Fort's Winter Festival

Xanadu Weyr - Forest
This broad path that leads from the main clearing into the forest has been designed in such a manner so as to be not only wide enough for wagons to travel through, but also providing ample space for dragons. The path appears only worn in the center though, as most of the traffic moving through this area is that of the two-legged kind. Flowers sprout up and speckle the lush grass with bright saffron and cheeky rose, creeping all the way up to the bases of the trees that 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.

The path winds its way leisurely through the trees, deeper into the forest and a number of less traveled paths branch away from it. Southwest leads to the forest's edge near the base of the tumbled rocks that mark the wilder areas of the forest and the mountains that rise behind Xanadu. West leads to the Firelizard Theater, northeastward the path leads to the feeding grounds and beyond that the gravel road that bisects the paddocks leading to the bovine complex. East leads to the meadow where it joins both the road that crosses the bridge over the river leading to the clearing and the the coastal road that leads out of Xanadu bypassing the beach and the Caspian Lake. Here there are secluded spots where one might picnic

A flash of brown darts among the trees, encouraging chitters marking his location when he lands on low-hanging branch. "Slow down brat." is huffed out quickly as Kera jogs into the clearing Minimur waits. The girl is bundled up for very cold weather, which is odd since it's not that cold at Xanadu yet. When she catches up to the firelizard, she props herself against the tree-trunk to catch her breath. No sooner does she, than Minimur chitters excitedly and takes wing once more and darts ahead through the trees. "Oh come on! That's not even a path!" With a huff she jogs ahead, slowing in order to climb over a tall root rather than go all the way around it. "You better be right or no treats after dinner."

Mur'dah is just walking down the path from his weyr, pausing as he watches his brown namesake go zipping by his head. "Easy there," he says with a soft chuckle, looking around before spotting Kera. "Hey, he get into the sweets?" he asks, grin crooked.

Kera stumbles out of the treeline onto the path, peering each way before looking towards the chittering. Minimur is definately excited that he found Mur'dah, since that's what Kera asked him to do. Thus the confusing to follow looping displays over the brownrider before zipping over to settle on the girl's shoulder. "Good job Mini. But did ya have to lead me through the forest when there was a path?" She reaching into his little snack pouch and gives a tiny bite of dried meat. Afterall, he /did/ find the rider. Taking a few seconds to catch her breath from the hike, she makes her way towards said rider. Self-consciously reaching up to smooth out her braid. "Hi Mur'dah. I hope he wasn't bugging you."

Mur'dah laughs, shaking his head and pushing hair out of his face. "Not at all," he assures. "What're you doing wandering the woods?"

Kera smirks to her shoulder at the question and rubs the little brown's jaw gently as her other hand reaches for a treat. "It wasn't my /intention/ to go wondering around, but Minimur had other ideas." Peering back to Mur'dah, her feet, which don thick boots instead of her normal sandals, shift almost nerouvsly. "Well, um, see, Fort Weyr's having a festival, and I was sorta wondering, if you don't have duties, or other plans, would you…" She fidgets with the lowered hood of her borrowed jacket "Would you like to go to the Festival with me?"

Mur'dah is smiling along easily, nodding his head…until she asks her question. Then he just blinks, rather taken aback and surprised by her question. "Go…with you?" /With/ her with her? "I, uh. Well." Way to fumble it, Mur'dah.

If she wasn't nervous enough, having spent the entire morning finding nice looking cold weather clothes to wear today. Then redoing her braid three times til she had it /just right/. His response however slaps the cheery and dare one say, hopeful, expression right off her face. Giving herself a once over at his reaction, her cheeks start coloring with humiliation. Turning her attention back to Minimur she forces a little smile on her face as the brown croons and rubs his knobby head against her cheek. "Oh it's no problem. You're probably busy." She turns away marginally "I should um, be checking in at the infirmary maybe..ah, yea…"

Mur'dah blinks again a few times, but he shakes his head and then makes a little lunge forward to try and grab her arm or her coat or something. "No, wait," he says, his cheeks flooded with dark color. "No. I'll…yeah. Yeah, let's…let's go. Just…I'll meet you in the clearing, okay? Let me just go…change and…get warm clothes, and…get Kalsuoth." Because that's important too. "Okay?" he asks her, still a bit deer-in-headlights, but at least he's smiling? A little? Shyly, even? Confused, yes.

Kera pauses when her jacket sleeve is tugged and glances back to Mur'dah. A few seconds later, she's grinning and nods agreeably. "Shiny!" She coughs and blushes a little "I mean, Sure, I'll meet you there." She tries, and probably fails horribly, at tryin to seem like it's just another day. The little giggle that slips out as she turns and starts back to the Weyr proper, using the path this time, which she points down to as her voice trails off. "See this Minimur, path, path, people walk on them…."

Mur'dah stares after her for a moment before he's hustling to his weyr. In a few short minutes (okay, more like 15) he's with Kalsuoth in the meadow. The brownrider is dressed nicely, changed into his best leathers - which are not the ones she dumped perfume on - he's had nw ones made.

Kera arrives at the clearing and settles her lizard into her bundled up jacket, giving him room to peek his head around as he likes. With gloves in her hands, she grins and waves to a few people going about their business. Taking a moment to give herself another once over, she frowns at a dirty smudge by her knee, which she starts trying to swipe away. Seeing Kalsuoth arrive she straightens and starts towards the brown pair. "G'day Kalsuoth." She gives a polite dip of her head to the brown as she approaches.

Mur'dah adjusts his gloves and leans down in the straps, offering the woman a hand up onto his lifemate. "You said Fort, right?" he asks, giving her another shy, slightly nervous look.

Kera nods in automatic response as she accepts Mur'dah's help in scrambling. "Fort Weyr yea. I was there after my testing the other day. Was really pretty." Settling on, she glances down briefly before tugging on gloves and cinching up her hood.

