Run and Catch Me!

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

It's a cool day in autumn. The forest is an explosion of colors this afternoon as the season is is full swing. Red, orange, yellow, gold, brown. Colors everywhere! It's a busy time for most. Harvest season in the fields keep those who live in the holds occupied for most of the day, and within the Weyr there's the usual buzz of business as usual. Ka'el is out for lunch, and he's decided to steal away a certain toddler from the nursery and take a field trip to the woods! There's plenty to see, as Skyler is finding out as he's led hand-in-hand by his father down the pathway that winds through the trees. It's slow going, walking at a one-turn-old's pace, but Ka'el doesn't seem to be in any hurry. He points at a leaf that flutters by. A bright red one. "You see? Red leaf. Red," he prompts, but Skyler doesn't repeat. Unless "uhn?" is the new word for 'red'.

Having gathered the last thing she needed to a little project, Kera makes her way back to the cottage at a leisurely pace. The fluttering leaves are quite vivid and deserve to be admired in the brief time they appear. She's not in a hurry, but even so she does begin to overtake Ka'el and his walking companion. Her mood perks up a bit as she watches the one turn old teetering and toddering along at 'his' pace. "Well look at you! Hello Skyler. Getting to be a big boy aren't you." She seems to totally ignore Ka'el for the moment as she greets the little tot. Wiggling fingers, she smiles at him then turns her attention to Ka'el, offering her friend a quick tip of her head. "G'afternoon sir. Working up an appetite with a little walk?"

"Red," Ka'el says again, as the boy's vivid eyes are still on that fluttering leaf. He's wear's a gray sweater with a matching knit cap. Enough to keep him warm but not smother him. He's a boy who likes to move! And if it wasn't for Kera, he'd probably go tearing after that leaf! But she catches his attention before he can try, and he stops his walk to stare up at her. She isn't a parent of his, but her face is becoming one of those familiar ones that he's beginning to recognize. A friend! And thus, Kera earns a Skyler-grin of greeting, and he babbles something incomprehensible to her. Probably a summary of his day so far! Ka'el, having grown used to playing second-fiddle to his much cuter than he is son, pauses along with him, still stooped over since he's holding his hand. "Afternoon, Kera," he says in return to her. "That I am. And trying to teach Skyler his colors. I've started with 'red' and..that's where we've stuck," he laughs. "How are you?"

Kera smiles from Ka'el to Skyler, nodding along with the little one's babbles and trying not to chuckle. "That sounds like quite a fun day. The big guy slowing you down though huh?" She carries on as if either understand the other, but her voice is amused and friendly. Gaze tilts back to the Weyrleader with a nod. "Red huh? Not a bad choice. Personally, I would have started with purple or green." Grinning as her cheekiness shines through a bit. "I'm doing well, between duty shifts at the moment so was collecting a couple of things I needed from the stores." Her gaze drifts to Skyler again and she gestures with her chin "He's getting bigger every day isn't he.. Will be darting around like one of your tunnelcats quick enough." Smiling, her attention slips from one to the other as she watches Ka'el with his little boy. "Is the Weyrwoman well the last couple of sevendays?"

Skyler may end up being a chatterbox once the few words that he can articulate can be strung into sentences! He’s delighted to have found a conversation partner in Kera, and he giggle-laughs during the exchange. “Should’ve started with bronze,” muses Ka’el with a glance up to the multi-colored leaves, smirking. “Kanekith would’ve been quite proud.” He releases the toddler’s hand now so that he can straighten his back and stand fully. Skyler stays upright without the support with no problem, and without the tether of Ka’el to keep him contained, he’s off! Not as quick as either tunnelcat, but he moves with a purpose, heading straight for Kera. “Watch out, he has his sights set on you,” Ka’el warns in a humored tone. “Soriana is well, yes. Busy, as usual. She and I both are looking forward to a bit of a restday with the upcoming festival at Elysian Fields that they were kind enough to put on. You’ve gotten word of that, yes?”

Kera chuckles when her friend muses about not having started with bronze, and nods agreeably "I bet he would have." regarding the large dragon being proud. "Who knows though. Just because you are trying to get the little man to say 'red', he may wait til something else he likes the sound of better and say that first." Shrugging, she reaches out a hand quickly when Skyler propels himself in her direction. "Oh look at you go! The little man's on the move." Crouching down and taking a knee, she'll assist with a steadying hand, arm, or some other way according to Skyler's intentions. Nodding to what Ka'el says about Soriana, and then the coming Festival. "Yes sir I did. Will try to be there early. I've plans later that evening, but should be there til later in the afternoon. Will you two be bringing Skyler?"

