Of Tunnelsnakes and Flute-carving

Xanadu Weyr - Forest
The trees grow thickly here, avians nesting in their branches and flitting about after insects. Flowers sprout up and speckle the ground between, the green of small plants and their blooms of bright saffron and cheeky rose that creep all the way up to the bases of the trees and adorn the fallen leaves and mulch of the forest floor. Those trees rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade, the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.
A path winds its leisurely way through the trees, wide enough for wagons to pass. As it goes through into the forest, a number of other trails branch away, both more and less traveled. Many of them lead to private weyrs, but there's a few more trodden paths - notable among them a road to the feeding grounds, set against the western slopes.
The forest grows wilder the further north one goes, deep growth and ancient places, and the road does not extend far in that direction, instead turning toward the meadow. Just before it emerges, a trail veers off to the Firelizard Theatre.

Spring has finally come, but even as the days get steadily warmer there is still a faint chill to the air. It is a drowsy looking morning with the sky in overcast. However, a slight movement in the clouds hints that there may yet be sun. All in all it seems like a good day to stay inside and take it easy. However, that hasn't stopped everyone. A little ways into the forest the apprentice harper known as Zalulia sits on a tree stump. It seems that she has forgone wearing a jacket, although the long sleeved shirt she is wearing could likely work just as well. However, that probably isn't the most noticeable thing about the situation. In one hand she holds a thick chunk of wood, in the other a knife. Is she getting inventive, perchance? Hopefully it won't end in another disaster like the kitchens if she is.

"Come back! I'mmmm gonna — oof!" Hopefully, Zalulia doesn't startle too easily. Sure, Azchel is a full dragonlength off in the trees, a tangle of wool and giggling, but the bolt of legs and elbows that flies by is a little closer. "Coward! I know where you sleep!" The tiny 'brat laughs wildly, eventually managing to untangle herself from a bright purple scarf that is at least twice as long as anybody under five feet tall needs. A green firelizard twitters anxiously about the girl's head; are those ix-nay noises? It's entirely possible, since Chel abruptly shuts up and stares at the girl with the knife and…hitting-stick? "Uh." Brown eyes narrow, but, scarf trailing, Azchel trails closer curiously. "Whatcha doin'?" Pretty churrs, exasperated. Of *course*. Of course she moves closer.

From the opposite direction of the weyr comes Xanadu's junior weyrwoman. She, too, is holding a knife, but for her, it's for a very different reason than whittling. The thing is bloodied, and so is her shoulder, as well as the sack slung over her shoulder. That's… ominous. Tired and really quite scratched up, the woman almost looks as though she's going to pass the Harper and weyrbrat by, but a last-minute glance catches on the wood in Zalulia's hands and, well, she can't resist curiosity. "'Morning, ladies." She doesn't repeat Azchel's question, but both eyebrows raise as she plods closer to investigate. "We're keepin' out of trouble, right?," the pot asks two of her favorite kettles.

Suddenly noise! Zalulia startles as the sound of a rampaging weyrbrat breaks her focus on the chunk of wood, knife flailing about dangerously. When she sees that it really is just a weyrbrat and firelizard, not some horrendous beast she'd havre to try to slay, she lets out a small breath of relief. "Whittling!" she chirps. She waves her knife and chunk of wood around in front of her for emphasis. "I think I have the theory down, now it's just a matter of putting it into practice." Meaning she has no idea what she's doing. But hey, it's no fun doing something if you already know how it'll turn out, right? As long as she doesn't accidentally hack off a finger or two she should be good. Before she can actually take knife to wood, however, Esiae comes wandering out of the forest, looking like she really has slain something. "Yep," is her simple answer. Does she still remember the meatroll fiasco? It'd be swell if she's somehow forgotten that, or at least doesn't use it as a basis to judge her ability to try other new things on. "How 'bout you? Back from some early morning murder?" Despite her words her general body language and tone of voice says she is totally unphased by the bloody sack. Whelp.