Mountain Pass /^\^\ Fort Weyr - Glacier Lake

Wind and water washed stones of harsh gray and black scatter the area surrounding a large bright greenish-blue body of water. As if carved out with a spoon the land abruptly dips down into a deep and pure crystal lake, where the bottom is visible because of how clear the lake actually is. The water is a strikingly contrast with the cold harsh landscape that surrounds it. The shore is rugged with large boulders and chunks of rock prevent easy access to the shore line, making it less than ideal for swimming. Of course, the water is also freezing to the touch as its source is the glacier nestled between the higher peaks of the mountainsides surrounding it. Marks exist higher along the walls of the gully, a washed out white water mark showing the variability of the water level, scarring the stone as a permanent reminder of what once was.
To the west of the lake, hidden in the grove of rock, is a foundation built up with matching stones. Its very indistinguishable against the background, often hidden from view as it so easily blends in. It spreads out away from the lake and towards more forgiving and friendlier grounds where some soil holds dominance over rock and ice. Once in disrepair, the entire structure has been rebuilt and expanded and in this rugged terrain it looks so inviting and welcoming despite it's odd location.
Still, to the north, the mountain peak towers into the clouds, often covered with snow and ice. This is where the glacier roosts, some hundreds of feet further up. Scaling it requires a skilful climber with ice and rock climbing gear. Its also treacherous and known for unforeseen fissures and the odd avalanche. Caution is aired when heading up that route.

Mur'dah nods, "Okay," he says, making sure she's buckled before he sends Kalsuoth into the air. Vanishing between, the brown emerges above the weyr, hovering for a moment as he touches thoughts with the local watch dragon. Then, another hop between before he's circling to land, whistling softly at the gleaming spread of ice and snow beneath them. "Shards, they really outdid themselves," he says as Kalsuoth lands. Unbuckling, Mur'dah dismounts and lifts a hand to offer to help her down.

Kera does her best to not squeak /too/ loud when the dragon leaps upwards. She grabs on, whether it's to straps or Mur'dah's jacket, who knows. Keeping her eyes shut tight, she only cracks them open again when Mur'dah speaks up. Blinking a couple of times, she peers downwards and nods agreeably "I didn't see it from this angle before." A little laugh given and shortly she's accepting Mur'dah's help down. "Thanks." Better dressed for the weather this time so there is no shivering, she's undoing the first toggle so Minimur can slip out and enjoy the Festival too.

Mur'dah gazes around as the sun begins to set, festivities getting underway again. "Well, since you were here yesterday, show me around?" he asks, giving her a little smile. And after a moment's hesitation, he offers her his arm as well.

Kera 's attention slips around, surveying the attractions a few seconds before smiling back to Mur'dah. Her cheeks color a nice pink shade as she nods and slips her hand around the offered arm with a shy grin. "I was able to see Tunnel of Light." She gestures off in the direction it is. "And some very skilled workers made really nice scupltures in ice." A hint of a shrug lifts her shoulders "I didn't have much time to see or do anything else before I needed to find my rider back home. So we can explore around if those things don't interest you."

Mur'dah peers around and then he looks down at her. "Whatever you want, Kera, this is your evening," he says, giving her hand a little pat.

Kera smiles up to Mur'dah and gives a happy little bounce as she giggles. The bouncing action jarring Minimur who chitters a scolding to the giddy girl before winging off to mingle with new winged friends. "Stay close." She calls out to the lizard before peering around. Not far off, she spots a few people turning along a path with ice skates slung over their shoulders. "Oh! We could try that." She points the people out "That could be fun. I've never done it before, but it can't be that hard can it?" Famous last words. She sends a curious look up to Mur'dah.

Mur'dah grins where she's pointing, and then he laughs. "Of course, Idrissa just gave me skates and I left them in my weyr. If they have some we could borrow, I'm all for it! Do you know how?" he asks, leading her in that direction.

Kera chuckles at the irony and shakes her head. "Not yet. But ask me again after I give it a try. My answer may change." Laughing at herself as Mur'dah leads the way. She slips her hand a little more around his arm…to….keep her hand warmer, yea, that's it. She's not actually skipping, but there is a hint of giddiness in her step.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ice Skating Area ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The glacier lake is frozen solid now and has been swept clear of as much snow as possible to allow for a smooth skating surface. A few benches have been set near the shore line, as well as cleverly placed food and beverage stalls. Skaters are permitted on the ice at all times, though at night the conditions may be a little dim and hard to see by.

Mur'dah glances down at her briefly, a smile tugging at his lips as he escorts her to the booth where they're renting out skates. He puts down the mark deposit for both pairs, taking his and waiting while she tells him her size. Then he leads them over to a bench meant for the purpose of changing, pulling off his boots with a shiver. "Glad I went for the extra, extra thick socks." With the blue dragons on them!

Kera watches a couple of skaters a moment before telling her size and slipping onto the bench next to Mur'dah, smiling at his socks. She starts tugging off a boot "Glad this pair doesn't have any holes." a soft giggle bubbles out as she examine one of the skates like it hold some secret before wiggling her thickly socked toes and sliding the skate on. "So, you know how to do this then? Since Idrissa gave you skates.."

Mur'dah grins at her as he tugs on the skates, pulling on the laces firmly. "Make them tight, especially around the ankles," he advises. "I do, yeah. Grew up in Xanadu, and then when I was in the Reaches I got to skate a bit…" He frowns slightly and then stands. "Be careful when you stand, it'll feel weird," he says, offering her a hand.

Kera nods to the advice and gives a few extra tugs and adjustments before tying the laces and starting on the other. Adjusting the laces once more, she smiles over to Mur'dah as he talks about growing up. Catching the little frown, she peers back to her laces and starts nibbling on her bottom lip. When Mur'dah starts frowning, their chats go sideways. Cinching the laces and tying them off, she tries to roll her ankles. Not able too, "I think I got them tight enough." Gripping the offered hand, she goes to stand and grasp tighter, her other arm flailing at the air til she gets her balance. "I got a feeling this won't be as easy as they make it look huh?" Ger gloved fingers flick towards a couple of small kids chasing another across the ice.

Mur'dah shakes his head. "It's not," he reassures her, but his grin is cooked as he takes a few steps forward, moving easily and offering to steady her if she needs it while they move to the frozen section of the lake.

Kera chuckles nervously as she tries a first step, then a second halting one. But the third steps makes her lurch forward and she grabs for Mur'dah's arm with both hands. A startled little squeak gets strangled somewhere in her throat as she tries to walk but merely succeeds and nearly pitching forward. Her legs stiffen on their own and she stares at Mur'dah's feet as he pulls her out onto the ice. Her nervous giggles slip out as she flashes up a grin "This is /sooooo/ not as easy as it looks."

