Of Toban, Sweet Spots and Music

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow Ridge

The meadow continues its gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes. Each hill seems to grow a bit higher, a bit steeper, as eventually, the meadow works up to a large ridge, the top flattening out at its new elevation.

From the top of the ridge, the view is certainly something to be admired - higher than the majority of the trees, one can look out over the rest of Xanadu Weyr proper. The houses in the lower meadow - each roof a different color - and the clock tower peeking upwards from the its forest surroundings are all visible, as is the cliff that houses the Weyr Caverns themselves. And yet, the ridge also holds an amazing view of the night sky - horizon to horizon - unaffected by the light pollution of the more heavily traveled regions.

Settled upon the ridge is a rather distinctive looking building - nearing three stories tall, circular grey walls have carefully been erected, and a large dome is settled upon this solid foundation. Large panels make up the roof, aside from one section which remains open, and from which the telescope the struction houses peeks out. Sitting adjacent to the tower is a long, low building, meant to serve as offices, record rooms and dorms for those who man the observatory, as well as providing a handy platform for those who seek to use smaller, hand-held 'scopes.

The current time for zone 0 is: 2685.10.13 06:05:44

Dels and Amelia talk a bit about Toban and his habits and how Niva handled him among other things.

It's a nice spring morning and D'son and Inimeth are sprawled out up on the ridge, the dragon looking out at the view, the rider on his stomach, drawing again, this time though it's an inanimate thing on the page: the observatory.

The morning finds Amelia at the bottom of the ridge, though instead of leading a runner, this time the apprentice is riding one. A stocky dark bay of draft lineage, the runner ambles along the edge of the ridge, keeping a watchful eye on the dragon once its been noticed. The rider isn't yet close enough to recognize D'son, but she does peer at them curiously, hand half-raised like she can't decide whether or not to wave.

Inimeth's gaze finds the runner and his nostrils flare a bit, then he tucks his head down, like he's been warned not to look threatening. Dels turns, weight shifting onto one elbow as the bronze lets him know someone's coming on a runner and he lifts a hand to wave very energetically in return, smile appearing on his face. "Heya!" he calls over.

Amelia raises her had the rest of the way, smile brightening her face. "Good morning to you!" She turns the bay towards the ridge and encourages him to move up the ridge. He goes willingly enough, picking his way carefully towards the dragon. "Don't worry about startling him; he's as solid as they come. Well, mostly. And how are you this morning?"

Pushing up off of his elbows, D'son sits properly and draws his sketchbook into his lap. "Oh, okay, that's good. Wish we could get him to understand that Inimeth won't eat him," the rider says with a laugh, gets to his feet so that he's not craning his neck so much. "Pretty good, I love the view up here. How about you?"

Amelia chuckles a little. "He may not believe Inimeth won't eat him, but he's in training to be a search and rescue pony, so he's getting used to being around things that unnerve him." She pats the runner's neck as they get closer, encouraging him to remain calm. The runner is distracted from the dragon by D'son's movement, and his amble up the ridge turns towards the human, neck stretched out to sniff him when they get close enough. "It's a pretty nice view, yes. Exhilarating."

"Oh, that's great!" D'son says enthusiastically and steps a little closer, hand reaching for the runner's nose. "Inimeth's big for S&R but we used to lead that wing at Ista," the bronzerider explains. "Annnd we had to use the skills a few times while I was Weyrleader. It's really my favorite duty as a rider." He looks out at the view again, takes a deep breath and nods. "Yeah. Feels like the whole world is at your feet even from the ground."

The runner sniffs all around D'son- hand, arm, neck, face, and breathes heavily, taking in D'son's scent as well as the dragon-stink covering him. Then he snorts and presses his nose into D'son's hand. Still mounted, Amelia is quiet while she watches the runner's reaction, then as the bay relaxes she swings a leg over the saddle and slides off. "Guess he's almost ready to be sold, actually- he's not responding negatively to the smell of your dragon." She smiles proudly. "Sometimes I'd like to go be a search and rescue rider- I helped out sometimes at the Hold, but we didn't often have the opportunities. And I suppose there aren't too many where a ground crew is absolutely necessary, but hopefully this guy will go somewhere he can be useful often. He's the kind that likes having a job to do."

