Sunset Illusions (Iczobyth's Maiden Flight)

Xanadu Weyr - Feeding Grounds
Sparse trees are scattered through this field on the western edge of the forest, not far north of the clearing. The pen extends partly up the hills to the southwest, and the trees grow sparser the further west one goes. Within the large corral are a variety of beasts - ovines, bovines, and wherries - free to roam and graze. The appearance of a dragon may send them one way or the other to try and escape. A small pond is set near one corner of the enclosure, and at times it reflects the low, bordering mountains.
Just at the forest's edge, set under the tree line, is a guest weyr for use in mating flights, a simple cottage made of weathered planking and grey stones.

Late afternoon at Xanadu, and while Rukbat is nearing the horizon, the golden rays still filter through to the more open areas of the weyr, giving everything a soft, warm glow - including the Feeding Grounds. Of course, the weyr itself isn't the only thing that has a soft glow to it, for one of the greens from the latest batch of weyrlings is also guilty of such - and currently Iczobyth sits at the edge of the pond, peering down at the reflection there, ignoring the animals that mill awkwardly around her as she disrupts their ability to drink.

For her own part, Ricki has found herself drawn to the feeding grounds as well - while she may not know exactly what to expect, she could hardly question what is soon to come, given her lifemate's behavior as of late. And so, she leans against the fence, arms folded as she just watches the scene in front of her, distracted, distant, and half-oblivious to her surroundings.

Neither Tsarziath nor N'kon could hardly fail to be alerted to Iczy's impending activities, given the living situation - not to mention the blue's constant contact with his clutchsib. As green and rider migrate towards the feeding grounds, so do the two males, keeping a healthy distance away. No cutting remarks or awkward insults today; instead, Tsari crouches in the tall grass, wings clamped tight against the barrel of his body, his tailtip twitching restlessly. His rider leans on the fence, hands clasped loosely before him as he studies the milling herdbeasts, outwardly calm - but for the faint line of tension singing down his too-stiff spine.

Firith wings in over the feeding grounds, circling lazily and scanning the milling herds and more importantly, the pond gazing green below. The nearly black Monaco dragon refused to return home when his rider's business was done. Another sweep over the grounds before Firith backwings to land a short distance off, better to not spook the silly beasties too soon. E'vyl takes longer to arrive at to the feeding pens than his Firith, the brownrider strolls towards the pens and veers his path to where he can already see a few rider's gather. He's got a mostly full mug of ale in hand since he just came from the Tavern where his business was. Never mind that his business was a 'friendly' little game of cards. Mug lifts and he murmurs a greeting around.

Kaylis was supposed to be… over there. Sent by the Monaco Weyrlingmaster to talk to the Xanadu Weyrlingmaster about important things but instead ending up landing next to the feeding pens thanks to a dragon that was Absolutely Insistent that it has to be there, it had to be now, and nothing else would make any sort of logical sense. While Grellith twitches himself into a somewhat settled position where he can watch and evaluate things to his hearts content, Kaylis just gives a little shrug and wanders over to join the other riders.

Lifting her gaze away from the pond, Iczobyth's attention wanders from arriving male to arriving male, before her muzzle drops back down to the water once more, as if considering, and checking those nearby against a mental list. Grellith, however, seems to draw her attention back, the unknown brown on the receiving end of a low, warning rumble - a sound that continues even as she given another look over those gathered. And then, she is on the move, charging from the pond towards one unfortunate group of milling herdbeasts, only shifting to the air for a short hop to land on one, wings lifting protectively around the creature as she looks to the others, daring one of the males to try and take it, though for the moment it remains untouched.

Motion nearby, out of the corners of her eye and behind her, pulls Ricki back to the present, and she is straightening, turning slowly to put her back against the fence, eyes darting from E'vyl to Kaylis, a slight bit of worry appearing as she watches the unknown riders, before N'kon is spotted, and her shoulders sag just slightly. "Uhm, Hi.." She offers after a moment, running a hand through her hair, even as she glances back over her shoulder at her lifemate, and the different sort of crowd gathering there.

Firith waddles closer, skirting his way around the pond and giving Iczobyth an appraising gaze. The brown sending an appreciative warble, perhaps for a recent gift he received. He crouches not far off, swirling gaze sweeping towards other males. The younger dragon from Monaco is snorted at, then pretty much ignored. The rest of the males are given a quick once over before they are dismissed from his thoughts too. When Iczobyth leaps and pounces one unfortunate beast, he begins to slink closer to the pens himself.

E'vyl leans against the rail, a nod to Ricki as he rest his mug on a fencepost "I should have grabbed a bottle." he states to everyone in general before settling in to be a spectator, drug along for a crazy ride with Firtih.