Mur'dah is a lanky guy, but he's strong, so he doesn't let her fall. Bracing his weight a bit he smiles. "Easy. Just take your time."

Kera nods as her eyes go right back to Mur'dah's feet. Her legs start to ease of the tension and shortly she tries to get her feet to cooperate again. Her teetering leads to /some/ tottering but for the moment, she keeps her dagger bearing feet going as they should. Swimming, in water, there she has a chance. But here, on the ice, she probably resembles a wherry trying to dance.

Mur'dah grins. "Okay, we're going onto the ice now. I'll go first and you just come on slowly, okay?" Shifting, he takes her hands in his and moves easily onto the ice, giving her hands a squeeze.

Ya mean /that/ was the easy part?! That's what the startled expression that flashes across her face might say if it could. Straightening a bit as she adjust, Kera slips her hands into Mur'dah's and smiles "I wonder if it's too late to see if they have padding." Glancing back down to keep track of what her feet are doing, the girl tries to follow the rider's example, only backwards. Trying to distract herself a bit. "Cute socks by the way." Taking another step or two, she alternates before trying to take awkward steps and letting herself be pulled, her grips getting tighter occassionally.

Mur'dah laughs. "Thanks," he says. "You're doing fine." He skates slowly backwards as he holds her hands, letting her get used to it on her own while he just supports her. "Why did you ask me out?"

Kera smiles a little when she seems to be managing, even Mur'dah said so. Still keeping her attention focused on her feet, she is taking small steps. His unexpected question surprises her, drawing her gaze up sharply. That's all the time it takes for her skates to make new plans, or maybe it was a bubble in the ice that trips her. Kera stumbles, grasp cinching tightly to Mur'dah's. Her face is panicked while she takes a few nearly prancing steps to keep herself from hitting the ice. Once her feet are under her again, where they should be, her body relaxes a little, but the hint of panic is still on her face. "I wanted to spend time with you." Nothing like a simply direct answer, even if she's looking everywhere but Mur'dah. Ah, such pretty skates.

Mur'dah digs his skate into the ice and braces her, catching and steadying her and making sure she doesn't tumble. Then he blushes slightly at her answer, clearing his throat. "Really?" He sounds…well. Doubtful.

Kera 's eyes dart along the ice in front of her feet as she lets him pull her a few feet. Chewing on her lip again, she simply nods quickly in response. Not taking the chance to look away from her feet for the time being, and very selfconscious, she shrugs uncertainly. "But if you want to go back that's okay." A nervous giggle slips out "You'll probably be laid up on the infirmary anyway if I make us both fall."

Mur'dah snorts, shaking his head. "No, I don't want to go back," he reassures her. "You're doing just fine."

Kera chances a glance up, relief slipping over her features as she smiles. "Really?" not clarifying which statement she's questioning as her skates take pity on her and stay where they should.

Mur'dah looks down at her and his smile is shy, but genuine. "Really." To both statements!

Kera flashes a shy smile of her own and relaxes a bit more. "Good." Still smiling, she tries to split her attention between watching Mur'dah and her feet. She's not concerened with the other skaters. It's them that better look out keep her and Mur'dah's path ahead clear, else she'll roll right over them. A few minutes pass and she seems to be doing better. "Thanks for keeping me on my feet."

Evening has once again settled over the region and as the sun sets, the clouds begin to gradually roll in though some parts of the skies remain visible. The winds are low but cold and yet it has done nothing to deter folk from wandering out to enjoy the last night of the Winter Festival in Fort. With the onset of night, the sculptures and tunnels have been lit again and the fires built up to ward of the worst of the chill as the sun sinks lower on the horizon. A pleasant hum of conversation can be heard throughout the grounds, followed by the occasional bursts of laughter and all weaving into the music that is playing from the dance floor dais where the Harpers are now. Food and drink are in ample surprise though currently it is only snack food fare. The feast is planned shy of half a candlemark from now, which may explain why so many are beginning to drift from the various events and towards the 'heart' of the grounds just off to the side of the lake shore and not far from the dance floors. Plenty of seating arrangements have been either carved into the snow (with furs to provide comfort) or wooden benches and tables brought in. Slowly they are beginning to fill, though no one seems in too big a rush.

One such person is the Weyrleader, who has just stepped from the exit (or is entrance?) of the larger of the mazes with a barely contained look of amusement on his features. He's dressed in his most formal clothes again, black overcoat made of heavy cloth embroidered in bronze, russet and gold mostly concealed by a hooded cloak of the same color. His hood is down now though and as he pauses to turn to offer his hand to someone behind him, he can be heard to murmur. "Wasn't so bad, was it?" It almost sounds like a teasing remark, before Th'ero is turning to glance to the slow gathering crowd. "We'd better get down there, before the best seats are taken."

Kimmila snorts as she emerges from the maze, reaching out to take Th'ero's hand. She's not in her gown this time, instead in simple warm clothing, though she is still wearing her more formal cloak. It's too pretty to not use, as she tugs on Th'ero to loop her arm around his. "Agreed."

Xavier dressed for the cold weather including the old riding jacket that had been fixed and passed on to him, he took a seat on the stump he had used the other day. Taking a sip of klah from his mug while reading a book in his other hand. A very focused look on his face.

Over in the ice skating area Mur'dah and Kera are skating. Correction. Mur'dah is skating. There's no good definition for what Kera is doing, other than clinging to Mur'dah's hands so she won't end up in her own infirmary. Kera is ignoring everyone else on the ice, mainly concerned with making her skates stay under her. With Mur'dah's instruction's and guidance She is starting to relax into the tasks. Even though she spends mor etime smiling up at the rider than paying attention to her skates at this point. When it looks as if people are starting to leave she glances around briefly "Looks like something is going on. Should we go investgate? Or take the chance I'll wind us both up in the infirmary?"

Mur'dah skates slowly backwards, his focus on Kera's feet mostly, so she doesn't get them tangled up in his. At her words though he glances around, curious. "Sure, let's get our skates off though, I don't want you breaking an ankle…" With a little nudge he guides them both to the edge and back towards the bench where they left their boots.