Patting the runner's nose gently, D'son looks up at Amelia, nods. "Yeah, he's being really calm compared to the way some animals act around Inimeth," the bronzerider says with a little wry grin. "Runners can be a lot more useful than dragons sometimes on the ground. Need a dragon though for the sea rescues, really," Dels says seriously. "If you want to be part of S&R though, could put in a good word with Mikey for you … er, I mean K'ael."

Amelia nods. "Well, I think I'm already sort of unofficially on the S&R ground team- only because I know how to ride well and did it at the Hold, but at the same time the whole apprenticeship duties keep me kind of busy. I'd like to get up a rank in the next year." She laughs a little more at the mention of K'ael. "I suppose; he's a little intimidating. Did you hear about him carting off Toban the other day?"

"Oh well good, it's good practice if you want to do more of that. Especially after you get a journeyrank." Is that a faint note of envy in D'son's voice? But then he's blinking and laughing. "Sorry, I've known him for too long to be intimidated by Mikey. We stood and impressed together." Shoulders lift, drop. "Did hear about it, sure."

Amelia laughs with him and adds, "That other mare, the one you met me with, she was being fought over. Poor mare was the complete opposite of this guy- shout a little bit, throw your arms about and she falls apart. Pretty, but hot-bloods are so scatterbrained." She grins. "He and Niva came along as just the right moment. Guess we came out on the better end, Toban got Nicca's mare and we keep the finest Keroon had to offer, even if she is lame."

A low whistle passes D'son's lips. "Shells. That's amazing. So … that means we've got good breeding stock at the Weyr then. Interesting." There's a little pause and Dels clears his throat. "Why … was there fighting though?"

Amelia shakes her head, missing the real question. "Nah. Could have been. He came swooping in on a brown fom Benden- Benden of all places! And about the time Sunny flipped out, we rushed her out into the meadow and K'ael and Niva were coming across the way, so as soon as Dad and Toban came out of the stable, the Weyrwoman was there to throw him out of the weyr." She smiles a little, and hugs the bay runner's neck. "We do have good breeding stock. I'm not sure it was about the breeding stock so much as power plays, though."

"That's Niva for you," D'son says with a chuckle and a faint note of fondness in his voice. "Well that's good for the runners here," is his assessment and he makes a face about power plays. "Riiight. Toban … isn't happy I don't think unless he's posturing for someone."

"No arguments here," Amelia agrees, expression admiring. "Niva has such an air of command… my mother was always impressed with her, but I hadn't gotten a chance to meet her, really. I suppose I still haven't; just got to see her in action. I can't imagine being able to order about a person like Toban. I always did my best to be either scarce or not worth noticing when he came by the stables at the Hold."

"She can be … stubborn and judgmental too. But she's definitely got the whole leaderly manner down pat," D'son states thoughtfully. "And her heart is usually in the right place. Just wish she hadn't spoiled both of her kids so rotten." His expression gets a little distant for a moment before re-focusing. "I think he's just a bully. So you know, not letting him walk on you works."

"Well, kids will grow up, eventually. I mean, usually. I don't really know her kids, we didn't cross paths much as kids." She shrugs a bit weakly. "But Toban… great theory… not so great in practice. He's not just a bully, he's a clever bully, and he's made people lives very difficult at the Hold, especially if they don't want to comply with his whims, or have some ties to the Weyr like we did. I like to think I'm strong enough not to let somebody walk all over me, but sometimes I freeze up."

"Sure, they grow up, but uhhh … yeah they don't necessarily grow out of the spoiled," D'son says in a tone that indicates some kind of up close and personal knowledge here. "Yeah. Have to be cleverer I guess. At least he's not completely insane?" the bronzerider offers over by way of consolation.

Amelia's brow furrows and she peers at D'son curiously. But she lets the potential question pass, and laughs instead. "I know some'd argue he is definitely insane!" She grins. "I'll tell you what, something's going to happen there if he doesn't get off his high horse and listen to Valda some- she's aching to take over when he's gone, and I know she'd love it if his scheme to get a new wife from Lemos fails."

"Heh, maybe. He's no Kefai, that's for sure," D'son says emphatically. "And you really think so? How pissed do you think he'd be if that all fell through?" The bronzerider's hand runs up along the runner's neck aims to find a good spot to scratch behind an ear.

