Storm Falling

Xanadu Weyr - Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places.

The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the rock edifice where, high above on Xanadu's Star Stones, the ever-present watchdragon sits on the lonely peak. Directly south is the hatching arena, the large round complex taking up a large portion of the perimeter, a line of trees visible beyond it. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the infirmary is a human-sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Wandering Wherry Tavern. Tucked neatly under the arch, to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Petals and Pots Garden Shop'. Southwest lies cliffs where windows for the administrative offices have been cut. Underneath them are the entrances to the crafters complex while north and west along the cliff's base, a broad path leads to the feeding grounds. Due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr - the meadow, the forest beyond. At the far edge of the clearing, beside the trail leading to the forest sits a clocktower.

Rukbat set hours ago, though the Weyr for a time retained much of the warmth it had received during the day in the form of radiant solar energy. That warmth has, however, departed over the hours of evening and night. The rain has also been falling for hours, excess moisture in the clouds being released toward the ground. At first, it was merely cold rain, but the ground itself, and the structures upon it, have - since sunset - decreased in thermal energy, such that they have reached a level below the freezing point of water.

As such, when the rain encounters them, it undergoes a change in state. Freezing is an exothermic reaction; each drop of rain that encounters the chilled ground imparts some amount of kinetic energy to the molecules thereof, but the ground is a very large reaction mass, and the energy so imparted makes a negligible difference. The ensuing reaction is one wherein ice coats the surfaces of Xanadu.

Jethaniel is aware of this fact, both in specific and as a general knowledge of the states of matter and the transformations between them, as well as the nature of precipitation. He has encountered such circumstances before. He knows both the theory and practice - but knowledge is not the same as expertise, and even expertise may not be sufficient - though he has been applying what knowledge and skill he does have for some time.

The meteorological reports of the incoming storm required many tasks to be accomplished for purposes of preparedness. Jethaniel visited the herders to receive reports on their readiness, to see the cattle with their breath huffing against the cold air. The preparations appeared sufficient; the warmth of many bodies will be an aid there, though the most valuable breeding stock has been secured to shelter. There are risks, with a storm.

He checked in with the radio attendant, and made a few suggestions as to coordinational efforts with outlying areas. These systems are complex and inter-related; Weyr preparedness also involves regional concerns.

As such, after sending a few instructions toward the craft complex (Jethaniel is capable of delegating), he arranged with a Nebula rider for a visit to the power station. In past winters, there were issues with outages; he wished to ensure the system remained functional insofar as possible, and that the local crisis response system would be able to respond promptly.

Procedures at the station were not as desirable as he might have wished, and so Jethaniel spent some time in heated discussion and direction with the workers there before he considered the situation sufficiently resolved to return to Xanadu.

In the time he's been gone, the storm has worsened at Xanadu, though it's still relatively mild at the power station, and as such, Jethaniel is not aware of the changing conditions when he asks the posted dragon to arrange his ride back.

The rider, when one arrives, is a somewhat reckless one; perhaps he's impatient to get to his bed and out of the cold and sleet. Regardless of the motivation, the liftoff is a sharp one, the wingbeats swift through the sleet.

Darkness and stinging ice-rain, and then the greater darkness of between comes without warning, the chill far vaster than any mere ice. Their arrival at Xanadu is hardly an escape, for the wind is fiercer here, the precipitation heavier and flung stronger against protective coats and exposed faces.

The dragon is fortunate, directed by the watchdragon to a safe landing on a site that has seen sufficient usage to not be excessively iced. The friction of landings and liftoffs - or perhaps the radiant heat of the dragons themselves - has provided sufficient energy to maintain a liquid state to the rain. Jethaniel, given the abrupt dive that the dragon made to achieve that landing, is quite glad to depart.