Jastre is bundled up and wandering around, he didn't pay much attention to the scenery the previous times he was here. He's got a stick of meat, and it seems like he got one of the super spicy ones. Maybe he was planning on seeing if it'd make him breathe fire after all.

The spicier foods could make one breath fire! Or… feel as though they've swallowed it. Regardless, they seem to be a popular treat among the snack-like foods being offered by the food stalls, along with plenty of the ciders (non-alcoholic and alcoholic), wine, klah and tea. Anything that warms goes over well in a festival held outdoors! The Harpers have finished another stirring song and are now quiet, another signal that something is about to begin. It's that in between moment, allowing folk to gather or drift away as they please before the final events are underway. Th'ero loops his arm with Kimmila's, pulling the bluerider close to his side and now a faint grin curves his lips. "Come on, then. Hopefully tonight I won't be pulled away for candlemarks and we can enjoy ourselves. See any of the Candidates?" he murmurs to her as he walks forwards and down towards the lake shore. Chuckling quietly to himself, he then adds in a lower tone. "Were the mazes that bad?" Did someone get lost in there for awhile?

Kimmila lifts her chin to peer around at the crowds, and she nods. "I think I spot a few of them," she says, squinting in the gathering gloom. "And the mazes wouldn't have been as bad if we'd just stuck to our original plan and hand't kept changing our minds," she says with a smirk.

Xavier continues reading and drinking enjoying himself at the festival as he turns a page he looks up and noticed Th'ero and Kimmila. "Hey, Weyrleader, Kimmila. How are you?" He closes the book and walks over to the couple.

"I don't want me breakin' an ankle either." A little smirk given then she's turning back towards the bench, thankful for Mur'dah's little nudges that keep her going. It's a good thing the bench is right there cause her feet are little iceblocks. Safe! Grabbing the bench and not releasing it til her backside is firmly on it. Letting out a relieved breath she didn't know she was holding, Kera flashes a nervous grin to Mur'dah. "That was fun. Scary! But fun." Working the laces off, she rubs her toes quickly before stepping into her boots. "Hmm. I'm half frozen." She jokes before spotting a vendor not far off she grins "I'll get some hot mugs while you turn in the skates?" Waiting about a second before adding "Cider or klah?"

"Cider," Mur'dah answers, reaching out to carefully pick up her skates by the ankles and taking them to turn in to the vendor, getting their deposit back. Then he's weaving through the crowd to find Kera again, before they start following the crowd down towards the shore. "Wonder what's going on," he murmurs.

Jastre turns and at this point spots the Weyrleader, Kimilla, and one of his fellow candidates, and decides to head over. The ice skating is given a contemptuous glare as he passes it. Yeah, no, moving about with knives strapped to your feet is stupid and they're stupid. Normal shoes are the way to go even if you slip. "Hey…. too bad the festival's ending, it's fun if you ignore the cold." which Jastre doesn't, by the way. Faranth, can he whine.

"Oh sure, blame it on me suggesting a different approach!" Th'ero scoffs, but his tone is goodnatured and amused as he turns his head just enough to flash Kimmila a crooked smirk as he walks on at a sedate pace. One that slows as Xavier addresses them and the Weyrleader inclines his head politely to him. "Evening, Xavier. I am well," he murmurs, though with a side glance to his weyrmate he leaves it to her to answer about herself. "Enjoying your time here?" Then Jastre is also joining them and that same respectful greeting is offered though followed by a slight snort. "Plenty to do to be able to ignore the cold. Though if it sinks in too heavily, have you seen the cottage? Beautiful structure and vast." And warm! Glancing between both Candidates and then the gathering crowd, he looks briefly to Kimmila before coming to a hasty decision. "Why don't you two join us? I know where the best seats are and they'll be starting the feast soon." THE feast! From his tone, he makes it sound rather intriguing. "And we best find a spot now so we can get to the best of it before they're swarmed…" Oh the joys of festivals! Th'ero begins to move away again, lingering long enough only to see who follows before picking his way through the crowds and to one of the seating arrangements. This one is a larger one, carved of snow but inlaid with wood and it curves to form a half-circle and faces the lake. What makes it also so coveted is that a small enclosed fire has been dug and placed right nearby to offer some warmth. Bonus of being with the Weyrleader? It's large enough though to hold more than four and from the look of things, there is no seating plan. Folk of all ranks and positions are joining together.

Kimmila turns her head to grin at Xavier and Jastre both, returning their greetings with a nod. "Oh yes, the cottage is beautiful. Great place to hang out and warm up." Winking at the boys, she gestures. "C'mon, you know the Weyrleader always gets the best seats." Maybe that's why she's with him.

Xavier nods his head and follows the couple with a smile and a nod to Jastre. "Jastre, have you been eating the spicy hot kabob's again?" He laughs slighty before he turned to look at Th'ero. "The feast?" His stomach growled and he laughed. "Guess I forgot to eat lunch, I look forward to this and besides, it would be a pleasure to sit with you and Kimmila."

Kera flashes a smile and bobs her head quickly a few times "Cider it is." Feeling more stable again now that her boots are working to warm her feet back up, she crunches through the snow and gets in line. Soon, she's handing over the marks and has two steaming mugs of cider, one she takes a few cautious sips from, so she won't spill, before starting back towards where she last saw Mur'dah. It only takes a few steps til she notices he's moved and alters her path to intersect him. "Here ya are." A shy grin slips over her features as she offers his mug. Peering around as she takes another little sip, a hint of a shrug lifts her shoulders. Matching her steps with his as they join the crowd "Don't know, guess we'll find out shortly."

Mur'dah takes the offered mug, slipping his free hand around Kera's shoulders. So they don't get separated, you know. Leading them down towards the lake he looks around and spots a familiar face. "Sir," he says as he steers them towards Th'ero's table. "And…everyone else. Ma'am," he adds with a nod for Kimmila too, giving respect that rank (and bedmates) require. "Not sure if you remember me, but I'm Mur'dah, formerly Muir, of Xanadu weyr. Xanadu's duties and our compliments on a beautiful festival. This is my friend Kera."

"Hahaha… caught me. It's the best way to warm up out here though I'm no longer burying my head in a snowdrift after eating it." Jastre chuckles, waving the stick of meat at Xavier. "Hello, sir… yeah, I've been there a lot already but if I wanted to stay warm I would've just stayed at the Weyr. I'll suffer for the view."