"Hello." The shoulder sag sparks a faint frown line between N'kon's stormy eyes - but other than that faint touch of unease, the photographer gives no other sign that he notices her reaction to his presence. Instead, he simply continues leaning against the fence, far enough away not to be an imposition - but easily close enough to be there if Ricki should indicate the need. As Iczobyth mantles over her herdbeast, Tsarziath half-rises from his crouch, his whirling red-orange eyes fixed on the green. He doesn't break manners yet, although his movements have taken on a decidedly lupine cast - he waits for her to blood first before selecting his own.

Grellith doesn't recoil, though there's a slight widening of his eyes that confirms he has not calculated that reponse. Interesting. His talons tap tap tap on the ground as he looks around, the running commentary in his head occassionally drifting out on a tendril of thought for any to hear. « Strange. Perhaps unsettled by sudden arrival. No, no, same reaction to all. » Slowly he moves forwards a little, staying out of the way of the mantling female despite the fact he appears to be looking pretty much everywhere other than directly at her. Each herdbeast is looked at closely, evaluated, dismissed, until… AHA! Small shift of feet, pause to calculate trajectory… MINE! The beast is down before it really has time to process what hit it. Though it wasn't really directed at her, Kay is happy to reply with a quiet, "Hi." Following almost immediately with, "Don't mind him, he likes to just watch. Not in a creepy way, he's just… it's a thing. Calculations. I have no idea." E'vyl gets a nod and a smile, always good to have someone you recognise around, but it seems she's pretty much gone into AWLM mode and focussing on Ricki (well except for a brief nod at N'kon). "Let me guess, first time?"

« You weren't on the list. » Iczobyth pushes back at the younger of the Monaco browns, though, she doesn't add anything else to chase him off, instead just watching him until he has a herdbeast of his own. The creeping Firith receives a long look, and then with a soft warble to her clutch brother, she is finally dropping her muzzle to the beast beneath her. For a moment she seems as if she may go for the stomach, but after the briefest hesitation, she instead goes for the throat, blooding the beast even as she keeps faceted eyes focused on the males, wings half-extended, waiting, watching - measuring.

Ricki's attention drifts back to Niko again, giving him a nervous smile, a shuffling half-step taking her in that direction, before Kaylis's words have her freezing, eyes darting back to the other woman in the group, mouth opening and closing a few times before the hilariousness of the 'watching' seems to get to her, and she is dissolving into giggles, nodding absently at the 'first time' question, even as she leans against the fence for support, noticeably more relaxed - though E'vyl does get another hesitant look. Or, maybe that is for his beer.

Firith cruises a little closer, attention singling out one beast. When Iczobyth has put her beast out of it's misery, the red snouted dragon takes a couple more stalking paces before speeding up his pace and leaping up, only enough to take down a beast and make quick work of draining it. Soon he's got a quick burst of energy and focuses his full attention on princess of the pond. He's old enough to know to stay well away from her, she could get all slashing and rippy on any male stupid enough to get within reach.

E'vyl glances around as several riders seem to claim a spot amoing the rail. And he doesn't miss the perhaps longing look from Ricki to his mostly full mug. He offers a little smirk and hands the ale over "Here. You probably need it more than me." The slacker beachbum has had more than his fair share of booze today, but don't tell him that.

Tsarziath wastes no time in snatching his own beast, going from coil to strike to blood in a flash of midnight blue with a moonstone chaser. His eyes barely leave Iczy - other than to note where each of the other chasers are - as he rips out the throat of his herdbeast, long tongue coiling amidst the bloody carnage left behind. Although usually quite the neat eater, it appears mating flights bring out a bit of beast lurking beneath the urbane exterior. Niko winces at the red splatters decorating the blue's hide, but otherwise continues to watch the field, keeping track of everything while remaining still as the green's rider inches closer to him. At her giggles, his own tension bends slightly; not quite breaking, but easing enough to allow a faint slump of his spine.

And there's the answer, though another response that Grellith had not computed! How could he have gotten this one so wrong? Needs more variables! His head lowers to drink, slicing into the neck of his felled beast with surgical precision. While his body may stay still, his unusually large eyes are darting this way and that as he assesses the situation unfolding around him. Other brown. Blue. Green. Everything is studied closely.

Kaylis seems unphased by the giggles, if anything she seems more amused than even Ricki was. But then there's that whole mug offering thing and she can't help it. She Tsks. Out loud! "Be careful with that, you still need to keep control of things." It's almost as if her concentrating on Ricki has distracted her entirely from what's happening behind her - if only she payed attention to her own advice sometimes.