The approaching toddler doesn't seem to need any help walking, but that doesn't mean that he's not going to grasp for that outstretched hand of Kera's! Hands are meant for holding! And so Skyler's little fingers grasp around her larger ones as he takes a few more big (little) steps to her, then … hug! "Oh, right…" observes Ka'el as the boy hug-attacks Kera. "He's gotten into the habit of hugging people left and right. I … blame Soriana." Her and her motherly love! Ka'el's daddy cuddles have absolutely nothing to do with it at all. Nope. Chuckling, the Weyrleader shakes his head in fond exasperation. He'll learn about strangers one of these days, but Kera isn't exactly a stranger, now is she? "Rumor has it that we'll be gutting pumpkins. I don't know about you, but I've neither experience with pumpkins or gutting anything, and so I'm sure it'll be an interesting event," he laughs. "Skyler is most definitely coming, yes, though he'll be doing less gutting and more…pumpkin drumming, I'm sure. I hope Marel and her little one can be of attendance as well. It'll do the Weyr good to see them about."

Kera grasp the little hand that stretches her way and ahs softly as Skyler gives her a hug without hesitation, which she returns easy enough. "Oh, that's a very good hug. Best hug I've had in a long time." Grinning and reaching to adjust his little cap that got jostled. "Gonna be hard to beat a hug like that." She makes a funny face to Skyler, continuing to keep a hand on him as a steadying point. A nod to Ka'el as she still smiles "Ah, I've never carved one myself. I do remember the messy part of the task. When I was told to collect all the seeds from the inner scrapings." A task obviously designed to keep her out of trouble as a kid, for a few candlemarks. "That'll be good. Is her little one doing well?" A quick grin before she adds "Been lots of little ones arriving at the Weyr recently." And even more to come soon. Looking back to Skyler she carries on with the little man enthusiastically "Soon you'll have even more little friends to play with."

Skyler is an expert hugger, isn't he? Although he doesn't understand the praise, he knows the sound of praise. It's a tone he hears all the time! And it's a nice one. One that gives him the grins. "Aww, so nice.." says Ka'el, nodding approvingly to his very affectionate kid. "Like a gentleman, Skyler. Very good." Skyler doesn't seem to mind the adjusting of his hat, though Kera adjusting it remind him that he has it on. Oooh, yeah! That thing on his head. He lifts up a hand and grasps at air, grasps at air again, then..ha! Finally, he gets a grip on that cap…and pulls it right off. Giggle giggle! He holds it up to Kera, his brown hair a mess of curls on his head. "Muh! Muh!" he insists. Whatever that means! "…Collecting seeds?" Ka'el squints his eyes, thinking. "I vaguely remember…pies. In my childhood. My ma…" A pause, faintly faltering. "My…mother making them. Possibly from pumpkins. Mostly, I remember apple." His favorite! "Hopefully this affair isn't just one big trick into having us make their seasonal pies for them," he laughs. "And yes, Marel's daughter is doing well, from what I've seen. My only complaint is that she needs to bring her out more, which hopefully she'll be doing more of soon. Have you seen her?"

Kera grins at the gently little man, eyeing the little fist trying to grasp a portion of the cap. Then success as he offers the knitted prize to her "Aww, muh for me? Thank you Skyler." Watching his little curls fluttering in the cool breeze "But if you give me this, how will you stop all your cute curls from flying away." A funny faced litle grin as she tries to slip it back on his head. "How about you keep it here for now okay?" He probably understands not one word, but she chats with him anyway before chuckling to Ka'el "Oh, that would be mean of them. Promise a feast, only leave out the part about it being us preparing it." A small shake of her head over seeing the brownrider "No sir. Not very much. I know who she is, but I don't know her very well. I think she spends alot of her off duty time at her shop. That's where I've seen her the last few times at least."

Hooray! She's accepted his gift! If that was indeed what the hat was intended to be. Skyler looks pleased as it's taken away though, and looks up at her with expectant blue eyes. Just what does he want her to do with it? Only he knows! (and even that's questionable!) His hair dances in the breeze, and as Kera reaches forward to replace the hat on his head, he makes a break for it! Squealing in delight, he turns around and runs! Well, 'run' is being generous. He walks a little faster than his usual walk! He puts a lot of effort in fleeing, arms swinging away and steps, slightly unsteady now due to the increased speed, are bigger than before. It's like, slow-motion running. Ka'el doesn't move a muscle to help! Instead, he leans against the nearest tree, grinning. "Congratulations. You've been invited to play Hat Off, Run And Catch Me," he chuckles. "Be careful. He's a cheater!" he warns! And meanwhile, he'll carry on the conversation. "Marel's very private, that's true. But once she gets to know you, and vice versa, you've made a friend for life. One've these days, I'll have to introduce you."