Zaala hasn't been feeling so great since the iceberg incident, though today, she's up and enjoying the festival and clear of any and all sniffles that came from the adventure. Bundled up thoroughly in winter gear, from a white fur coat down to fur boots and thick gloves, with a scarf wrapped securely around her neck, this lass won't be catching another cold any time soon. Currently she's meandering slowly toward the larger gathering, pausing though at each of the ice sculptures that dot her path, observing them thoughtfully, astonished perhaps by the impossibility of how they were made. She's on her own tonight, if the blue firelizard riding on her shoulder doesn't count for company.

Ever the gracious host and gentleman, Th'ero will see that Kimmila is seated first, along with the two Candidates in tow. "Hey now. It's not always my rank that plays into this good fortune!" he counters back to the bluerider with a smirk. Oh, it definitely helps though! The Weyrleader isn't about the flaunt that though. Chuckling to Xavier, he murmurs. "Might have been wise to forego eating, even if by mistake. There will be enough food shortly to make up for it. And have you, Jastre? Good! As for the view, I'll agree. It is well worth travelling up here to see it." Th'ero will look out again towards the lake, a thoughtful look on his features and a hint of pride that soon changes to surprise as a new voice greets them. Looking to Mur'dah and Kera as they approach, the Weyrleader offers them both a reserved greeting, but warm and inviting all the same. "Fort's duties to Xanadu and her queens. Thank you, Mur'dah and I'm more than glad to welcome you both to the festival. Greetings again, Kera." And he will incline his head politely to her, though the same is extended to the brownrider before he addresses him again. "And I do remember. It's been some time! How is Weyrwoman Thea?" How could he forget that dinner, oh so long ago? Gesturing to the table, he adds. "Would you two like to join us? Plenty of room and one of the better tables to snare. The feast should be starting any moment now." Hope they're hungry? Even with the addition of two, should they accept, there is still room for more! Th'ero lingers by the end of the table however, likely to be the last to sit.

Kimmila chuckles. "But it doesn't hurt!" she counters to Th'ero, grin amused as she settles in. "The view is worth it, and just makes getting warm again all the more appreciated," she says with another smile and low laugh.

Xavier smiles at Jastre before taking a seat. "Well that's great news Jastre. We will have to have a eating contest in the warmer months perhaps it will be who can eat the hottest thing or just who can eat the most." He grins at Th'ero and nods. "Yes, my good luck. I'm so hungry right now I could win a eating contest." He looks out across the lake. "Yeah the view sure is something."

Kera lowers her head and uses the action of taking another sip from her mug to hide her coloring cheeks when Mur'dah's arm slips over her shoulder. Her gaze flicks about, taking in the icey scenary. Mur'dah's voice draws her attention to the group he's led them both to. Still smiling, she lifts her free hand to flash a wave around the table. Recognizing some from her previous visit, she gives a polite dip of her head "G'evening Weyrleader Th'ero, Rider Kimmila. Goo to see you both well." Since Mur'dah introduced her, she merely nods and smiles to those she's just meeting. "Nice to meet you." This to Jastre and Xavier. Th'ero's invitation for Mur'dah and herself to join them causes her to cast an uncertain glance up to the brownrider. "" A visiting apprentice trailing along behind the Fortian Weyrleader and his weyrmate through the Tunnel of Light is one thing. Presuming to plop down at his table is something else entirely.

Mur'dah inclines his head respectfully to the Weyrleader with a smile. "She's doing well, thank you for asking, sir. And don't mind if we do!" Though he does glance down to Kera a moment later. "If you'd like? Otherwise we can sit somewhere else?" It's her call, apparently.

Jastre chuckles. "I'll take you up on that dare if I'm still here!" he tells Xavier. "You, me, and whoever's willing to join in. Though now…" he eats the last of the meat, coughs a little, eyes watering, then looks towards Th'ero when he swallows. "Someone say something about a feast?" he's still hungry it seems.

Zaala makes her way down toward the tables, scritching the blue underneath the chin as she starts looking for somewhere to sit. Tables are filling up fast. She looks for those she recognizes amongst the crowds, coming by in time to hear Jastre's remark about a feast and still being hungry. She hesitates, perhaps like Kera, not wanting to just assume she can just sit where ever and with whom ever. Maybe this group is on a special outing or something? She steps up over behind the other two candidates, Xavier and Jastre, "Hey…" she says politely to them, eyes lifting toward the riders and guests, "Are those seats taken?"

Th'ero gives Kimmila a long look for her counter, eyes narrowing but he chuckles as well. "I suppose it can't hurt. And as for warmth… the dancing later may cure that." Of course there would be more dancing! To Xavier, the Weyrleader flashes a smile and another low, brief chuckle. "Huh. Eating contest, eh? Strange that that was never actually arranged for this festival." Another time perhaps! Or an impromptu one? "Thank you, Kera. Have you both been enjoying your evening?" he asks, though his attention seems focused only on the apprentice Healer while he slips in to sit himself down next to Kimmila. Seeing Kera hesitate, Th'ero looks almost a little puzzled but not for long when Mur'dah accepts… sort of? "Glad to hear she is well. And please, don't feel threatened or anything by sitting with us. At this festival, we tend to… overlook rank?" To a degree. But when it comes to feast and dancing? All are equal! "Oh, there will be a feast." Th'ero assures Jastre with a vague and crooked grin. "Plenty to go around, or so I heard. They've been working on this for sometime!" As Zaala approaches, the Weyrleader will nod politely to her and make a welcoming gesture. Come an join and sit!

As if right on cue, there is a cheer that breaks out from the crowd some distance over and sure enough, they are beginning to set up a covered platters. Lots and lots of covered platters and more food to follow, all carefully protected or kept warm against the elements as best as possible. Soups, stews, chili, roasted meats, tubers and roots prepared in various ways, hot fresh breads, stuffed goods, vegetables prepared in all manners… if one thinks of it, it's likely there. And in the cold, it'll all cool fast and so folk are hurrying in and likewise they are quick to serve it. Th'ero sighs, looking a touch amused. So much for sitting down? "Looks like I misjudged the timing. They're ready now and we've best all get over there. Kimmila, would you guard our spot? I fear if we leave, it'll be stolen before we're even two steps away." Surely he's over-exaggerating? Probably not. "I'll grab a plate for you though, Wingmate?" Already, the Weyrleader is getting to his feet again and any of those wanting food would be wise to follow him. Kimmila wasn't far off when saying it doesn't hurt to tag along and they may be guaranteed some line jumping if in his company. Bonus number two?

