Flying Blind (Weyrling Lesson)

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.

An orange glow gilds the western horizon, fading to peach before the twilight purples the remainder of the winter skies and tints the snow blanketing the Xanadu landscape lilac. Both Belior and Timor, low in the eastern sky, are on the rise and each are full while overhead the boldest of the stars are just emerging. It is a perfect evening, the air has that crystal clarity that brings everything into sharp focus. It's been several days since a certain group of weyrlings had their encounter with the mushroom smoke and needed those few days of recovery. Though there's been no punishment for an inadvertent being stoned, for all the weyrlings there will be drills on self-grounding. And some lessons with botanists on how to recognize toxic plants. They've been told to expect that.

The group has been since kept apart from the rest of the group for their lessons - make-up lessons for them and at least one stern lecture about how a moment's careless behavior might endanger their lives and that of their dragon's. Tonight is the first time the weyrling group has been reunited for lessons, told to wear winter flight gear and meet in the clearing where V'dim awaits with Isobeth. Though the dragons were cleared for flight and hunting as soon as their weyrlings were no longer under the influence, any scratches to their lifemate's hides have, in the meantime, been tended to and healed so only now are they to be harnessed for flight. It must have been a long sevenday away from the skies for the riders!

It certainly was, and Mur'dah is itching to be aloft again. Dressed in his full flight leathers, his jacket still wafts mint scents as he moves and to anyone who gets close enough to him to smell it. The scent lingers on, but at least it's not the smell of smoke and mushrooms? With Kalsuoth's scratches healed up, the brown is eager to be aloft with his 'mate, wings rustling as they approach and Mur'dah gives a sharp salute.

It's the first time Soriana's been looked at sternly for breathing… but really, she can't argue with it, given the circumstances. In fact, she's looking forward to the lessons on grounding herself (though she hasn't particularly been enjoying the being grounded part). She's been spending plenty of time with Luraoth on the ground as part of that recovery, and the two seem calm and comfortable as they approach now, Soriana bundled in her winter gear and Luraoth wearing her riding straps. The gold's mind brushes out in greeting to the others, and Soriana echoes Mur'dah's salute as she steps up beside the brownling, then glances to him to offer a smile.

Excitment tinges Xeosoth's fast whirling eyes that near glow in the dark. Along side him is M'kal all dressed up in his brand new riding leathers, the smokey color making him a hard outline to see in the gathering darkness. The blue is all set with his straps and M'kal strides forward several paces to offer a sharp salute towards V'dim.

Idrissa is making her way on towards the meeting area like the others, dressed in her winter flight gear with goggles and gloves in hand. Her gaze drifts over the ones here while Tahryth is following at her side. The green has her straps on, clearly eager to get back into the flying routine with her rider. Tahryth's wings flutter a few times, tail slowly swaying before a soft greeting warble is sent towards all. Rissa offers a salute to V'dim as she pauses nearby where Mur'dah's other side it seems.

Kanekith quite enjoyed the aftermath of the forest incident. Ka'el has allowed him to get away with nearly everything since! Guilty conscience, you see. And so of course the bronze reaped the rewards of extra oiling, extra rubbings, and extra special care to those scratches of his that healed rather quickly. He's been extra picky about his couch. Extra particular about his food that he wasn't able to fly and get himself for a time there, and just an overall extra spoiled rotten brat of an arrogant dragon. But … all good things must come to an end, yes? Plus, the both of them want to fly! Strapped and ready, the bronze pair arrive with the others, glad to see some of his non-core group around too! K'asin. Jnelle. All the others that were not hospital bound and kinda on punishment but not really. He settles in with the lot of the group, flashing a grin before saluting smartly.

It's not dark yet! But oh, it's going to be. Right now the snow reflects and augments what little light remains in the sky V'dim returns the salutes crisply, his ice blue eyes as sharp as ever, his silence while waiting for the group to assemble no more awkward, but no less that is usual either. His time is spent inspecting each dragon with a walk-round and a tug of straps, rattle of buckles and jerk of clips to test that the ability to harness their beasts hasn't grown rusty. Wordless is he, his grunt of approval the only sound he makes, though should he find something in the straps amiss, he'll bore holes into the weyrling with a stare as the weak link is fixed and retest. Awwwwkward, thy name is V'dim! Inspection finished, his rumble of throat-clearing echoes harshly against the cliff wall behind them and he gives them their flight prep in a dry-voiced, "Tonight you will experience a change in perception." Not that they haven't already, but this one is planned! "With lowered illumination you can expect your vision to be affected in the following ways: you will have a reduced acuity - shapes will be seen but what they are will be difficult to discern. Your depth perception will be off, colors will become basically non-existent. All of this will affect your landings, your take offs and your formation. Do not take this lightly! Your dragon's vision will be superior to your own and you need to trust them when visibility is low." There's more. Isn't there always? But he pauses to breathe and let that sink in.