"Possibly angry enough to hurt another runner, actually. He might even storm back here and blame the Weyr like he blames it for so much else. Course, he wouldn't be able to go running to Benden for support if it was the Lemos deal that fell through." The runner, meanwhile, is quite relaxed, even lowering his head to give D'son easier access. He's not to the point of making faces, though.

"Oh that's no good," D'son says with a shake of his head, makes another face. "And I can't figure the whole blame game either. Doesn't really make sense when you get down to it," he says with a thoughtful look and deepens the scratching behind the runner's ear a little.

Amelia shrugs again and moves around to the bay's other side where she disappears behind his hindquarters. A moment later, the bay's head jerks up and he starts making faces, head lolling sideways. A chuckle is followed by, "Yeah, that's the spot, eh boy?" and more chuckling. "There's a sweet spot on either side, just on the inside of his legs."

"Is there? It's amazing how they have those," D'son says, switching readily to runner talk. "Inimeth has a couple of spots that just melt him into a puddle."

Amelia appears again over the runner's rump, peering across to Inimeth with a pondering expression. "Are they awfully big spots? He's quite a bit larger than a runner, and some of them you've got to cover a lot of space for them to melt."

"No, not really. I mean, some of them are bigger than for a runner and their headknobs and eyeridges are sensitive," D'son explains, gesturing around his own head. "But some spots aren't any bigger than a good scratch behind a runner's ear."
Amelia is skeptical. "Little strange that such a large creature can be affect by something so small," she pauses, expression still thoughtful. "But then, we humans can be killed by the tiniest amount of poison or an itty bitty bug bite, so I guess it still fits."

"You're the beastcrafter," D'son points out with a grin. "If you can figure out the why and wherefore of it, I'd be interested in the answer, all I can say is what I've seen from him and other dragons," the bronzerider says with a nod towards the bronze. "Size isn't everything?" he quips a little, colors just a touch and gives the bay a final sweep of is hand before stepping away, back toward Inimeth who ducks his massive head toward his rider's outstretched hand and lets out a low croon of pleasure.

Amelia is observant enough to catch the coloring and smiles a bit at the joke. "I may just do that. After all, I'm going to be an animal healer, it's definitely a topic I can make into a project. 'The Sweet Spot'. It'll be a good essay," The smile turns into a grin and she watches him walk away, expression a little torn. "I guess I'll see you another morning?" she calls after him, then immediately turns back to mount the runner to hide her own face, embarrassed she's bothering.

Looking back over his shoulder, D'son blinks in surprise. "Oh, I'm not going anywhere. He was just feeling a little bit left out," the bronzerider explains about the dragon. "Will the runner stay put if you come over to say hello? And if you put that project together, let me know. It'd probably make interesting reading."

Amelia is halfway mounted, and gathers herself the rest of the way into the saddle. By the time she looks back towards them, her composure is poised. "I'll do you one better, and work on Journey at the same time. As long as Inimeth agrees not to do something like yawn or snort on him, that would be a bit rude." As she's talking, she's also encouraging the runner to walk towards the dragon, and thus far the bay acquiesces, albeit warily.

"Journey? Oh that's his name?" About the runner and D'son nods. "I'll make sure he understands," the bronzerider says quickly and his focus shifts for a few seconds. "He'll hold very very still," is the claim when he surfaces and smiles up at Amelia.

Amelia nods, patting the runner. "Yup. Because he's always been slated to make long journeys, throughout his life. He can take just about anything you throw at him, which, it appears, includes dragons," her voice gets progressively softer and lower as they near the dragon, the tone soothing and encouraging and directed towards the runner. A few feet away, Journey stops to let Amie slide down again, and, taking hold of the reins, she moves gingerly forward, closing the distance and touching the dragon. "See, it's safe," she murmurs, and the runner, quite the trooper, stretches his neck to sniff.

"Nice he's got a name with meaning," D'son replies, hand still moving up along Inimeth's eyeridge and dropping behind one headknob. Inimeth continues to hold still, though his eyes whirla bit as the runner's nose approaches his own larger one and being a sociable sort, lifts his muzzle a little to touch back. "He says that runner nose hide feels interesting."