Azchel is still young, and at least a little sheltered, and — well — Esiae is bloody. "ESI." Chel yelps, eyes wide and horrified; no doubt, visions of a tragic demise or something equally terrible darting through her little head for a moment before her brain catches up. Hands, too; she abruptly quits patting at the poor rider's side, as high as she can reach looking for injuries, but stares instead. "What?" Blink. Pretty is sorry, really, even if Azchel isn't, though. The green churrs mournfully at Zalulia, alighting on a nearby branch and flicking her wings delicately. Chel is a little bit distracted by the knife — she squints sideways at it curiously, head canting canine-like to the side. "Whittlin'." The girl repeats slowly, nodding eventually. "S'neat. Whatcha gonna make?" She doesn't move away from the rider, though, watching the bloody woman out of the corner of her eyes.

Esiae nods for Zalulia's logic, shifting her heavy bag and wincing as she lowers it to the ground. "Makes sense. Just don't cut off anything that shouldn't be cut," she says, her own mind clearly lingering on the loss of fingers as well. "And keep it away from fire. Flammable, wood." Nope, she hasn't forgotten. Poor Harper's never gonna live that one down. "What're you— eep!" Before she can ask what Zal is whittling, she has a face full of Azchel. Arm holding the knife going out wide to keep from accidentally stabbing the girl, Esi chuckles and carefully keeps her injured shoulder out of the way of those patting hands. "I'm fine, don't worry. Sony and I chased down a tunnelsnake that was terrorizing the herdbeasts this morning. It got my shoulder, but Sony got it's spine," she says, grimly pleased under the pain. Well, at least that explains what's in the sack. "She could probably use a hand cleaning off at the beach, if you don't mind helpin' her. I'm afraid I won't be doing much with this arm today," is said to Chel, shooing the girl off in the hopes that a task will keep her from worrying until the junior can get cleaned up. She lingers, though, since Zalulia doesn't seem bothered. "So. Self-teaching, or is someone showing you the ropes?," is further asked of the whittling.

Whereas Zalulia is unphased by the blood it seems that poor Azchel is a bit panicked. She winces at the weyrbrat's loud and horrified exclamation but otherwise doesn't get involved. Aside from that bloody shoulder Esiae looks okay. It doesn't even seem like the shoulder is bothering her either. Besides, this isn't the sort of thing for her to meddle with. There'd be nothing for her to do even if she did decide to meddle! So she waits for Chel to calm down and Esiae to give her explanation before sending the girl off to speak. "Oh, I know plenty about the flammability at wood." The statement makes her wince some. A horrible wood-related incident in the past or the Junior's teasing about the flaming cookery? The world may never know. Either way it bounches off her like water off a duck. With a devious grin she remarks, "maybe you should have taken me with you. Probably could've set that tunnelsnake ablaze. There are also ways to use fire for healing, you know." Granted, she doesn't actually know how to use them, just how they exist and how they may work in theory. With a light chuckle she carries on, "and self-teaching. The topic was brought up the other night and I got curious." As she speaks she lowers the knife to the wood and begins to drag it down, creating a sloppy spray of splinters.

"I'm sure you do," Esiae murmurs, teasing entering her tone, now that her burden's on the ground. Brown eyes lighten a bit with mischief at the idea of setting the tunnelsnake on fire, perhaps a little too keen on the idea. "Should have, it probably would've saved me quite a bit of trouble if you'd just lit it on fire from the get-go. As it is, it ain't too late if you want a go at it," she jests. She definitely winces for the idea of using fire for healing though, head shaking to and fro. "Call me old-fashioned, but I'll just stick to stitches, thanks." Hopefully she wouldn't even need those, but regardless, fire is off the menu! Esi looks interested in the whittling talk, though, watching as the knife carves into the block of wood. "Oh? Who do you know that whittles?," she asks, making assumptions that suggestion meant experience.

Zalulia sniffs before haughtily saying, "what can I say? I have a gift." The gift of setting things ablaze. Well, she actually has the gift of SCIENCE, but she also tends to find plenty of flammable things. At the mention of it not being too late she suggests, "we could creamate it. Or try to cook it, assuming it's edible. If they aren't edible, are they venomous. If they are we could harvest the venom! There are probably a whole lotta uses for that." Hopefully she isn't going to try turning venom harvesting into her new hobby. Maybe that's why she isn't a journeyman by now? Too focused trying various other things to really focus on her harpering. At least she can sing. An entire tavern learned that around the same time she came up with the idea of whittling. Continuing on at a mile a minute she says, "using fire is supposed to be a lot more clean than stitches. It also hurts a lot more though; I've heard that people go unconscious. Sometimes." She frowns and pauses. "Maybe it's just for dire situations?" If that's the case it may be best if they never find out. All this talk of fire was said rapidly. Esiae's whittling question, however, makes her fall silent for a moment. "Eheh, no one. When I said I was a harper who could sing and play flute someone thought I meant I could make flutes. I can't, but I did stop and think, hey, whittling, I can probably do that." As she talks she slides the knife down the wood enough, the blade cutting dangerously close to her thumb this time.

