(Mis)adventure in the Forest

Xanadu Weyr - Deep Forest Clearing

Between stepping over tree roots and pushing your way through ambitiously high bushes, you almost stumble into the clearing before you. Some bizarre force of nature has pushed the trees outwards to form a rough circle that is nearly one hundred feet across at its center. Low grass covers its interior, and curious looking bushes appear to have been transplanted from elsewhere, forming an aisle down it's middle. Their blooms are vibrantly colored and each bush has a strong, pungent aroma that suggests something beyond the ordinary about the fauna in this area.

A large patch of earth off to one side is home to a circle of stones, ash in the center, and a sturdy log has been dragged before it, possibly as a makeshift bench. The earth has been freshly turned in several locations, suggesting that something was buried within the last month. All in all, it appears to be a delightful camping spot. It would be almost idyllic, except for the subtle presence of animal tracks found near the circle's edge and around the makeshift fire pit. The tracks have clearly not been made by man or dragon kin making it foolish to wander too far off the beaten path.

The path that runs east-west through the forest can clearly be seen here, though it begins to turn north near the west end of the clearing.

Wintertime probably isn't the best time for a weyrling and her overgrown feline green dragon to be sneaking off into the woods by themselves because tracks are rather difficult to avoid in the snow. But, well, Jessi didn't think of that when she finally gave in to Aisuohkoth's prodding to go out into the forest to hunt real food as the green tends to call it. At least the greenling was smart enough to bundle up against the weather, and bring a weapon with her in the form of a hunting spear. Currently, however, the only one enjoying the hunt is the young green dragon who is stalking after something that her weyrling can't really see. "Aisu, hurry, we're gonna get in trouble." The young woman mutters quietly, and is promptly ignored by the stalking felinesque green who appears to be on the trail of something.

Aisuohkoth senses that Isobeth is a tendril reaching, as blindly and slowly as a growing vine curls upwards towards the sun. Seeking without words towards the young green with the warmth of spring in the magnolia-scented hint of a questioning nudge wondering if everything is okay.

Isobeth senses that Aisuohkoth is quite content, and quite distracted as well even as she lets her soft velvety touch purr through your mind with touches of the same greens and browns and whites as her surroundings contain. « Everything is good! » She says, almost too perky even for her. And soon her mind withdraws a bit as she concentrates on…something.
Aisuohkoth senses that Isobeth's touch follows that withdrawal as a flower will turn with Rukbat's course through the sky, attempting to keep the tenuous contact. There's a brief twitter of songbird in the older dragon's touch, relief that she isn't hurt or upset over anything before the comment is « Afternoon classes have started. Did you forget? »

Isobeth senses that Aisuohkoth's tone is still distant, as if trying to concentrate on two things at once. « Classes? » Yeah, she probably forgot. « Hunting. » She lapses into single word responses, quite distracted by whatever it is that has her attention. A brief flicker of trees manages to leak into her velvety tone, quickly overcome by excitement as she continues with her (non-class) activity.

And indeed half a day's walk back in Xanadu V'dim has called the Weyrlings to order for that dragonhealing class that was bumped from morning to afternoon. Assembled? All but Jessi and her green. The person looking for the pair has already done a quick check of the weyrling grounds, weyrling beach and is partway up the main beach. Something turns his track suddenly towards the feeding pens.

Several minutes pass in silence before another breath of contact returns from Isobeth to Aisuohkoth, « You must be fishing! »

Aisuohkoth finally gets close enough to her choice of prey for the day, her ichor pulsing with excitement which causes Jessi, spear held at the ready, to creep through trees and brush towards where her green has moved off to. Well, the sooner the green gets her kill, the sooner they can go home, right? Wait, weren't the pair supposed to be doing something right now? Ah well, Jessi is too overcome by her dragon's wild instincts to remamber anything. She perches in a tree, silvery eyes focused on the small hoofed animal that Aisuohkoth is closing in on. « Not fish, real food. » Another brief flicker of trees and snow, a flash of some wild thing, and the green's tone fades off as she closes in for the kill.

Aisuohkoth senses that Isobeth is silent perplexity for all of one second. And in that second shares with the younger green a peaceful feeding pen devoid of draconic activity. Not fishing? But the real food is not fleeing and stampeding seems to be the thought shared.