Kimmila grins, "Happy to scare off anyone who might dare to steal our table," she says jovially, shooing everyone else off while she lords over their chosen spot.

Xavier quickly stands up to get food with a smile to Zaala, "You should join us, there is plenty of room." He decides to follow Th'ero if there was anyone that would part crowds it would the Weyrleader right?

Kera shifts her feet self-consciously under the scrutiny, but smiles with an agreeable nod "Here will be very nice. Would be silly to turn down one of the best seats afterall." Making sure her mug doesn't spill, she settles down. At the Weyrleader's question, she nods quickly with a cheeky smile "Oh yes sir. I've had great fun." A quick glance to her escort and she smiles over her mug. Gaze slips around the table, dipping her head gently in silent greeting again as a nervous smile slips across her features. What was it Soriana told her for visiting away from home? *Be Polite. Check. *Be diplomatic….skip that for now, hopefully it won't come up. *Don't get in trouble…oh dear, I'm in for it now. Giving herself a little shake to end her internal peptalk, Kera flashes a smile to Mur'dah as she tries to follow the conversation. Zalaa's voice draws her attentions towards the candidates and she offers the other girl a wave before wrapping fingers back around her warm mug. "Hi."

Mur'dah pushes to his feet again when Th'ero does so, the brownrider looking eagerly towards the food. "I'll get you something if you want to stay," he offers to Kera, like a gentleman would. See? He /can/ do it.

Jastre hears the cheering, and immediately moves towards where the crowds are headed, though pauses and looks back. "So… no assigned seats at all, huh? We can sit wherever we want?" he sniffs the air appreciatively, and starts heading there again. Food!

Zaala returns Xavier's smile with one of her own, thankful for his welcoming, which is also repeated by the Weyrleader's nod and Kera's short and sweet 'hi.' Zaala returns the wave, about to say more, when people are standing from the table she was about to join, causing a bit of confusion to fluster the girl. She stands there momentarily, watching the Weyrleader march off and Xavier take off after him, her eyes doubling back to Kimmila as the woman remains but shoos the rest of them. Her firelizard leaps off her shoulder at all the excitement, hiding upon an empty chair seat she was likely headed toward, her own little form of security. With a backwards glance at the tables, she is quick to shadow the other two candidates. Food, right, that's important.

With Kimmila set as guard over their table, they're guaranteed to have their spot to return to as few will ever challenge the bluerider. Some may try and a group of riders do make a bold attempt at snagging the table despite it obviously being claimed. Th'ero however is focused on leading the small group on to the bounty of the feast and true enough, the crowd does shift and part for the arrival of the Weyrleader. Something that has the bronzerider dipping his head slightly, as if sheepish or embarrassed about it. Does it actually bother him? It seems so, though he's attempting to mask it as he presses forwards until they're at the front. "Help yourselves!" he tells both Candidates and guests alike with a wide smile. "Plenty to go around. And no, Jastre. Nothing is assigned. Which is why if you find a spot you prefer you guard it well!" he points out with a dry chuckle, stepping away to begin gathering two plates worth of food. He'll be quick about it too and by the time he is stepping away, he's balancing both on either arm, generously heaped with a bit of everything with a bread bowl of what may be stew in the center. Along the way he pauses, whispering something hurriedly to a server who nods though a touch baffled before scurrying off and then the Weyrleader returns to relieve Kimmila of her duty. "Hope this is sufficient?" he drawls, setting her plate down and his next to it as he slips in to sit (and hopefully stay seated!). The others are on their own to gather their meals and make their way back! The crowds are growing rapidly thicker and heavier as more throng towards the foods, eager chatter filling the night air.

Xavier grabs three plates seeing as he takes much so much room. "Zaala, Jastre I got plates for you two what do you want?" He starts to fill one of the plates and piles tubers meats bread and almost everything you can imagine on the plate til it has heaping then started to work on the other two plates grabbing what is asked for by his fellow candidates. When he is done he would pass the plates to his friends before leading a charge through the thick crowd.

Kera nods agreeably at Mur'dah's offer and grins "Okay, thanks. I'll make sure no one steals you seat." No sooner does she say that than a little brown lizard wings to hover over her before landing on a jacket covered shoulder. "I knew you'ld be showing up sooner or later if food was involved." Minimur croons a soft greeting, to his apprentice and Kimmila as well, since the others are heading to the line. Glancing around the table as she fiddles with the handle of her mug, she takes a calming breath and smiles across the table to the Fortian rider "The Weyr's decked out really nice." A quick laugh slips out "Next time, ya might consider renting out padding in the booth next to skate rentals." Then the Weyrleader is returning and she falls quiet so they can enjoy their meals.

Kimmila politely but firmly turns folks away when they come by, and then she's grinning up at Th'ero when he returns. "Thank you!" she says, "That looks perfect."

Mur'dah returns triumphant, two full (/full/) plates in hand. "Here we are!" he says happily, setting the plates down and sliding in next to Kera.

"Everything!" Jastre calls over with a laugh in response to Xavier's question. "You'll need to grow a couple more hands." is added jocularly as he grabs for the plate with 'everything' on it, and goes to sit down. Then he jumps up again, moving off. "I'll get drinks, what do you want?" he asks Xavier and Zaala.

Zaala looks pleasantly surprised at the manners that Xavier displays and since he's lead the charge, she doesn't protest him takinng the lead on gathering their plates. "The chili," Zaala does speak up, "Hot fresh bread and veggies please!" None of the heavier roast meats for her, at least, not at this point. Her appetite has only come back to her in full force in recent days. The chili may not be a good choice for later, but right now it sounds delicious. Her eyes are full of appreciation when Xavier turns around with the plates and hands her's over, "Thank you Xav," she smiles and then sticks close to him, eyes darting over toward Jastre once, until the focus becomes on not splatting her plate against anyone else as the crowd becomes thicker. Food. Seemingly impressed by her fellow candidate's etiquette, she makes sure to settle into a chair beside them, responding to Jastre, "Um, hot lemon herb tea if they have it. If not, just any type of tea works." And if not that, he'll have to surprise her.

