Weyrling Lesson - Manned Flight

Xanadu Weyr – Beach


The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

Normally first Flights are done on those fine, clear days where Rukbat shines from a cloudless sky, but today has come and there is no time to wait. A raw wind breeze blows off the lake, sweeping up the beach, churning the grey waters of the lake into sullen waves. V'dim has called those Weyrlings who haven't flown to the Main Beach for a full inspection, which means dress leathers, flying gear as well as spotless dragons properly buckled into riding straps. The Weyrling Master paces the beach as he waits for them to assemble and form ranks.

Mikalath could hardly be more excited. Not only does the young brown finally have the opportunity to fly with his lifemate, but he finally has a nice public place to show off his wonderfully fashionable straps! They're a mishmash of wild, bright colors, each strap containing a different pattern from solid colors to stripes to dots. R-zel also seems excited, though perhaps just a little nervous about the exercise to come. While oddly colored, their flying gear has certainly been painstakingly worked on to meet the requirements of inspection. The pair line up and wait for the weyrlingmaster.

Ontali might not be the most enthusiastic about some duties she gets to do — but one thing she excels at is keeping Cidheoth in good shape. The little blue has been carrying the borderline high amount of weight he can, given long baths with entirely too much time spent oiling and attempting to sooth tired muscles of both draconic and human sorts with numbweed-laced salves. He, in turn, flies too much and gets them into more trouble than should be required, but what can you do? Today, however, the pair appear…quite well-turned-out. Tali marches alongside her lifemate down the beach, ignoring the raw wind and smiling faintly. They're both dressed primly: Cid's straps are well-kept and not on backwards, and Tali's formal clothes aren't wrinkled. Her hair is back in a well-contained bun and she's not even forgotten her helmet! The dragon seems to almost shiver with anticipation, crouching near Mikalath and eyeing the others with fast-whirring eyes, shifting from one foot to the other. Tali stands serenely next to the blue, grinning over at R'zel before turning her attention to the Weyrlingmaster.

V'dim has Isobeth off to one side all harnessed and waiting. She's demurely and patiently waiting, happy regardless of the less than optimal weather. V'dim eyes the Weyrlings gathered walking the line, stopping to eye each Weyrling from head to toe, looking for spot, smudges or wrinkles. Their lifemates are next and he's checking the straps, tugging here, rattling buckles there before stepping back and addressing the group sternly, "Today you will fly with your dragons. Afterwards, you will all have your hair cut to within a few inches of your scalp." He eyes Ontali as he says this, his whip idly points to helmets they've got dangling. "Want those to fit well." He pauses, then says, "Check your straps and mount up!"

R'zel smirks a little at the mandated hair cut rule, running his hand over his head. His hair is already cut shorter than the requirement, sparing him the pain. Tali, however, gets a sympathetic smile from him. He follows the instructions and conducts a thorough last check of Mikalath's straps, tugging on them at every critical joint before he climbs up onto the brown's back, extra careful not to put too much weight on his lifemate. He straps himself in and puts on his helmet, growing even more nervous.

Ontali smiles vaguely at Cidheoth at something or other, then focuses on the Weyrlingmaster, arms clasped behind her back easily but posture pretty much proper. The inspection is weathered calmly, but the declaration of first flight and then of haircuts gets a mixted reaction. She can't stop the expression of joy that flickers quickly, just as she can't stop the frown of consternation that follows just as quickly. "Yes, sir." Is all she says, though, though her tone is much less easy and more clipped than usual. "Understood, sir." The helmet is carefully put on and secured, then a rueful grin offered to R'zel for his sympathy. He gets a discreet thumbs up, before she's carefully scrambling around her dragon, checking over the straps — not that she doesn't have faith in dear Cidheoth! He shifts with growing impatience as she mounts, then buckles herself into the straps, unable to repress a bright grin now.

V'dim gives his standard canned speech. Likley well-rehearsed from many Turns of repeating it, "Flying is wonderful, flying is fun. But it can get you killed, so pay attention." He stands in his own imposing way, face as stern as he can make it. "You'll do exactly as I do today and in the following days a little more each day. Do not leave the Weyr's airspace until you have been cleared to do so. Do not carry passengers until cleared to do so." There's a significant pause as again his eyes sweep the faces before him, his eyes resting on Ontali for a long moment. "Absolutely no trying to *Between*." He pauses, "Alright. Buckle in, if you haven't yet." He walks the ranks once more as the Weyrlings do so, eyeing their straps and their buckling in, determining that all is as it should be before he turns to mount Isobeth.