It isn't so much a puzzle to the human stalking the perimeter of those pens, however. Tracks in the snow clearly leading into the forest tell the tale all too well. Tracks which are followed even as Isobeth catches that flicker of trunks and flash of 'real food' fleeing through them. Ut oh!!!

Isobeth senses that Aisuohkoth doesn't seem to being paying too much attention now, even as she sends a triumphant jolt through the minds of the weyr as she finally sees sucess in the activity her and her rider have been doing all day, and even as she sinks her teeth into the hoofed animal's flesh, the rush of excited energy floods from her young mind, flowing over the velvet purr. « Food! Good food! » And it is only after she has claimed what is rightfully hers that she actually sends a visual of her nice forest meal. « Real food. » Yes, none of this domesticated stuff for the feline greenlet.

And there is nothing further from Isobeth, who by now definitely knows what Aisuohkoth is up to. It would be dangerous to distract the young green from her hunt, especially with all those tree trunks and low limbs all around her, so until that purr resounds throughout the Weyr, the older green remains silent. In her balmy spring skies there are stormclouds of concern, « You should not linger there. » Wherever 'there' is. « That bad man is still around and there could be felines. »

And though the walk through the forest to their spot is a half-day's hike out from the Weyr close to three hours will pass before anyone reaches her, not that either of the pair trailing them know exactly how far they’ve gone. By then the young green will likely have finished her feeding and begun her return. If they don't get lost. Or worse.

Isobeth senses that Aisuohkoth considers the warning. « My Jessi does not fear the felines. She is safe in the trees, she is very good at tree walking. » A bit of admiration from the green to her rider. « I have searched her mind, she has been in wild places many times. » Then she seems to consider something a moment. « Bad man? I will eat him if he shows up. » Yeah, something like that. And then she drifts off to enjoy her meal, of course, by the time anyone reaches the pair, the young green will be lazy with fullness. Hopefully the night doesn't creep upon them before they can get back onto the trail. « My Jessi, she can catch meat for the weyr, she has a pointystick. » She sends a brief visual of her rider with a spear up in the trees.

Aisuohkoth senses that Isobeth rumbles with the darkening of those clouds, her contact sultry with muggy, oppressive heat, « Well she should fear them! Felines can climb trees! And you cannot fly yet. Does she not worry about your safety? » There's a mental snort of disbelief for such blithe unconcern and foolish complacency from a woman who supposedly knows the wilds. One pointy stick would do little against a while pride of hungry felines. « You and yours are to return to the Weyr. » There's a pause while Isobeth communicates with her lifemate before the crackle of lightning punctuates the command, « NOW! »

Rukbat is indeed lowering in the sky, soon to drop behind the mountain range, dusk will come before long and back there on the trail heading with as much speed as he can muster is the one who seeks the errant pair with a growing concern over the distance so deeply into the woods the track has taken.

Isobeth senses that Aisuohkoth snorts indignantly. « I am the best hunter in the whole class, I am not afraid of these felines. My Jessi did not want to come, but I changed her mind. She worried the same thing about my safety, but I am fine, and all in one piece and I have had a delicious meal. » She sends a perturbed wrinkle through the velvet of her touch. « And I could fly if I wanted. My wings are strong and ready. » Yeah, at least her weyrling has managed so far to keep her from trying out her wings before it's time anyway, right? A dissident grumble flows forth from the greenlet. « Fine, we will come home, but only because I am full and ready to sleep. » Who's calling the shots currently in this weyrling relationship? Why the green of course!

Of course, Jessi was against this trip in the first place, until her green talked her into it. And perhaps they will head home just that much slower because, well, Jessi knows there will be trouble as soon as she sets foot back in the weyr. Now, hmm, where was that trail again? The greenling moves from tree to tree, her green following beneath her, moving sluggishly.

Aisuohkoth senses that Isobeth is becoming irate. « You are a young and very foolish green. You haven't yet taken your first wingbeats and have not the strength to or stamina to remain in the air long. Do you know what those tree branches would do to your wingsails if you fell from the sky? » Black, BLACK is the contact from Isobeth now, whereas she is usually joyous light and springtime, she is now the terror of a dark endless nightmare – one of never tasting the sky properly or having the joy of hunting wild things. Ever! Do not argue with her!!! Seems to be the pressure of threat, pushing back her own fear for the ignorant pair. Contact remains - enough to ensure the pair are walking and unhurt - but without the desire to talk further because she is ANGRY.