What was that about padding? Th'ero only caught the tail end, just enough to give Kera a curious glance as he's settling in though his attention soon drifts back to Kimmila. "Good. I did my best to grab a little of everything. They outdid themselves for sure on this feast, just like the one for the opening night." he murmurs and begins to slowly pick at the food on his plate. Is he the only one present not with an active appetite? Briefly, he glances up as Mur'dah returns, welcoming him again with another nod before his eyes are drifting back towards the crowds and perhaps with the hint of a concerned frown. Maybe he thinks the Candidates got lost or swept up by them? Folk will begin to drift away though in time, the crowd thinning as food is sought, gathered and seats reclaimed. The skies above are now overcast and though the breeze remains low, some are already beginning to murmur that it may very well begin to snow. Fitting for a Winter Festival but… probably not while trying to eat dinner! So far though, it holds off and to keep the mood light and festive, the Harpers have begun to play again, adding more ambience to the murmur of conversation all around.

Kera 's gaze drifts around the area, pausing on the frigid lake before Mur'dah's return brings a grin to her face. "Thanks. Oh, everything smells delicious." When he sets down the plates and retakes his seat, the rider's little brown namesake chirps a greeting. But is the lizard greeting Mur'dah? Or the two plates piled with food. "Just wait, you'll get more than enough to stuff even your belly." Giving Minimur's belly a gently poke before her fingers scratch along the brown's neck. Looking quickly to Th'ero, she blushes a little and gives a hint of a shrug. "Oh, I was sorta poking fun at my own skating skills by suggesting that next Festival, you rent out padding in the booth next to the skate rentals booth." Thankfully, Mur'dah kept her from hurting herself. The Xanadu rider gets another smile before Kera begins to examine the variety covering her plate. Starting first with something she recognizes, she takes a bite before plucking up couple of morsels and offering them to her firelizard. Her head starts dipping or swaying absentmindedly with the melody of the Harper's notes floating about. A few seconds later, she leans closer to Mur'dah, murmuring softly. "What's this?" She discreetly points out something on her plate.

Kimmila surveys the food Th'ero brought to her, and she grins, leaning over to offer him a kiss. "Thank you, wingmate," she says softly. Looking at the sky, she scoots over a bit closer to Th'ero, eating her food politely but still with a good appetite.

Mur'dah grins at Minimur as he begins to eat his own food, and then he chuckles. "Or padding the entire rink. Or selling padding that you strap onto your knees and your butt. Not that you needed it," he says to Kera, before grinning at the Weyrleader. Then he leans back at her question, and murmurs seriously, "Stewed wherry brains."

Xavier smiles at Jastre. "I've already got my mug of klah back at the table thanks for the offer though." He grins at Zaala and Jastre before making way through the crowd and with a man his size it wasn't hard and people noticed him and moved. Taking a seat back at the table he smiled at everyone. "So the eggs are hardening up really well now right? Could be anytime?"

Jastre nods at Xavier then gets tea for Zaala and strong klah for himself. He sets them on the table then hands Zaala hers, sitting down at his own seat and digging in right away. Despite the fact that he just finished eating a stick of spicy meat, he seems ravenous.

The big guy leads the way and Zaala does her best to creep along behind him in his shadow. Though once at the table, Zaala does indeed start to get settled and really consider her meal, which, given the weather would be cold if she didn't get down to the business of eating. She's already breaking apart the bread and dunking it in her chili, while Xavier pops out the obvious question that's been on all of their minds lately, "Any time…" she repeats with a half nod of agreement, "Are you excited?" Then there's tea to go with her meal and she reaches up to accept the glass, touching her hand lightly to Jastre's arm, "Thank you Jastre." Only then, appreciation being bestowed on both her male counterparts does she start to nibble away at her meal.

"Huh, I never would have thought of padding for the skating…" Th'ero admits with a slight smile to Kera, only to dart his attention to Mur'dah as the visiting brownrider chimes in with his own comments on the matter. Taking bites of food between, the Weyrleader swallows before speaking up again, showing he does have at least the basic manners mastered down. Beyond that, the dinner is completely casual. No fancy dining here! "I think strapping padding to yourself would make it all the more tricky. Cumbersome! And is the loose snow not enough of a breaker along the edges?" Natural padding? Chuckling, Th'ero is about to tuck into the bread-bowl stew when Kimmila is leaning over and he will return that kiss. A rare display for sure, given this couples track record and a brief gesture at best. However he will scoot closer to her side, resting a hand gently over her leg and returns to slowly picking away at his plate of food.

Once all the Candidates are settled and enjoying their food, the server Th'ero had hastily spoken too arrives again, laden with what appears to be a few wineskins and some glasses. Enough glasses for all at the table? "Mhm, thank you!" Th'ero speaks up, gesturing for the server to continue. Empty glasses are set to the table and then the wineskins offered. Red or white? Candidates — included!? And, of course, the guests and likely after the Weyrleader has made his choice. "The white, please. Kimmila?" Then, to Mur'dah and Kera. "A bit of wine for either of you? Benden wine." To the Candidates, he almost grins. Almost. But he keeps a neutral expression with just a small smile. "You three may have a glass too, if you desire. A half glass or less and ONLY this one glass. Doesn't seem fair you don't at least get a taste for the duration of the festival and not to mention we're coming close to the end of a Turn and the start of a new one!"

Kera pales a little at what the serving of food is. Eyeing it warily, she does put a little on the end of fork and bravely lifts the smartfood for a taste. Minimur's inquisitive chitter earns him a few tastes as well. Sampling a few more things, lingering on some things longer than the others. As she investigates her way through the Fortian dishes, Kera frequently smiles to the brownrider sitting next to her while stuffing her lizard into a feasting coma. At the offer of wine, she gives a quick shake of her head. "No thanks, I'll stick with my cider." No wanting a repeat of the /last/ time she had a /drink/ the apprentice pulls her cider mug a little closer so it doesn't vanish.

Kimmila tucks into her food as well, glancing up when the server arrives. "Red," she answers, taking her glass and swirling it to take a sip. "Mmm, excellent, wingmate." When he offers some to the Candidates her grin grows, and she winks at them. "I've been working on that for a /long/ time." Since last clutch!

