists his own glance-back by pretending to study the drawing a bit more, before splitting from K'vir to head to Kovagath's side. The blue is crouched and ready, anxious to get them in the air and doing something productive. Tucking the drawing carefully into a pocket, Sh'y is up and strapped in, ready for the order to 'go'. When it comes, the pair are in the air and sliding into place, both pairs of eyes peeled and looking as best they can. A confirmation comes from Kovagath just before they angle down toward the clearing, the blue quick to land and let his rider off. Even before Sh'y is down, Kova is eyeballing that runner as fiercely as Sh'y was. « Looks like we found our lost boy. Or at least his ride. » But just in case, Shy will bring out that drawing once again, and do his due-diligence of comparing beast to artistic rendering.

« Damn trees! » Zekath's dual-flanged exclamation is part curse, as the bronze angles down after Kovagath and the others to land; only it's a tighter squeeze for him and he misjudged one branch that made itself rudely acquainted with his flank. Fffff— it doesn't tickle, guys! But he's a big boy tough and he'll land without outward fussing even with bruised ego hide. « Oh, now that looks suspicious! » Is it suspicious? K'vir could be drawing similar conclusions but doesn't act upon the assumption, unbuckling from the straps and dismounting. Glancing to Sh'y, he'll signal for the bluerider to do the same if he hasn't already. "Stay close. Eyes and ears open. I'll do the talking." Regretfully. K'vir would rather NOT do the talking but he can't exactly get out of it now. Not now that they've literally crashed this camp! Time to go make introductions amid any chaos?

Crashing indeed! The caravan goers seem mighty startled to have riders descend on them, and more than just a single solitary sweeprider at that! The woman scurries the young children from the wood gathering and into one of the wagons, while the man that seems to be the leader and a few younger men wrestle with the runners, making sure to keep them downwind from the dragons. As suspicious as the pinto might seen, there doesn't seem to be any sign of the gawky, blonde Zavier. All the folks in the caravan seem to share a bit of a family resemblance. Stocky and dark and about as opposite of the steward's family as possible. Once the runners are all secured, the oldest man takes a handkerchief out of his pocket and wipes some sweat off his receeding hairline and approaches K'vir to take on his own designated-talker duties. "Something seem to be the problem, riders?"

Thank Faranth for that! Sh'y has never been so glad to be the lowest rung on the ladder — he's quite happy to play the silent shadow, at least when it comes to politics and small-talk. There's a pat for Kovagath, and probably some silent words about staying put and staying still, before he's falling into step, dark eyes drifting with alarming accuracy toward the pinto of the pack herd. Hopefully it is easily explained, even if Kovagath seems to be of the same mind as his bronze-boss. « A curious coincidence at the very least. » Only he's not so sure it's a coincidence at all.

Careful, Sh'y! K'vir could abruptly retire and hand him his knot! Trial by fire, right? In all seriousness, it's unlikely to happen! Even if there's some tension and unease in the bronzerider's frame despite his efforts to look calm and non-threatening. "We're sorry to interrupt and disrupt your camp." he begins, all formality while he keeps his focus on the man approaching them. K'vir is relying on Sh'y to look around, as he continues. "K'vir, Galaxy Wingsecond, bronze Zekath's rider. My wingrider's," A small gesture to Sh'y, "and I are looking for a missing teenage boy…" And it's here that he'll produce one of those images, flipping it so the man can see without actually handing it over. "That runner?" He nods stiffly to the one in question among their animals. "Matches the description of the beast he was riding."

"I'm Jecel, and this is my 'van," The man introduces himself with a wave towards the wagons and the what are probably nephews or sons still over with the runners. As the reason for the visit is revealed he lets out a sharp whistle. "Missing boy? Need any help looking for him?" At least he seems pretty willing to volunteer. As the picture is passed over, there's a quick flash of recognition. "Zav? He's missing?" He glances between K'vir and the other riders as well. "I saw him a couple days ago. Was asking to go towards Ressac. I don't go all the way, but got him to a ferry a couple days ago. Traded the runner for safe passage. Said he was going to an uncle in seacraft?"

Both Sh'y and Kovagath are keeping sharp eyes on the camp, even if Kova might not have the best view. At least the bluerider tries to keep it casual, but there's no real denying that he's looking around — and not just at the runners. But there's an amenable nod of his head in greeting when he's referenced, acknowledging the man but definitely letting K'vir head this interrogation conversation. As the details are revealed, there's a jump of eyebrows upward and a quick glance at the man, as though to judge his honestly. At least there's nothing about Sh'y that screams 'intimidating' except perhaps his height (and right now, he's the short(er) one).

K'vir's reaction is immediate too, complete with a darted look to S'hy at his side, a lone brow quirked up in silent query. Uncle? They were told the boy was visiting an aunt — and Seacraft was definitely not mentioned! "You know Zavier?" Still not quite an interrogation but with his attention turning back to Jecel, it's obvious that further questions are incoming! "When you brought him to the ferry, was that the first time you'd ever seen him?" Unfortunately, it seems like that earlier offer of help to search has been forgotten (or delayed) in the wake of some developing clues! « Ah. Looking more and more like your classic runaway scenario. Question is, from what? » Zekath muses to Kovagath, while trying to ease himself into a less cramped position — it's met with some mixed success. « Or who? » There's a pause, as if he's 'listening' to some off-channel feed. Then: « Ressac. Any ideas why our kid's possibly en route there? Or you think they're blowing smoke up our asses? » Classy.