Mur'dah glances back at Soriana to return the smile, looking over to study Luraoth for a moment before his attention moves to his other clutchmates. Smiles are offered all around, and he peers closely at Kanekith's sides to see how the bronze has healed up. Then he stands still while V'dim inspects his straps, and then he listens and then he nods. He's on his best behavior, clearly, rubbing Kalsuoth's narrow muzzle. Tilting his head, he peers thoughtfully into the sky, already squinting a bit, before he turns to look at his dragon. The dark brown seems to almost vanish in the gathering gloom, but Mur'dah is used to that. He can only imagine what it'll be like in the air, riding an invisible dragon.

Weyrlings, reporting for duty! Or, well, for lesson. Similar, but not entirely the same. Soriana gives other smiles to the rest of the group as they arrive, then returns her attention to V'dim. If nothing else, this incident has done wonders for the sharpness of some of those salutes. It's like they don't want to risk annoying the weyrlingmaster any more than they already have. Soriana knows she certainly double-checked her straps before she came out here! And, fortunately, they pass V'dim's inspection. As the weyrlingmaster starts speaking, her gaze snaps to him sharply. Wait, what, is this the botanical class alrea- no. Oh. She lets out a breath, relaxing slightly. Lowered illumination. Flying in the dark. This, she can do. Or, well… Luraoth can do. She glances to the gold, who meets her gaze with a serene green one and positive thinking, then returns her gaze to V'dim to listen to the rest, because of course there'll be more.

M'kal is completely silent through out the inspection though Xeosoth does try to greet V'dim with an excite nose bump. M'kal winces a bit as it is explained what they are doing tonight and he takes a step sideways to lay a hand on the blue hide.

Idrissa tilts her head as she glances over the others and then is still once V'dim is there to look over things, well the strap things at least. She shifts watching closely to make sure all is well, at least Rissa remembered how to put the straps on and nothing seems out of place! One point for.. Well someone.. She takes in a soft breath as she hears what they are to be doing tonight and her gaze flicks skywards along with Tahryth's as the pair seem to be wondering along the same lines. This could prove interesting..

Straps, passed! Ka'el's head lift just a smidgeon higher as Kanekith passes the strap test with a grade above 'barely passable'. Oh straps, you have been a thorn in his side! Has he finally conquered you? A silent thumbs up is given to Jnelle across the way before he pays attention to what the day … er, evening holds for them. A change in perception, huh? Well…wait, what does that mean? Flying with lowered illumination, huh? Fancy words for darkness! He glances to the swirling eyes of his bronze, a half grin quirking his lips. Cake. … Ha, he wishes, though a healthy dose of confidence can do wonders during application, right? He thinks back, sharing recent memories of the training field and blindfolded exercises. Ground and sky are two totally different arenas, though at least they have a little practice? And plus, the moons are up! That's got to be helpful!

V'dim will tolerantly pat Xeosoth's muzzle with a rusty chuckle before he goes on with his checking of the blue's straps. "As a wingrider," his gaze drifts to Soriana and he adds, "and sometimes on diplomatic missions, you will be doing night flying. Generally it is preferable to allow your eyes thirty minutes to adjust to the darkness; this is not always possible, however it's a precaution you should take when you are not involved in an emergency." Perhaps that is why this lecture now, as their eyes will be adjusting. "As the moons will not always be up, and they do not remain fixed, you will be using the stars as your reference points. Do not use stars low in the sky; these can easily be confused with hold lights. Instead," and he points to a solitary bright light due east, but high in their sky, "That is the Yokohama. It will always remain fixed in the same spot and if you use that you will always know true east when in Xanadu's skies." He points out another few stars, one for the north, one for the west and one for the east, naming them as well. "Does anyone know why we do not use landmarks when night flying?" He'll wait for replies, clearly expecting them to just toss out their thoughts.

Mur'dah looks up and then around, leaning against Kalsuoth's neck while they wait and the brown fidgets, eager to be aloft. "Because they're fuzzy?" he tosses out, brows furrowed a bit as he knows that's not /quite/ what he means, but he's not quite sure how to say what he means.

M'kal tilts his head in thought a moment to mull over the question. "Because they aren't as crisp in the dark?"

Both moons! So they've got the tricky double shadows to contend with, in addition to there being more light in general. Soriana half-smiles at V'dim's addition, and gives a small nod of her head. Maybe she doesn't have quite as good a reason to be here as the others, but she's not about to count herself out. Not from this lesson. Late-night diplomatic missions? Sure, works for her. Soriana glances to the sky, staring out into the dimly lit distance for a few moments. There's the Yokohoma, oh so far away. It seems so tiny. It wasn't nearly so tiny when she was actually up there. Distances are weird. She looks back down to V'dim again, listening to the answers from Mur'dah and M'kal. "I guess you could use fire height patterns, if you had to?" Say, an overcast night. Oh, wait, V'dim asked why they didn't use them, not how they could use them anyhow. "But it'd be easy to confuse them with other lights."