Esiae has to laugh for the myriad uses for the tunnelsnake that Zalulia provides, head nodding or shaking as appropriate with her responses. "I'm definitely all for cremation - or at least, burning it to be rid of the body. There are some species that are edible - I'm pretty sure some of the more eclectic trader caravans sell strips of 'snake at gathers - but I don't know which species are the edible ones. Only thing I am sure of, is this isn't a venemous one," she says, "or I wouldn't've gone after it." Fingers flick to her shoulder, pointing to the bite as evidenced. "Still, I'm sure harvesting one of the venemous ones would be interesting, though I'd hate to know what it'd be used for." Besides researching anti-venom, perhaps. At the very least, Esi is a sympathetic soul, equally interested in just about anything that doesn't have to do with her craft. Well, mostly. "Well, my situation ain't dire, but I'll keep it in mind. As for flute-carving, that I can do, if you ever wanna learn proper." There's a wince as the blade passes too close to that thumb for comfort, but apparently she trusts the younger Harper enough not to say anything. "Learning the general practice on your own is a good start, though."

Zalulia raises an eyebrow as what is clearly a very important question passes through her mind. "If it isn't venonmous wouldn't that make it edible by default?" Because knowing that eating something won't kill you is as good as getting the official signal to go ahead. Of course, if anyone is going to cook it it probably shouldn't be Zalulia. Without looking away from her carving she continues, "venom can have a lot of interesting chemical reactions. There are also medical uses, I think, but I'm not really as interested in those." This time she does look away from the wood, grinning at Esiae as she adds, "it could probably also be used for more dangerous things. Of course, that would be illegal, and also wrong." It's said in a joking tone, as if to clarify that she definitely isn't an assassin or something of the like. Because Zalulia being some sort of secret operative is definitely at the top of everyone's list of worries. The joking air evaporates in favor of genuine excitement at the notion of the junior teaching her how to make an actual flute. "It would be great if you could, thank you! Right now I'm just trying to make… well,I guess I'm just trying to make a smaller stick, really."

Esiae's mouth opens and her brow crumples, clearly unsure. "I guess so? I don't know much about it, except that the venomous ones have certain markings that you have to avoid. I think traders have a mnemonic device they use to remember what kinds are edible and dangerous, but I've since forgotten it," she says with a sort of determined air, as though she will go find it again, now that she realizes she's forgotten. As for the venom, "Chemical reactions?" Uh oh. Magic, words, those. "What kind of chemical reactions?" Brown eyes sparkle with amusement as she likely pictures things going up in flames, or dissolving through metal. Sigh. There's an appraising glance for the more questionable use of 'snake venom, but Esiae likely arrives at the same conclusion: if Zalulia is gonna kill someone, she'll assume it probably won't be on purpose. "Absolutely," Esi replies, recovering smoothly when talk shifts to flute-making. "When you can whittle a bigger stick into a smaller stick as big around as two fingers without losing a digit, let me know," she drawls, amused by the other Harper's turn of phrase. "For now, though, I'd better get back to the herders and reassure them their livestock is safe. I'll have a beach bonfire tonight if you wanna help me set it aflame." Wincing, she hefts her back back onto her shoulder. "Until next time." With a wave, the goldrider takes her leave and resumes her earlier path towards the weyr proper.

"All sorts!" Zalulia trills. "Sometimes they just fizzle, but there are also flammable solutions, acids, horrible gasses, the list is nearly endless!" Alright, not nearly endless, but it's very exciting and almost always dangerous. The way her face lights up with excitement when she talks about it could mean that great scientific advancements are going to be made or the entire Weyr should worry. Most likely both. It seems that Esiae has to go now, so rambling on about science will have to wait for now. Her instructions for the whittling and invitation get a grin and chirp of, "will do!" With that she turns back to her whittling. She dutifully works at it, slowly improving as time passes and morning begins to give way to afternoon.

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