WIth the beast drained, Iczobyth hesitates for just a moment, letting a whirlwind of colors and images - each vibrant but fleeting - dance across her thoughts, reaching out to the others, before one that seems to linger - the hues of sunset reflecting in the waves. And then, she is suddenly launching skywards, hoping that her illusions caught her even a moment's advantage as she fights to gain altitude, to put space between herself and her chasers, and to try and figure out just -what exactly- her next step is. For now, there are no curves, no spins, no loops - she simply climbs higher and higher, planning, pondering - and coming to exactly no conclusion as the turns out towards the beach, and the sea beyond.

One hand extends towards the mug as it is offered, before Kaylis's admonishment has the young greenrider freezing, looking from brownrider to mug, to the one who surely means well, and back to the mug, before she sighs, dropping her hand. Not a moment too soon, it seems, because then her attention shifts back over her shoulder, and she slowly turns, groaning as she watches Iczobyth shoot skywards. "Well, here goes nothing.." She murmurs, glancing sideways at Niko and inclining her head so slightly, attempting to lure him closer, perhaps, even as the fence is doing most of the work keeping her upright.

Firithleaves his discarded beast in the dust as Iczobyth makes her tricksy escape. Her distraction earned her a a little time, but each male wastes no time in giving chase. Firith bellows his wings, scissoring them to gain altitude with each beat. For now, his focus is on the green speck leading them away from shore.

E'vyl grins and shrugs when the ale is ignored. "It's just a mug of ale, not a barrel of wine, but more for me then." He seems quite pleased to still have his mug though as Firith leaps a slow second after the proddy green does.

Tsarziath's wings flick up and out with an audible *snap*, his hind-legs propelling him upwards as he flings himself into the sky after his clutch sibling with a long, throaty snarl. No trace of the gentleman, with his impeccable tailoring and upright manners, remains - instead, the beast ever lurking within claws its way out, shoving to the fore and leaving his lordship dazedly by the wayside. With decidedly lupine grace, he lopes through the sky after the prize, slipping through the lengthening evening shadows on the real hunt. His single-minded intensity draws N'kon into his mind, and the bluerider does not so much as ignore his lover's entreaty as simply not notice it - he's caught, caught as surely as Iczy will soon be.

Grellith hesitates as Iczobyth launches, fidgetting incessantly as he runs his calcualtions. Let X equal green trajectory. Let Y be other males. Let… somehow the odds come out as being right for once. Excellent! Chance is good. Time to test theory in practice. His wings snap wide and he takes two hopping steps away from the drained corpse of his only blooding kill and launches after the fleeing green. Higher and higher, aiming for the sunset and whatever lies beyond. "Stay with us." Kaylis is quick to offer advice… at first. "Don't let her take over too much or… what the shell do you think you're doing you idiot!" The last is, thankfully, not aimied at poor Ricki. But as everyone knows shouting vainly at the sky will never do anyone any good. "You get your twitchy brown ass back down here right now!" Mom voice, alas, does not work on dragons. And apparently surprise does not do much to quell the sudden influx of flight emotions either. The look she gives Ricki is almost predatory, just for a moment, the boys now completely forgotten.

A brief look behind her, and Iczobyth shares another mental flash across the crowd - the blinding light of Rukbat before it sinks beneath the horizon. Letting the bright light linger, she is suddenly turning, darting back the way she came, through the males, nearly colliding with first one, then another as she cuts through them, attempting to hold the advantage, even as the calculating brown is closing distance as well. A mental yelp, and she is shooting away again, angled towards the last bits of daylight, hoping for a bit of help - and not just from her mental illusions.

Ricki, at least, is too caught up with Iczobyth to notice Niko's lack of reaction, fingers curling lightly around the top of the fence, though at least a little bit of Kaylis's words seem to catch, as she is giggling again briefly, until the near miss above has her breath catching, and the green rider looking around, nervous but not really aware.

Firith follows Iczobyth into the sunset, even an imaginary one, venturing further away from show w ith each passing second. In a sudden burst of excitement, the dark dragon bugles across the sea and does a barrel roll. The action serving duel purp[ose, checking where the other males are and turning his flight towards a thermal. He shoots up quickly, which is good, since Iczobyth shoots right through the space he was only a couple of seconds ago. Wings grab air and pushes it away as he propels himself after the sneaky green.

E'vyl starts to seem oblivious to the other riders, even Ricki for the moment as he gazes blankly at a patch of sky. And yes, the brownrider flinched at the near miss above.

Size, speed, and an intimate familiarity with the twists and turns of Iczobyth's maze-like mind help Tsarziath avoid most of the traps she lays for the unwary, easing through her trickery with nary a scratch. One dragon may not be so lucky - although it's not Iczy's illusions but rather the moonstone flash of the blue's claws, accompanied by that deep-throated snarl, that slash to wound. Only a scratch, at best, but enough to warn the intruder away - away from him, who stalks his prey alone, if not away from her, the prey and prize and need. Below, Niko grits his teeth, knuckles whitening as his hands clench together, spine once more stiff with strain and stress as he fights against his dragon's primal need, struggling to keep enough of himself seperate so as not to pounce on the all-too-unsuspecting Ricki.