From what Sh'y can see taking a closer look at the runners, they all seem very well taken care, although definitely working animals. There are wagons right there that need to be pulled after all. Jecel takes that handerkerchief out again as he leans against one of the wagons. "Zavier, he told us call him Zav. Ran into him a little outside Greenhall Cothold." A location that would have been the opposite direction of the aunt's hold he was supposed to have been going to. "Seemed to be having a real hard time trying to make his campfire. I felt sorry for the kid."

Kovagath is doing his best to follow this conversation and keep his eyes scanning the area — both the clearing and the forest around them — just in case! Sh'y, as well, is keeping eyes and ears open, though there are a few occasions when he goes a little distant, conversing with Kova. His position is 'alert but relaxed', listening and with an air of mild curiosity. He's either got a good poker face, or he doesn't seem too worried about nefarious intent on the part of Jecel. « Maybe he loves the sea, » says the blue, though he doesn't believe that to be the case at all. It is an option and so he throws it out there. Even if it is unlikely. « His father, maybe. Fathers can be… difficult. » His mother, too. But Kova doesn't have experience with difficult mothers. He shifts in his spot, trying to give the bronze a bit more room, wings tucked tight against him. « Don't think he's lying, » he decides, perhaps relaying a bit of Sh'y's own thoughts. « Doesn't seem to know who the kid was in the first place, and isn't that curious. But if he's runnin' guess he doesn't wanna be found. »

« Unfortunately he doesn't get much of a choice. » Zekath sounds almost sympathetic for Zavier's situation, if it does turn out the kid is merely making a run for it. « We've been told to find him and I don't think K'vir's wanting the headache of fabricating some lie. So we chase this to whatever end it leads us to. Hopefully one that has us find the kid so he can clean up his own mess. » K'vir's frown deepens when the name of Greenhall is dropped, mouth drawing to a grim line. "Any other details you can remember? How far was this ferry?" Presuming it wasn't a well known one! He glances again to Sh'y, an unspoken hint that the bluerider can speak up with his own questions now. K'vir is going to preoccupy himself with crunching some of the new information; time, distance and a lot of why is none of this matching up.

« There're lots of reasons why someone might wanna leave and not return. Maybe he's got a good one. » It's not really a question, though Kova isn't making a case to leave the kid lost — just providing his own two-cents as the thought comes to him. Sh'y does have a few questions, though they might be to satisfy his own curiosity. He's pretty sure Jecel is telling the truth. "You said he traded the runner for safe passage… did you pay his way on the ferry? Did he give any more information about why he was leaving, or where he was going?" He might have said where he was going, but perhaps they got to talking along the way? "Did he look like he was ready for long distance traveling?"

Jecel might make his living by selling things, but his wares seem to be more practical, everyday things that might as well sell himself. Definitely no poker face here, the confusion and the thinking clear on his face. "Yeah, it was the Black River. Should take him to the Sea pretty quick and then eventually hitch another ride on toe Azov? Told him he better get pretty good at fileting fish as he'd be working for his dinner all along the way, although I did give him enough marks to pay for the ferry. A couple days on a wagon alone isn't exactly fair trade for a healthy runner, and I wouldn't want to be called a cheat! He mostly kept to himself. Sonna tried to get him to open up a few times around dinner but…" He gives a shrug. "And he had a couple changes of clothes and a pack with him. Maybe a bit light but from my experience, plenty of young men think they can get by without much." That is pitched a bit louder with a look towards the other caravan members, a couple of whom promptly start to busy themselves with the other camp chores.

Zekath has gone quiet, though there's an almost electric hum to his mindscape and over the continued link with Kovagath; not gone, but the bronze is definitely thinking over things. « Maybe. » he agrees, though his tone suggests he's not quite sold on the idea. K'vir likely has other opinions forming, not all of them pleasant ones but more leaning in favor of Zavier's reasoning. There's a flicker of approval for the questions Sh'y asks of Jecel and it expands slightly to the trader himself — the bronzerider has made the decision then to trust the man and take his word as honest. "Thank you. We appreciate you answering our questions." And they've more than enough, at least by his judgement, to regroup and make the next decisions. K'vir dips his head respectfully to Jecel, clearly not intending to linger any longer than they need to. Even if it means making a hasty exit! "We'll leave you to your work. Clear skies, Jecel." « We're going to have to report this. » Zekath informs Kovagath gloomily, but in a way that suggests that this is more K'vir's thought relayed privately. Another pause and now a hint of insubordination smirking. « Eventually. » Oh ho, what is the bronze suggesting here? Shall they do a little more covert snooping before alerting the calvary? is Kovagath in or not?

Kovagath (and Sh'y) is definitely in!

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