R'zel smiles when he catches the thumbs up gesture from Tali, returning it before the Weyrlingmaster launches into his speech. Mikalath and R'zel both listen attentively to the lecture, nervousness returning to R'zel's features at the warnings. He steels himself, ready to devote all of his focus to the upcoming flight. The brown stretches his wings and flaps them a bit, clearly a little impatient.

"Yessir. Yessir." Tali repeats in a quiet litany, glancing around at the others flying with them from time to time. Otherwise, she sits quietly astride her dragon, who's now moved off several strides away from the others and is fanning his wings as well. "No, sir!" This, vehemently, from Tali on the subject of betweening early. The girl checks her buckles as Cidheoth pauses his fanning, eyes whirring a vibrant maelstrom of excited greens. "Behave, Cid. Good luck!" The last is called quietly to the others, but a grin is offered for R'zel as she leans back, face suddenly switching from cheerful to tight, excited. Hey wait! She's about to fly!

From the green's back, V’dim calls, "You'll do exactly what I do one at a time." The green launches, flaps her wings until she is but a dragonslength above the sand, fighting the stiff winds just a bit as she flap-glides to the far end of the beach. She's light, and would normally need only an occasional flap to keep her course and altitude. But today, she needs to keep her balance against the push of the onshore winds. She is practiced, though and her flight is straight and sure. As she reaches the far end she lightly touches down, then turns so V'dim can clearly see the Weyrlings.

R'zel and Mikalath both closely watch the flight of the green, their heads turning to follow her movement through the sky. They've both seen this many times before, but today they manage to pay extra close attention. It could be a matter of life and death, after all. R'zel manages to look terribly excited and scared to death all at once. Finally, the big moment comes: takeoff! With an enthusiastic trumpet and a mighty beat of his wings, Mikalath takes to the sky. R'zel holds on for dear life, but when the fear passes he finds it quite exhilirating. By the time it comes to land, the flight seemed almost too short, and the rider is laughing. "Whew!"

Cid waits, but as soon as Mikalath has landed, the blue is in the air. His prowess is not as great as his larger classmates' might be, but the little blue manages not to fall on his face. He knifes through the wind and doesn't side-slip too much, obviously keeping an inner monologue with Tali, who laughs gleefully the entire way. When they land, after entirely too short a time, the girl is flushed and looks entirely too pleased with them, flashing a broad grin at the others. "That was fun! Can we go again, sir?"

V'dim nods his solemn approval after each short flight. He has more lecture to speech at them, "Over the next two sevendays I'll want their muscles hardened. You're to avoid heights, but may fly just above treetop level." His arm sweeps out towards the menacing-looking lake, "Let's do some real flying now, but we'll keep it low and in the formations we've practiced on the ground." Isobeth launches, her green wings sweep to carry her up and out over the water, her happy trill a clarion call to the young dragons to follow. This time she moves with a swift forward movement, her wings working hard now as she's fighting the headwind. The young dragons will really be stretching their wings before this exercise is finished.

Mikalath can barely contain his pride, flapping his wings excitedly and bobbing his head in promise at the command to exercise more. R'zel laughs and gives his lifemate an affection scratch on the head before the next takeoff, zooming up into the air to follow in the formation which was set out earlier. There's just a little wobble as the brown still isn't used to riding as a team, but they soar into position shortly enough.

Ontali considers the Weyrlingmaster's words cheerfully, expression still a little bit wondering. "Yessir!" The girl calls happily, expression growing even more delighted with the next proclamation. Cidheoth gets a shoulder-slap that might be a little bit more than affectionate (warning?), as he prepares to fly again. Finally! He's free to show his rider what he's made of, and boy does he try! While Tali clings for dear life, the blue slip-slides but keeps up valiantly with the others, his in-formation skills quite nice — but for the occasional sideslip that he can't yet help/

The winds are stronger here out over the open waters, sweeping up strongly under them and buoying them but also slowing their forward progress as they are flying straight into it. The lake does not shimmer today, rather it remains a leaded dismal grey just a dragon's length below them, the waves lurch, foaming whitely. Isobeth pushes on ahead, straight as an arrow, warbling her joy to those behind - the weather isn't bothering her one bit! The surface of the lake is broken suddenly by a pod of shipfish - perhaps they were expecting this Weyrling group today. At any rate, they only manage to keep pace for several wingbeats, leaping and squeeing their greetings, not one bit daunted by the rough waves and grey skies.

"I wish I could draw from up here…" R'zel remarks, his words lost in the rush of wind which accompanies flight. He marvels at the sights in the lake below for a moment before his attention is snapped back by a slight wobble from his lifemate. With renewed focus, both dragon and rider try to stay in perfect formation with the rest of the group, beating wings as regularly as they can manage.