Idrissa glances towards the 'star' that is Yokohoma, a soft oh escaping her at the thought and she smiles. "It's so far away.." An yet they have all been there to vist which makes it seem a bit strange that is for sure. Then there is a question and she looks back to V'dim, pondering a moment. "Because we can't be sure there the right ones.. It is at night so it could be any landmark. The sky's are always in the same spot so if you know the right stars you can get just about anywhere?" Sure that works..

Both Ka'el and Kanekith look up at the sky, eyeing the stars as they're pointed out, lingering on Yokohama longest of all. He's been there! Twice! And it was oh so cool and interesting and … now Kanekith is prying. He's been there? Oh so high? Higher than he can fly by wingbeats alone? When? Why? Who carried him? What's up there? The bombardment of questions has him outwardly shushing his lifemate. "Shhh.." I'll tell you in a while, buddy. For now, quiet so I can listen! See? There was a question he nearly missed. "Stars stay. Pern turns.." he murmurs on Idrissa's heels. "They change position.. but in the same way. Uhh .. landmarks?" Good question! "They can be had to see.. but so can stars, if the skies aren't clear. Maybe because thigns can happen to landmarks? Crumble, fall, shift, erode with time. Might confuse the dragons?"

V'dim nods to both Mur'dah and M'kal, but seems to want more. He nods approval to Idrissa and then Ka'el, "Exactly. Though when you are *Betweening* on a cloudy night, you may use your memory of where the stars would be that time of night and you will arrive in the right place at the right time." Timing it is a danger that he doesn't go into further at this time. As the stars change so slowly over time, arriving turns away won't be as much of a danger, but they'll be studying star charts and drilling at night to memorize them. Oh joy! As for using landmarks in the dark, he explains, "In semi-darkness fixed objects will appear to shift and you will not have a horizon to correct your pitch. Surprisingly, he nods to Soriana's contribution. "Once you are over the Weyr, those - and the one on the starstones will be excellent points to use for landing in the clearing or the meadow. We'll practice that on a moonless night and each spot will require those lights in a different 'o'clock' on the horizontal plane below you." He draws a breath, "Those lights are distinct - they are red - so they will be recognizable from the air. Can anyone tell me why red is used up there? And after that, if no one has any questions, we'll mount up."

Mur'dah listens intently in the gathering gloom, but as to the red question…he doesn't know and looks around at his clutchmates, wondering if any of them have that magic answer that V'dim wants them to provide.

Not that betweening is more than a distant dream! Or nightmare? (For V'dim, probably. It's probably the most dangerous part of weyrling training, these days.) Soriana nods as she listens to V'dim's answers to the answers, tilting her head with brief surprise as her answer is actually a contribution. But, now she knows why it's true, so she nods despite the fact that she's the one who said it in the first place. As for why red lights… well, she has a guess. "Red hurts your eyes less." At least, when you're half-asleep and going down the hall and the lights are turned down low except the radio and a couple control panels. Once V'dim's finished taking answers and any questions have been resolved, she'll go ahead and swing up onto Luraoth's back. Ahhh. She's missed this.
"Red is a different color then the stars so you know what they are and that your now following some other stars?" Idrissa questions osftly.. Pondering and nods a bit to what Soriana says, possible! With her comments given she shifts and is quick to mount up on Tahryth's straps. A low happy warble escaping the green as she is eager to go.

"It's the nicest color of the rainbow?" Ka'el has nothing against red! It's a pleasing sort of angry color. Kanekith makes a noise that could be equivalent to a dragon chuckle (or snicker). Otr wait. Yeah what the girls said sounds so much better! Far more logical. Yes. That's probably right! He grins at them both and offers a shrug to Mur'dah. Yeah he had no clue either.

"Indeed, Soriana," V'dim says, "red light preserves night vision, so the nightwatch up on the starstones and fireheights won't be affected as much by red. And there are red stars, Idrissa. Or stars that appear red. They are far away and dim though and so not easily seen. The starstone and fireheights - and the radio tower lights will be directly below and bright enough to quite prominent. The tower will be blinking in regular three-second on, one second off intervals. You don't want to run into that." He just snorts at Ka'el's answer and shakes his grey head and then he's swinging aboard Isobeth. Her contact with the other dragons is warm, humidy and scented of lilies. « We launch. Watch for each other and take the single line formation in the sky behind me. » And up the green goes with a swish of wings that send the snow swirling to sparkle like magical pixie dust in the moonlight.

Oh, so red preserves night vision? That's nice. Soriana just knows she hates the blue LEDs with the fury of a thousand stars. She nods to V'dim, then glances over to Idrissa. Heh. "Think y'can probably figure out which way's up." What with the gravity and all? Though, that's right, there's the radio towers. She winces, and nods again. No running into those. Soriana settles into position on her dragon's neck and Luraoth's thoughts hold a lingering trace of the sunset as she listens to Isobeth. The gold waits a few moments to let some of the others launch with their own snow-flutters before spreading her wings and beating her way into the air. Maybe she just didn't want to get snow in their eyes, because her larger wings certainly raise a larger cloud of frozen ice bits.

To be continued - feel free to add your poses here as you have time

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