Kera is caught off guard, but that passes quick enough as the little boy babbles something as he tries to make his escape. "Oh, I see how it is. Think you can just hug and run huh?" Grinning, she starts after the 'sprinting' toddler "I'm gonna get you little Skyler." Hearing the bronzer mention the little one being a cheater "Aww, have you Kanekith been teaching him the finer points of field ball already?" Chuckling at the friendly little taunt, she glances towards Ka'el briefly before quickly stepping wide around a tree and trying to surprise Skyler "Boo!" A funny face is made before she grins. "Too slow, gonna get ya little man." She reaches pretending to make a grab for the wobbley boy, careful to make sure he doesn't fall. While she chases the little boy, Kera tries to keep up her end of the conversation "We've met already, sorta." She'll leave out one of their 'meetings' wasn't under the best of circumstances. "Not sure if she would remember though."

"Not quite," answers Ka'el, crookedly grinning. "I'm waiting until he's at least three before I reveal all of my field ball secrets to him. He's far too young to hold that kind of knowledge yet." The art of deception and trickeration is a complicated thing! What isn't so hard is running around in the fall leaves. Skyler's is the face of innocent joy as he plays keep away with his funny friend. To him, he's as fast as lightning! In reality, Kera could probably take two great steps and catch him, easily! But luckily, the woman keeps up the game and Skyler continues to crunch on the leaves and feel as if he's the fastest kid on the planet! She pops up from behind a tree. Ahh! How'd she get there? He squeals in surprised delight and flails his arms in front of him, turning around to try to avoid that grab. Zoom! Ka'el's content to watch. Happy to see Skyler happy. Glad for Kera's willingness to play. "She'd remember," he says, sounding confident. "Run Skyler, run! She's gaining on you!" he calls, laughing afterward. "Get him, Kera! Show him what's for!"

Kera snorts in amusement to Ka'el's reply as she shuffles after the surprised little kid, who does a pretty good about face and retreat. "Oh yes, must pace that kind of dangerous knowledge." Waving her arms a bit towards Skyler she chuckles at his renewed efforts to run faster "Oh no you don't….gonna get you little man. No getting away for you." And then she swoops in and wrapping her arms around Skyler from behind in a hug and lifting him off his feet. "Gotcha! See wee wittle man. Can't run fast enough nope nope." A quick wink to Ka'el as she shifts her grip gently and soon is holding the little tot up as if he was flying. Spinning in a few gentle circles "Wheee. Whoa, what ya are you and Sori feeing him. He's not a kid, he's a growing dragonette." Slowing, she turns one last circuit before carefully touching Skyler's feet to the leaf strewn grown. Kera aims him towards Ka'el to give him a target to run to if he wants to take off again.

Oh no! He's caught! Skyler runs and runs until his feet aren't touching the ground again. He laughs and laughs in glee as he's lifted up, eyes squinted closed as he giggles and squirms in her arms. And then, he's flying. Wheee! Swooping through the air like a dragon! He doesn't yet have the sense of mind to spread out his arms, but he enjoys the ride anyway. Ka'el laughs both at Kera's antics with the boy and her comment on his heaviness. "oh, you know. The usual! Sliced wherry and bovine cutlets. Fresh from the pens! It'll make a man out of him." It's good enough for dragons, so it must be appropriate for babies, right? He grins teasingly, and as Skyler is put on his feet, he crouches and stretches an arm out to him. "C'mere, boy!" The toddler's a little disorientated at first, dizzy from the spin, but that doesn't wipe the grin from his face. That was fun! If he had the words, he'd ask for another go! But instead, he toddles to his father in that same slow-mo run as before. Ka'el scoops him up and stands. "I'm afraid this little dragon needs to get back to the nursery," he says, heading towards her to retrieve his hat. "And I should get some food in me before I miss lunch altogether. We'll see you again soon, eh Kera? Pumpking carving, most definitely."

Kera smirks as Ka'el confirms that only a very healthy dragon diet is good enough for 'his' son. She'll keep a grasp on Skyler at first, til most of his dizziness passes. But when he takes off to his dad, she relaxes a bit. Following along, she extends to cap, trying to use the boys distraction in order to pulls it over his curls, or just pass it to his daddy if squirming becomes too persistant. "Alright, enjoy lunch. And give Sori my best." She nods agreeably "Yep, Pumpkin gutting and apple pies. Got it. I'll be there." Flashing an amused wink, she then wiggles fingers to the young tot. "See you later Skyler. Bye Ka'el." Waving to the departing duo, she watches with a grin before continuing on further along the forest trail.

Ka'el chuckles and uses his free hand to wave at Kera. "I shall," he says of Sori. "Bye. Say bye, Skyler. Bye-bye," urges Ka'el, waving a hand. Skyler is still grinning, but .. oh, where is his friend going? Is playtime over? He knows that word! Bye bye is said /a lot/ in his life. "Buh!" he calls, flapping his hand. "Buh!" Ka'el grins proudly, as if the boy just recited the entire alphabet forward and backwards. He gives the toddler a snug, then heads off with him back towards the meadow and caverns beyond.

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