"Dolphins!" Ontali can be heard calling to Cidheoth, some memory or other sparking a triumphant bugle from the blue. With supreme self-control, the cobalt dragon keeps himself from swooping lower or slowing to observe the squeeing creatures, while Tali keeps her eyes on the sky, expression nothing short of entranced. The rough waves below aren't really noted; a rough sea is a good sea for fishing, but otherwise it's something the girl is quite used to! As he warms his wings to the practice of flying, now with less weight than usual, Cidheoth steadies nearest in formation to Mikalath, and Tali grins over at the other Weyrling, eyes flicking up to the happy Isobeth in front. Cidheoth answers the green with a gleeful trill, striving valiantly to be perfect for his lifemate.

Isobeth now beats upwards, gaining altitude. The wind helps as it sweeps up under her wings. On her back, V'dim, turns to watch the Weyrlings, making sure they follow her up high. It is really only several dragon's lengths this time, but it is higher than they've flown yet. The green tilts slowly on one wingtip in a gentle, curving bank to head them back towards the beach, the turn a little rough as the wings buffet the smaller dragon. V'dim continues to keep his eye back there the entire time noting how each dragon handles itself and how the turn is executed. The shipfish are left behind, but they seem to know the dragons will be back, so they turn and race for shore along the path the Weyrlings will follow, clicking and chirping, just as they did yesterday. Apparently it's a game they've repeated many times.

Mikalath seems almost a little disappointed when it is time to return, but the wobble in his flight and the early signs of fatigue in his wings suggests he could soon use the rest. The brown manages the turn without too much drifting, maintaining the formation with the aid of the wind from the dragons ahead of him. R'zel holds on tight, eyes kept straight ahead as they prepare for landing.

Ontali may or may not see the Weyrlingmaster watching them, but she keeps herself situated properly all the same. It almost seems natural, to move with the dragon, to shift with every muscle's twitch — and perhaps it is. The bond between dragon and rider could very well be enough for even Tali to understand that moving with is better than against! The rise, then turn, is executed with little grace but much in the way of dogged enthusiasm, quick and efficient. Those shipfish are still watched by Cidheoth on glide-beats, but Tali is entirely focused on the task at hand, trying not to make a mess-up; while riding a runner might be much tamer, at least she has some idea of what do do! The little blue fights on with enthusiasm, not showing (certainly it's there, but whether or not he even notices is another question) any exhuasion, just a gleeful sense of adventure. New things! Finally!

Isobeth finishes her turn, folds her wings just enough to drop in a dizzying swoop back down towards the churning water before leveling out once more. With the wind now at their backs, the trip towards shore is much faster than the outbound trip. It is pushing them towards the shore rapidly. The shipfish are easily overtaken, passed by in a flash as the disappointed, but good-natured squeals fade behind them. The beach seems to be rushing towards them, the stormy waters almost a blur. Isobeth flares her wings just offshore to slow her pace, drops lightly to the sands in a running stride that also makes way for the ones behind her to land. V'dim is once again turning to watch, careful eyes judge the landings as well as the condition of the newly flown pairs.
Mikalath may not specialize in graceful landings, but he makes an extra effort not to kick up too much sand this time. After all, it wouldn't do to get the beach all over his rider on their first flight out. He backwings as he dips down to the ground, running along the shore for a little while as he loses his momentum. When he comes to a stop he croons, proud and happy." R'zel laughs, relieved, and pats the brown on the head. "Very nice job, Mikalath!"

A wind behind him, Cidheoth almost breaks out of line, but modifies his wingbeats instead, showing restraint and not letting it take him where he wants it to — up, up, up! Instead he goes down, down, down, taking a different method than most of them. Roughly a dragonlength up (and several down from the others, for politeness' sake!), the blue just…closes his wings. He lands with a springy /thud/, but is up in an instant, hissing a low, smug chuff at the others. Tali unbuckles herself quickly and slides down, grinning from ear to ear as she starts combing over the dragon herself, prodding places where he usually manages to hurt himself. It's a force of habit by now, even if it's not REALLY all that justified!

V'dim seems satisfied for he doesn't lash into anyone or berate them after all have landed. He doesn't lavish anyone with praise, either, but that is V'dim. In a voice intended to carry he says, "Remember, a little more each day. Might need to rub the wing muscles with oil and numbweed tonight." His eyes are on the larger dragons as he says that. He touches his helmet with the tip of his riding crop as Isobeth springs up, flaps a few times and circles towards their Weyr.

Mikalath doesn't need praise to feel proud. The brown does a perfectly good job of congratulating himself without assistance. He flaps his wings tiredly, but in triumph. R'zel chuckles a bit, pats his lifemate once more, then unbuckles himself and hops off, careful not to hurt his already sore dragon. "Nice job." He calls out to his fellow weyrlings, Tali included.

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