Amelia smiles at the dragon's comment, and removes her own hand from the dragon so she can have both steadying Journey. "Soft, is what their noses feel like. Soft as kitten's fur, or baby chicks. Or anything newborn, really… except maybe humans." The smile turns into a grin as Journey holds his own, even snorting at the feel of dragon on his nose. His ears flicker back for a moment, but he doesn't show any sign of being particularly worried.

"Baby humans feel pretty soft too," D'son offers over and leans into Inimeth's jaw with the besotted look most riders have for their dragons. "Looks like he's doing pretty well. Inimeth wishes he could talk to him."

Amelia watches D'son enviously, and she, too, leans into and rests her head on the runner's neck. Journey doesn't exactly lean back, but he does stand still for her display of affection. He does, however, begin to investigate the proportions of the dragon, peering up and around to see just how much bigger Inimeth happens to be. "Well, he is an animal himself… there is a universal sort of language creatures have. I imagine dragons can tap into it just as well as dogs and cats and runners and bunnies and birds can. Though they might not realize it, given the relationship they have with humans."

A lot bigger. A /lot/. "Dragons … are more than animals," D'son says quietly. "But he means literally talk. Not just pick up on Journey's emotions," the bronzerider explains.

Amelia nods, though she only partly understands from having family with dragon lifemates. "Well, yeah, of course. But still- it's… all creatures- us included- use the same basic body language signals when we're afraid, happy, sad, stressed, etcetera. Animals do literally talk, using body language and noises. For runners, it's the whickers, whinnies, snorts, even growly sounds. So it's something that can be learned and used to converse. Of course, it takes time."

"It's not words," D'son struggles a little to explain. "That's all. Inimeth wants to use words. He likes words." The bronzerider leans a little more into the dragon, offers a slightly wry smile over toward Amelia. "At any rate, he thinks runners are interesting to look at too. Though he feels bad for them that they can only eat grass and grain."

Amelia sighs a little. "Yeah, I know that you're trying to explain it, and I know I don't really understand it. J'ril's tried to explain it but he couldn't, not really. And both Mom and Pheri tried do, but even hearing her voice for just a few moments was kind of disconcerting. Granted, I was twelve years old and leaving the weyr for the hall." She shrugs then, and moves on. "Hey, they can have fruit and veggies, too- I don't think they at all dislike not eating meat. That'd be kind of cannibalism."

"Yeah, I've never been able to explain the bond right," D'son says with a little shrug. "I think it's just one of those things, you can't know it until it happens to you." Breath out. "Want to try scratching his favorite spot?" he offers over then laughs. "Well in this case, he really means meat. Because you know, nothing beats raw herdbeast or a brace of pigs in his book."

Amelia shudders a little. "Yeah, well, he can keep the pigs and herdbeasts for himself. I'll take them nicely cooked." And she peers at Inimeth with the same sort of curious caution Journey had. "Uhm…" she peers a bit more. "I could… try?"

"Me too. Nothing quite like a good steak," D'son says happily about nicely cooked food and he holds a hand out toward Amelia. "Here, take my hand and I'll show you where to put yours," the bronzerider says earnestly. "He's easygoing, it'll be fine."

Amelia slowly pushes away from Journey and reaches for D'son's hand, her eyes on Inimeth. "Well, even the easygoing ones accidentally roll over or snort." There is a little humor in her voice, and after a beat, she adds, "Destroth didn't particularly fancy the family introduction… so sorry if I'm a little wary of touching somebody so big."

"Not onto people," D'son promises with a shake of his head, though he does smile encouragingly. "Destroth is your … mother's dragon?" Even as he guides her hand up to that spot behind Inimeth's head. "Right there, firm motions, more like … a massage for a person than a scratch for a runner or a dog."

Amelia turns her head to favor D'son with an almost withering glance, as though he should have remembered. "Destroth is my brother's bronze." But she's distracted by the dragon right in front of her, and she attempts to follow his directions. "Fascinating," she says a little breathlessly. "I mean, I've been around them, and I've had rides to go places, but I didn't get up close."

D'son colors. "Sorry … I haven't sorted out all of your family yet," D'son apologizes then pipes down as she gets absorbed. His hand stay with hers for a moment then draws back and Inimeth let out a low hum of approval. "There's … just nothing like a dragon," the rider says with a faint note of awe and adoration in his voice.