The dragon lifts off again before Jethaniel is even out of her wingspan. This may be expeditious, as it ensures the sleet does not have a chance to settle on her, but it does send frigid chilled rain flinging at Jethaniel instead. It is likely ill-advised from a safety perspective, given the storm, but there is little opportunity to speak over the sound of wind and rain, so Jethaniel is silent. He hunches slightly until the wind passes, glancing up to the sky and the departing shadow of that dragon before proceeding.

Given the hour and the weather, he is alone in the clearing, nearer the caverns than the craft complex. It is cold, and wet, and he is tired… but he is aware he has not yet properly assessed the degree to which preparations have been made there. He gave instructions, but he does not know if they have been followed, and perhaps… perhaps after he has done that, he will be able to rest. He is aware it is unlikely, given the circumstances of the storm, but it is nevertheless useful as a self-motivational tactic.

It is dark out, the moons hidden behind the clouds and the precipitation obscuring the Weyr lights. This may be relevant to what happens next. The ice on the ground from that precipitation is assuredly also a factor, as - most likely - is Jethaniel's fatigue.

As with the landing spot the dragon used, a combination of body heat (filtered through Jethaniel's boots) and the friction of his steps imparts sufficient energy to cause some portion of the ice to melt. Unfortunately, in this case, the melting is incomplete. A small layer of liquid water between Jethaniel's boot and the ice creates a significant reduction in the coefficient of friction, and as such, a fairly small diagonal vector - due to the angle of the ground - has an unexpectedly large effect.

Jethaniel's leg twists as it slides out from under him, and he makes a surprised sound as he falls forward toward ground which the ice - while smooth - has not made any less rough. One of his hands - opposite the twisted leg - reaches up in an attempt to catch himself. This is partially successful, in that it halts his downward progress. There are, however, unintended consequences, of which the external signs are a wince and a small pained noise. Jethaniel drops to be lying on his forearm instead of supported through that wrist, and inhales as a green firelizard appears from between.

Stardust creels, an anxious tone as she begins to flutter about Jethaniel and crane her neck to peer at him.

"Ah… don't… I…" Jethaniel does not provide any complete sentences to his firelizard. As Stardust is not capable of the comprehension thereof, this fact, of itself, would not present a problem. It is, however, a reflection of a mental state which is sufficient to further agitate the small green.

Jethaniel brings his other arm beneath him, and begins to shift weight back onto his hands as a prelude to rising. This produces another wince and a rapid exhalation, and he instead pushes himself onto his side using the hand with which he did not break his fall. Stardust darts down against him, landing on his shoulder for a moment as her head nudges at Jethaniel's chest and up at his chin - but the firelizard is too concerned to remain stationary for long, and Jethaniel has only lifted a hand halfway toward her before she flits into the air once again, and he ceases the effort.

It would be advantageous if Stardust's agitation were to bring assistance. It is, however, a cold, wet night. While there are surely patrols somewhere, they are not here, and the firelizard is too distressed (and Jethaniel's focus too lacking) for her to effectively convey a message.

Lying on his side in the freezing rain, Jethaniel takes a deep breath. He follows it by another one, and closes his eyes briefly. His decision to cross the clearing alone was, perhaps, suboptimal. It has, however, been made.

His eyes open once again, meeting the staring orange ones of Stardust where she has chosen to perch, for a moment, on the ice in front of him.

"Careful," Jethaniel says, though whether it is an admonition for his firelizard or a reminder for himself is left ambiguous. A verbal reminder is unlikely to be effective in either case, and is - in one - too late for optimal efficacy.

He pushes himself slowly up to a seated position, using one hand but only the elbow of the arm with which he broke his fall. Once there, he pauses to catch his breath again, and Stardust flutters to his shoulder for a moment, rubbing her head against his jaw with quick motions before flitting off once again. Jethaniel takes another breath, and he begins to lift himself to his feet, a slow and cautious motion.

Despite his care, he winces as he puts pressure on one of those legs, adjusting his attempt to rise to put the majority of his weight on the other. He moves slowly, keeping a low center of gravity, and he is, eventually - it seems interminable from his personal perspective, but is of relatively brief duration from an external one - standing.