It is dusk when the one tracking the pair finds them. Cold bites deeper and full dark is not far away. Rounding the corner past a deadfall on the rough trail into the little clearing is none other than V'dim, behind him two burly and heavily armed guards. He doesn't speak as he approaches the pair, just looks right through Jessi with a piercing stare that could melt ice.

Jessi rounds a corner to where she thinks the trail is, hopping down from the tree branches only to come nearly face to face with, uh-oh, a weyrlingmaster and his guards. Okay, well, she wasn't qute ready to meet up with any other human beings just yet, so she stops abruptly in hertrek, Aisuohkoth nearly running into her rider in the process. Aisuohkoth had fallen silent, mostly because she discovered she doesn't like the black forboding Isobeth very well, she much prefers the bright spring warmth Isobeth. The weyrling pair make a bit of a squeak, Jessi nearly dropping her spear as she avoids running over, or rather into, either of the three not happy people. Well, so much for slipping back into the weyr undetected, huh? Silver blue eyes regard each person briefly before eyes are lowered and she bites her lip. "We were.. just on our way home." She speaks, voice wavering, though she tries to keep it as strong as she can.

V'dim's arms are by now, of course, crossed as he gives Jessi that continued stare of disapproval. For their part, the guards move a distance away, one towards the rear, the other flanking the clearing. Both are keeping an alert watch through the trees on the backtrail the weyrling pair had taken as well as all around them. When the Weyrlingmaster speaks, he's deceptively mild. "I'm sure you were." His face is inscrutable as he next focuses his attention on Aisuohkoth. Walking towards her, he notes her full belly, reaching a hand after a brief compelling glance at Jessi to warn the green. That's all the permission the elder man seeks before he's inspecting her abdomen for the signs of colic - hard bloating and the rumble of gas, hands gentle and unhurried though there is little light left to see with. The green's wingjoints are studied, looking for bruises, nicks and scrapes and then finally her paws. "Have her extend her talons please," he says in a cool, clipped tone. "The trail is rocky out here so we should be sure there are no chips or splits in her claws." Darkness looms and yet he doesn't hasten them down that trail. Hmmm.

Jessi swallows, casting a glance back towards her green as the weyrlingmaster approaches the dragon. The young woman starts to say something, but perhaps she decides better of it and lets her mouth close again. Aisuohkoth, other than being quite full and happy about finally catching some real food, seems rather willing to let the man examine her, maybe when he discovers she's perfectly fine, aside from perhaps a few minor scratches and talon chips which could very well have already been upon her hide with the way she's always wrestling about with her clutchmates, he won't be mad at her and her rider. She does as requested with no real complaint. "She's fine, Sir." Jessi finally dares to find her voice, though those few words are the only ones that make it out of her lips.

Mid-way through his examination the claim that Aisuohkoth is fine draws a brief glance from the Weyrlingmaster but no comment. His face remains expressionless. Only his eyes show any emotion whatsoever and it is not a very reassuring one. Finally, as he steps back and turns to the someday rider. "She is not fit to continue the return journey. She is full and the walk is long. Neither can she spend the night here." As he talks, two of the Weyr's largest bronzes glide over the clearing in the deepening dusk. A large cargo net is dropped, the bronzes gliding overhead in a circle retain hold of the lines. "Help me spread this out and when it is ready, you will have her curl up on the center." Well, things could be worse. It could be Seryth and Sahazyth or Yumeth up there. So the Weyrwoman isn't likely to be involved but it's quite possible that the Weyrleader knows and is the one who authorized the bronzes!

Jessi hides a wince at the mention of her green not being able to continue, but she bites it back. "We didn't mean to stay out here this long. But.." Whatever the butt, perhaps it's better left unsaid as the greenling moves obediently to assist with the straightening of net, looking anywhere but at the weyrlingmaster, oh she knows she's in trouble, and her imagination is likely running wild with thoughts of what punishment she may recieve. Aisuohkoth tucks her wings to her back, sheathing her talons after a moment as she croons up at the big shiny handsome bronzes with the net. The green? Yeah, she's still just as happy as ever despite her lifemate's mindstorm.

For Aisuohkoth what's coming next may be quite a treat. For Jessi it might be a touch humiliating. Not that V'dim is doing it for that purpose, no. His main concern is the dragonpair's safety. As for punishment, he's keeping mum on that for now. He's had many a turn dealing with errant Weyrlings and making them squirm with the anticipation of having the boom lowered so-to-speak, is all a part of it. He'll be waiting until they're back at the Weyr to spell it out for her. When the net is ready, he gestures the green into the center, his gravelly voice instructing her to, "Have her tuck her wings and tail tight to her body and tell her the net will cradle her safely as the bronzes lift her into the skies."