"Yeah…." Amie trails off, listening to him but also attentive to the dragon. "Can I, uh… this will sound silly but may I listen to his inside? /Can/ it be heard from outside? On some animals you can hear their stomachs and their lungs and their hearts… I wouldn't want to overstep his comfort though." Oh, nerdiness in the form of animal healing. It's always present.
"You probably could hear if you just lean your ear up against his chest," D'son says thoughtfully. "I've never really tried on purpose, but sometimes when I'm leaning against him, I hear little rumbles and things."

Amelia steps back from Inimeth's head then, a little clumsily, eager to give this chest-listening a shot. It might've been D'son she bumps into, or it could be Journey's head- he's boldly curious about what's so interesting. Either way, she apologizes, and looks at Inimeth's front half. "Uh… which area, do you think?"

"S'okay," D'son says, stepping back a little himself to give her more room. "Um … probably around in here," the bronzerider gestures as helpfully as he's able and give Journey a pat.

Amelia manuvers around Inimeth to lean up against his chest- at least, as well as a short person can lean against the chest of something much, much larger. While manuvering, she gives Journey a push on his chest and asks him to back up. The runner complies and backs away though continues to watch them all curiously. She leans up against Inimeth, then, and places her hands on either side of her sideways head, trying to feel vibrations or hear rumbles or anything.

Inimeth looks down with his head cocked to the side as Amelia plasters herself against his chest, from his perspective anyway and lets out a whuff that's probably mildly amused. And then he burps. On purpose. Which makes D'son facepalm. "He wants to know if that was good."

Journey is more put off than Amelia and backs up several feet before settling back into watchfulness. Amie, however, chuckles. "Oh, it was great. Can he do it again?"

Peeking between his fingers, D'son looks a little surprised then drops his hand. "Sure. I'll ask him." And again his hand reaches out toward the runner to soothe him a little and curl hands around the reins lightly. Inimeth summons another belch, bigger this time, rumbling as it builds. "Good thing you haven't had any firestone," the rider tells his dragon wryly.

Amelia giggles as she listens to it build up inside. "Brilliant! Runners don't really burp. They can't even throw up if their tummies hurt- bad food kills them." She looks back at D'son, grinning. "Course, that's why they train people like me, to help out when they get colicky." Journey, responding to the reins being picked up, steps close to D'son.

"Oh ouch, that … ugh, that has to be a bad way to go," D'son says, face creasing with horrified sympathy. "Good thing they've got crafters like you looking out for them though." He turns his head, smiles a little at the runner, reaches across to pat his nose while Inimeth musters another smaller belch for Amelie and then settles down a bit. "Inimeth wants to know if you can hear his lunch."

Amelia nods seriously. "Yeah, much as I hate when I get sick and have to throw up, it would be terrible to not even have the option. Then she returns her head to Inimeth to listen again. "Hear as in hear it 'Moo' or hear it rumbling?"
Ducking his head, D'son mumbles: "Um. Moo." And one foot kind of digs at the ground a little, sheepishness abounds. As does Inimeth' sense of humor. His head snakes around, muzzle aiming a light nudge at Amelia. Not so hard as to send her off balance, just saying hello.

Amelia laughs out loud, "I think the Mooing part is over by now!" Then she stumbles backwards in surprise when the large muzzle appears in her bubble. "Oh my, hello!" she's still laughing, though. "Right then, maybe it's time to give him back his personal space."

"He's being friendly. Likes the attention," D'son explains and frees up a hand to reach over toward Amelia to steady her if she needs it. "He's not really the fussy kind of dragon."

Amelia does take advantage of the proffered hand, rebalancing herself and now returning to the sweet spot D'son had showed later. "Well, let's see if I can give him some good scritches without help. My hands are strong enough for runners and herdbeasts, haven't ever really rubbed on a dragon, though. I suppose riders get super strong hand muscles, if you're always catering to dragon spots."

"It's not all that different really, just you know, bigger proportions," D'son says with a grin and then flexes one of his own hands, looks down at it thougthfully. "Hadn't really thought about that. But you're right. "

Amelia works on rubbing the vicinity shown earlier, hoping somewhere nearby is the right spot, and also looks at D'son and his hands, making the same observation. "Do riders ever lose flexibility in their fingers due to using their palms so much more for oiling and rubbing and such?"