Mur'dah also orders the red, with a nod of thanks to the Weyrleader. "Thank you, sir." Then he looks at Kera, and he /laughs/. "I was joking. It's tubers. Just made with different spices. You really thought they were wherry brains?" Doesn't she /know/ him at all?

Xavier smiles at Th'ero for including them in the wine even if it was a half glass. It was benden wine and Xavier knew it would be a wonderfull experience. "A white please." He is digging into his food and has a broad smile on his face as he takes a bite chews swallows before taking a sip of wine with a soft smile. "Thank you, Weyrleader."

"Huh? We can? Well if the Weyrleader says it's ok…. thanks!" Jastre's never had Benden wine. After all, he did grow up in Tillek and never ventured to Benden Hold OR Weyr. He has to be biased towards his own region after all, and obtains some of the wine. Sip.

Zaala dabs her mouth on a napkin, following some of the conversation at the table, like, the wine. "White as well for me please," she interjects after the other two, as she might as well indulge if it's being granted. Once it's poured, she too relishes the first few sips. Afterward, "Thank you-" to Kimmila first with a knowing grin, then over toward the Weyrleader.

Th'ero snorts and smirks as he glances sidelong to Kimmila, "And it's only an exception tonight because it's Turnover!" he drawls, as if defensive over the decision even while she's clearly on his side. The server will pour wine for all as each give out their request, politely passing over those that decline and reclaiming the empty glasses before scurrying off again. "You are all welcome." he murmurs in return to the thanks, glancing from Mur'dah and Kera to the Candidates and gripping his glass firmly, he raises it in toast. "To the new Turn! May it be a good and prosperous one for Hold, Hall and Weyr and all of Pern!" Offering his glass then to tap it lightly against the others, his timing was either planned or simply coincidental. There is a sudden hushing in the crowd and many heads turn skywards, while others point to the one far side of the lake. Look, the lantern tunnel is moving! Or… is afloat? Or are these new lanterns? Regardless, these one's are free to rise into the skies and float away aimlessly — not that many go too far. Much to the amused murmurings of some. "Not enough wind." Th'ero mutters, though he still seems pleased with the effort of the attempted display? Already some young youths are scampering out in an attempt to snare some of the wayward low floating lanterns, calling out triumphantly for each they snare and drag aside.

Kera lifts a brow to Mur'dah and huffs as he starts laughing. This is normally where their chats go sideways. With a little shrug, she lowers her head a bit, studying her plate while murmuring back. "How as I suppose to know. It looked funny, tis why I asked. And I did take a bite anyway didn't I?" She smiles though as she continues on with her exploration of her meal, and working through her mug. Minimur's belly is soon stuffed and he's winging his happy little self to rest on a nearby perch to watch the festivities. As The Weyrleader speaks, she peeks over to watch Mur'dah a few seconds before hurriedly turning her attention to Th'ero. And then all those little lanterns are floating upwards, blinking and flickering. "I had forgot it was Turnover." Then again, she's been more concerned with studying and testing than much else lately.

Kimmila grins, lifting her glass to toast. "Agreed," she murmurs softly, tapping her glass to his. Hushing, she watches some of the lanterns lift, and she has to smile. "A beautiful thought," she murmurs.

Xavier raises his glass to the toast and clinks it with the others, before taking a sip and getting to work on his food eating quietly but quickly both from hunger and being lost in thought. He wondered what was in store for him in this new turn.

Mur'dah clinks his glass to the Weyrleader's and turns to smile down at Kera. "Happy turnover! And yes, you're braver than I am. I'd never try anything someone said was stewed wherry brains." He grins, offering her a clink of glasses.

Jastre toasts with the rest, raising an eyebrow at the low-flying lanterns. "Someone didn't light the fire hot enough if they're supposed to be flying away instead!" he comments, setting his glass down and starting on the other half of his plate.

Zaala raises her glass in toast, "Happy Turnover," and spends most of the time afterward eating in quiet observation, sharing her meal with her firelizard, while watching the evening entertainment.

Kera smiles over to Mur'dah, grinning at the compliment really and taps his glass with her mug. "Happy Turnover Mur'dah."

Toasts completed, the feast will continue and Th'ero will join in the conversations between enjoying the food and wine, his mood laid back and calm in such a festive atmosphere. The Weyrleader will slip his arm around Kimmila, foregoing his usual respectful distance set when with the bluerider. For once he's at ease in a social setting and as the candlemarks tick by, conversations drifting in and out, it will begin to snow. Light at first, then in heavier and fatter flakes that drift lazily down and unstirred by the breeze. It makes for a serene end to the festivities, though many folk are still gathered as the count down begins and the grounds erupt in a cheer of many voices as time ticks forwards into a new Turn. With the mood high and everyone in good spirits, the Harpers strike a cord that signals the start of the last dances of the night. What better way to work off all that food and to warm up? Then it's off to find somewhere warm to sleep, most heading back to the Weyr or trying to snare the cottage before it fills. The braver souls will go for the tents by the forest line.

When the music starts for the last dance, Mur'dah rises and offers Kera his hand. "One dance, and then we'll head back home," he says with a smile, before - if she's willing - whisking her off to do just that.

Jastre is not one of those brave enough to sleep in one of the tents, was too slow for the cottage… which meant he hitches a ride back to the Weyr. stuffed full of good food, chilled to the bone but having fun despite that…. a very good Turn's End!

Kera glances up in surprise at Mur'dah's invitation. There is no way that smile is leaving her face now. She nods "I'ld like that alot." And then she rises and they're off to enjoy a dance around the floor.

Kimmila rises with a little shiver, her hand reaching for Th'ero's as the Harpers begin to play. Leaning down, she murmurs something softly to him before bidding good night to their companions and vanishing into the forest.

No dancing for the Weyrleader tonight and as he stands with Kimmila, bending his head to her whispering, he then gives his warmest farewells to all, guests and Candidates alike before taking his leave as well to follow his weyrmate towards the forests. The festival itself will continue on well into the early hours, when the Harpers can no longer play and most are succumbing to sleep and cold. A fine way to bring in the new Turn and even though life returns to normal routine, it will make for a good way to start the next sevenday at least!

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