Oh this one defintiely warrants closer studying. Never has Grellith been more sure of… anything. As she turns he adjusts his calculations, taking note of wind resistance, the close call, everything all with in a few hearbeats. His own course is adjusted to suit, taking him up higher and on a course that should keep him vaguely parallel with the green - for now! As she shoots off there's another minor wing dip, the tiniest fraction of an adjustment, but he stays his course.

Poor Kaylis, she's trying her best to keep up the motherly persona but it's slipping rapidly. She takes one tiny step forwards, fingers twitching at her side in a very obvious mimicry of her lifemates earlier movements.

Only one animal, and that for a green who is never the most graceful in the air. And so, it is no surprise that the males are drawing closer, her energy fading and her attempts to throw them off course fail, and her wing beats slow, and she starts to drop towards the ground, a frantic mental yelp escaping her as she attempts to rebalance, to climb once more, even as the males come closer - a brown shooting upwards on a thermal, the calculations of the other visitor, and the fighting of a familiar blue - all far, far too close for comfort.

Ricki is doing a bit of her own collapsing, as it were, leaning against the fence as she turns to face the other riders, eyes slipping from Kaylis to E'vyl (and his mug), and then, to Niko, where they linger, her lips silently mouthing 'I'm sorry' - even as the flight draws to its conclusion.

Firith tries to regain some lost distance, but not even the thermal assist gives him enough boost to make up the ground lost when Iczobyth goes shooting through the pack. He doesn't give up though, wings straining and he does start to close the distance again.. But he's chased many females across Pern's skies over the turns, and he knows this race is lost with other males between him and the fleeing green.

E'vyl grips his mug a bit tighter as Firith falls for the green's illusions. "Come on." he mutters mostly under his breath, his dragonmate falls to the rear of the pack.

Whether it's the yelp, or simply the proximity of the other males, or just that the time is right - or some combination thereof - Tsarziath abruptly lunges with a frantic hiss, jerking away from the pack and reaching out to foul Iczobyth's wings with his own. Moonstone talons close - gently, for a wonder - upon the green's sea-stained shoulders, halting her forward progress just long enough to roll down and around, neck and tail twining, wings extending to match the angle of her own, drawing them upwards to a safe height. Content now that the hunt has ended in his favor, the beast stalks back beneath his skin, leaving the gentleman to take things from here. Shame Niko's own passion is not so easily tamed, and his hand is rough as it closes around Ricki's wrist, yanking the greenrider towards him. His gaze is a study in contradiction - relief, frustration, and a deep, unexpected sorrow - before he hides his eyes, lowering his head to hers.

Abort! Abort! One slight miscalculation and it's all gone to pot! Firith's sudden rising on that thermal has definitely had an impact, though thankfully not physical, and as Iczobyth is snared by the lucky Tsarziath the whole purpose of the calculations change. Interesting choice. Wrong of course. Should warn of chafing. Instead he angles away from the other dragons, looking for a cold lake to go dump himself in.

Kaylis doesn't let out a slight growl at N'kon. Hope, that wasn't the sound you just heard at all. Nor does she trip over a rock as she stalks off - she totally meant to do that. faranth help the Weyrlingmaster if she runs into them just now,that would be a whooole other meeting.

Iczobyth struggles, perhaps, for just a moment, before realizing that the fight is over, and she relaxes in Tsari's grasp, letting the blue be in control without even a moment of argument - of course, that will probably change later, but for now..

For Ricki, though, there isn't any fight at all, nor even a flick of the eyes towards the brown riders, as her arms wrap around Niko's shoulders as soon as she is caught, meeting his gaze only briefly - far, far too tied to her life mate to make sense of what can be seen there, even briefly.

As Ricki's arms wrap around his shoulders, N'kon releases her wrist, his own arms encircling her waist before he hoists her up, guiding her legs over his hips. "C'mon," he mutters hoarsely, carting her off towards the guest weyr with long, eager strides. Whatever misgivings he may have held during the flight, they're gone by the time the pair disappears in time, swept away in the rush from the two dragons intertwined in the light of the dying sun. Later, folks.

Firith roars his frustration out across the ocean as Iczobyth is snared. With an annoyed snort, the brown flips and turns sharply to glide back to shore and his rider.

E'vyl simply scrubs a hand over his face and through his hair when the chase comes to an end. He doesn't speak to the other, simply giving a brief nod to anyone looking his way and heads off to intercept his dragon.

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