Isobeth also sends a reassurance, and this time - uh oh! - she is augmented by Seryth and whatever other queen is present and awake back at the Weyr. They will keep her from panicking with a net far stronger than the thick rope one that will hold the young green.

"We'll ride with her," V'dim tells Jessi, hunkering down by the right shoulder while the net is still outspread. His gnarled hand waves her to take the opposite spot and when all is settled, gives the fist-pump signal for them to lift.

Jessi has perhaps seen this being done before, but it's quite different when it's you and your dragon going through it, Jessi frowns a bit, though she immediately wipes that frown off of her face as she is instructed on what to do. As Aisuohkoth easily obeys her rider, now that she's fed and full, the green settles comfortably upon the net. Jessi, though, yeah she's not as certain as her green. "Wait, what?" She has to ride in the net too? Up in the air hundreds of feet above the forest without a warm dragonbody under her? Yeah, don't worry about the dragon panicking, it's likely the rider that may well be the one who panics.

V'dim is here with Jessi to help keep her from panicking. "Keep your hands inside the net, feel her mind tell her everything is fine,"he instructs calmly. As the bronzes lift, they are slow and smooth, lifting only as far as it takes to clear the trees. Into the twilight they ascend, the purpling sky above sprinkled with faint stars. Thankfully two lines keep the net steady so there is no spinning and the bronzes sing to the pretty little greenbaby about flying among the clouds with them someday, their bass and tenor rumblings forming a harmony that is actually rather pleasant when combined with the soft creaking of the rope cargo net. Below then the skeletal trees reach futilely, but fail to snag the net as they skim downslope towards the Weyr. Above them is the snap and whoosh of four great wingsails beating the thin icy air. V'dim watches both Weyrling and dragon, soothing if and when necessary with his aged rumble of a voice, words difficult to discern as their forward motion creates a current that snatches them away as they pass his wrinkled lips.

Jessi will just..squeeze her eyes tight and try not to think about how she's skimming just above the treetops in a great big cargo net. At least Aisuohkoth seems to be enjoying the ride, her rider settling her face right up against the green's side, the thoughts of latrine duty and mucking duty and everything in between continue to mishmash in her mind even still. She doesn't even attempt to speak, she's learned from riding adragonback that it's nearly impossible. Aisuohkoth croons softly, who's comforting whom? It's difficult to tell. At least the felinesque green is behaving herself, which is quite unusual for this particular greenlet. Of course, it helps that she's busy watching the scenery beneath her and enjoying being up in the sky, even if she's not the one flying.

It's only a matter of several minutes of straight flight before they are gently touching down in the Weyrling grounds and the pair released from that net. The bronzes lift off reluctantly, leaving the cute little greenbaby behind, their crooning farewells eddying behind them in the still night air. As for V'dim all he says to Jessi is, "Get her settled on her couch. I'll have the Dragonhealers in shortly. I'll be in my office." Clearly he expects her to report to him, but first she still has a missed lesson to make up! What better way to learn than firsthand as they treat whatever scrapes, abrasions and claw nicks on Aisuohkoth? Later, much later as she actually gets the full dragonhealing lecture that the others got, he'll hand her a slip of paper to sign - orders that she will comply with. On it the instructions read: “Aisuohkoth will return to hand feeding for one month. No hunting. Period. Both are to remain within the weyrling grounds and weyrling beach for two weeks. Re-evaluation will be given before advancement will be considered.” The AWLMs will be sure to be practicing Jessi’s assertion skills with Aisuohkoth also. And V'dim? V'dim will be waaaatching you both. With an eagle-eye!

Jessi is rather relieved when they touch down, Aisuohkoth warbles in a hyper little high pitched tone to the pretty shiny handsome bronzes that brought her home. Jessi? Yeah, she keeps her head down all through the instructions with the occasional "Yessir." In response where necessary. As soon as the weyrlingmaster is finished giving directions, though, she's urging her green off to the barracks, where she'll hide for awhile before sticking her nose out of her little corner of the barracks again. She told Aisuohkoth they'd get in trouble, but noooo, the green wouldn't listen.

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