The nice thing about dragons is that they croon like firelizards when they like what you're doing only it's a lot louder than a little firelizard croon. So it's pretty obvious Inimeth is happy. He settles, his eyes go clear blue and eyelids droop. "Um. Ask me again in thirty years?"

Amelia smiles broadly, pleased. "Yes, yes, of course. Wow. What a lovely sound. Rumbles right on through you, it's so big," she's enchanted by the proximity to the vibrations, and continues rubbing with as much strength as hay-bale-thrower strength can muster.

"You really like that, huh?" D'son seems both charmed and bemused by Amelia's fascination with the sound of Inimeth's inner workings. The bronze only croons all the more as her hands move and the rider … well he just winds up grinning like a fool.

Amelia stops rubbing, expression sheepish. "Oh, well, y'know. Ah- I mean, if I'm going to write about sweet spots, I oughta write about dragons, too, even if I'm not going to be a dragonhealer." She shakes out her hands and gives it another go. "It's all science, anyway."

"I've just never seen anyone get so into the sound part, that's all," D'son explains a little awkwardly. "And it's good to include dragons, definitely. You could even ask them about things through their riders." Beat. "For science."

Amelia continues to look sheepish, cheeks colored. "It's just… well, I love music. I mean, I'll never be some great Harper but I love music, especially these low sounds, and even if it's a living creature it's still musical. Most of the time, anyway. But cellos don't go so low, and no matter what noise Inimeth makes, it's so low, because he's so big and the vibrations are so much bigger." She smiles a little, hopefully.

"It is a kind of music," D'son says thoughtfully and looks over at the bronze, reaches forward t o run his hand along hide fondly. "Have you ever been to the Harper Hall? Heard some of the big concerts?"

Amelia nods, smile turning nostalgic. "Once or twice. I'd go all the time if I could afford to. It's one reason I agreed to learn cello- so I could give myself a music fix instead of having to go places. Not that it'd qualify as a fix for anyone else, but I sure like just making pretty sounds… have you? Been to the concerts?"

"Oh so you play? Really?" D'son looks impressed by that then shakes his head, expression mildly regretful. "No. I haven't. Would you like to go sometime?"

"Just a little bit. Mostly just the open strings and a few other notes. Nothing fast or impressive, really," she's not just being modest. Her expression is earnest, which lights up with glee at the offer, she forgets about rubbing Inimeth. "I'd /love/ to!"

"Enough to have fun with it though," D'son says with a little nod and then he beams at her. "Great. We should figure out when they're doing one next. Turnover isn't that far away so there's then at least, but there might be some sooner."

Amelia steps back from Inimeth and towards Journey, responding, "I'm pretty sure I saw a concert listing posted in the Caverns somewhere. I think one of the Masters is going to perform on one of those pianos- they're my favorite. I wish they were more common; they're so magical." She's beaming as well, gleeful. "I'd better get Journey back to the stables now… I didn't mean us to be out so long, though I'm so proud of him and I can report he's ready to go to the next level." She pauses, colors a little and babbles on. "Not that I didn't like talking to you, or meeting Inimeth, uh, I did!"

"Piano … huh. You know, the schematics for those are pretty fascinating," D'son says, perking up a bit. But she's stepping away and his hands get shoved into his pockets, smile fading a bit. "Oh … sure, sure. No, hey, I didn't think that," Dels says with a shake of his head that disarranges too-long bangs. "It was good talking to you again, Amelia. Have a good ride back down."

Amelia quickly mounts, before she can find an excuse to stay longer. She swings Journey around to face D'son and Inimeth, "You, too. And have a happy day," She smiles just a little bit and looks at him quietly for a long moment, then asks the runner to move out. It's unclear whether it's Journey or Amie in a rush to get back down the ridge.

"Thanks," D'son answers, gives a little wave and looks back up at the beastcrafter steadily as she lingers, one hand resting against Inimeth again. There's a little nod somewhere in there, then his gaze breaks away, finds the horizon as the runner and rider hoof it back down below. The bronzerider stays put for a bit, shoulder leaning into Inimeth's then he turn to pick up his stuff, mounts up and glides home.

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