There is still no sign of a patrol. Jethaniel glances in the direction of the craft complex, then back to the caverns and - "Ah." The infirmary. That would, in fact, appear to be what he requires, as well as being the closest structure capable of providing shelter. Jethaniel takes another deep breath, then begins to move. He does so slowly; a half-step forward, followed by an easing of his other leg along the ice to bring them even again. He is, he discovers, capable of transferring weight onto the injured limb; it merely causes him pain, and as such, he attempts to do so no more than necessary to proceed.

Stardust remains in anxious motion around Jethaniel as he makes his way across the icy clearing. He does not have sufficient attention to calm her, as continuing in motion is requiring large amounts of focus. It is quite cold. Additionally, he hurts. Walking like this is painful, though the storm is effective at drowning out the half-voiced moans he makes. Perhaps the firelizard hears them, as he hears her anxious cries, but that's all.

However, he is nearly to the infirmary.


Xanadu Weyr - Infirmary
The infirmary here is intended for human care. It is spotless and smells of disinfectant, cots are lined up against one wall, a curtain can be pulled to give some privacy to the occupants of the cots if they so desire. A cabinet stands off against another wall, instruments and medications stored against when they will be needed. A couple of curtained off beds are used for examinations of patients and the treatment of minor injuries which won't require long term care. A desk with chair is just off of the doorway for the healer to sit and catch up on record keeping after a long days work.

Those within the infirmary have been briefed on the nature of the incoming weather. Winter brings a variety of precipitation to Xanadu, depending on the precise temperatures of both clouds and ground, and the healers should be familiar with them and the risks associated with each.

Nevertheless, people have been cautioned not to attempt the weather, and so when there is a thump against the door leading to the clearing, as of some relatively heavy object encountering it, the healers nearest it react with some amount of surprise.

The thud is followed by a rattling of the knob, as the person on the other side appears to be having some degree of difficulty in opening it. This is due to the fact that the knob has become partially coated by freezing rain, though what it is attributed to is another question. The healer on duty indicates for one of the apprentices to open it, and he starts toward it - then hesitates. Perhaps he is recalling some of the spooky stories told in the apprentice dorms?

As such, success in opening the door is achieved by Jethaniel, and it swings open to reveal him standing on the other side of it. Actually, standing may be a slight overstatement. He has a forearm against the doorframe, leaning in heavily, and his head is lowered - as if he had been directing his gaze very intently at that doorknob, and, once the situation became resolved, was slow to adapt.

The apprentice stares.

Jethaniel lifts his head, taking a deep (and slightly ragged) breath as he does so. He thus reveals both his identity and that he appears to have had a rather hard night. In addition to rumpled and sleet-soaked hair, there's a pinched look to his cheeks and a tightness to his forehead, as if he is being very intent on… something. Behind him, a green firelizard flits about, an encouraging chirp over one shoulder followed by an anxious creel over the other.

The apprentice is still staring, but one of the other healers comes forward, pushing past him. There's a quick interrogation, to which Jethaniel gives - at best - one word answers, and then the journeyman is informing him to stay right there while one of the cots on wheels is brought.

Jethaniel does as instructed, then pivots (on his good foot) and collapses onto the cot. It's wheeled back by the apprentice, who mutters something about how the healer will be right with him and get undressed before hurrying away.

It's the apprentice's first night on the job, but he's heard stories from the other apprentices about what administrative figures here are like. He wants to hide.

Jethaniel wants, at first, simply to not move. His ankle is throbbing painfully, somehow feeling worse now that he's no longer on it. Stardust lands next to his pillow, with an anxious creel as she searches Jethaniel's mind for something, anything she can do - then finds it, in the form of a stray thought revealing another of Jethaniel's desires.

Stardust vanishes between. Jethaniel remains where he is.

Continues in Healer Knot Required

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License