Discovery and Cover-Up

Xanadu Weyr - Oceleth's Anemone Garden
A clearing in the forest opens out into a sea of plants, anemone flowers to be exact, carpetting the land that leads to a small converted cottage. Jutting out from one side of the cottage is a low roof, high enough to allow a small-ish dragon to enter, wide enough to offer shelter to the same. The cottage itself is fairly plain, wooden construction with a slate roof, with a door that always seems to stick slightly open.

With a sevenday and then some having passed since the cry for help went up from the Trader's fleet, riders have been posted to the area to keep an eye out for any signs or clues, and the missing ship with some hope of it having taken shelter and reappearing. However, as each day has passed, those hopes have grown slimmer, and today was no different. However, for the lucky sweeps riders, something was found - unluckily, it was not a positive thing. When the riders reported to Niva, Nicca just happened to be there, waiting in the office, and excuses were quickly made - the young woman bound and determined to get a first hand view of it - it is news after all! And so, a note was hastily penned to Ashkeia, asking her to meet the reporters immediately at their cottage, while Nicca rushed home to meet O'ric, where the two have been hastily gathering the few things they'll need for this minor adventure.

Sadly for… the world… getting Oceleth ready is neither a quick task nor one accomplished without some annoyance on the part of his rider. As O'ric tries his best to get the brown strapped and ready to go, the brown in question wiggles around protesting the confinement and trying to find an excuse to move. As soon as the last buckle is fastened he moves, backing up from the pair and then darting off to run in a circle around his garden. O'ric, used to this oddity, simply stands and shakes his head with some amusement as the brown then proceeeds to eel his way in and out of his shelter three times before finally settling down inside to wait.

At some point Ashkeia obtained proper directions, Malaise not being entirely reliable with message deliveries if she gets distracted by a fat bug or a fatter fish, or perhaps just a shadow to 'hunt.' Having managed to extract herself from the clutches of her taskmaster — er, Journeyman — she eventually arrives at the clearing, bundled up against the winter temperature in a large jacket that makes her look even rounder than she already is. A striped blue and yellow knit hat with a jaunty bobble is pulled low over her ears, and that her mittens match is revealed when she frees a hand from her pocket to lift it in a wave as she draws within hailing distance. "Hey there Nicca, O'ric. What's going on?"

"Need you to sketch… Missing ship showed up." Nicca offers without preamble at the question from the glasscrafter, briefly glancing up from where she's tugging on her riding boots, having already shrugged on her heavy jacket. It seems that Oceleth's antics are merely a given at this point, though she does give the brown a curious look at he settles, offering him a hand for scritches should he come out. "If we can get it before anyone else…" She trails off, a wistful sigh escaping her as she glances towards the brownrider. "Maybe.. Maybe that'll help our case."
Oceleth's settling does not last long as Ashkeia arrives. New person! Sadly even this excitement cannot break with tradition and he moves out from his shelter a little, then back in, out a bit more, back in, and finally zips over to greet her — or loom, whichever description you prefer. O'ric's quiet, "He does that. Ignore him." is quickly followed by, "You have flown before haven't you? Actually… that might not help. Have you been in a boat before?"

Ashkeia's eyes are pulled reluctantly away from the odd brown so she can focus on Nicca. "It has? But—" Surely that should raise a hue and cry around the Weyr? "Ignore him?!" Derailed, the apprentice has backed up a couple steps and is blinking up at Oceleth warily. In a quieter, but still audible mutter, "Easy for you to say." Huffing a little, she keeps her gaze on the brown lest he suddenly take it in his head to pounce or something. "Never flown, nope. Took a ship to get here, though." Pause. "You don't expect me to get on another one, do you?"

"The sweep rider was just reporting to Mother, when I sent you the note. Knowing her, she'll sit and think about the best thing to do, for a bit." Nicca dismissing the worries of a cry being raised, instead she's reaching to Oceleth's side, giving him a little poke. "Oceleth.." She murmurs with a little giggle, before looking over her shoulder at O'ric, smirking for Ashkeia's confusion. "You'll uhm… You'll see." And then she's giving another glance, making sure they're all set to go.

"Noooooot exactly." O'ric replies, doing his best to look Happy!Cheerful! but mostly coming off as nervous. "It's just… you'll see." Almost without thinking he echoes Nicca's comment, but then adds over-brightly, "Let's get moving then, shall we? Ladies first!" Oceleth doesn't pounce, which is a good thing all round, what he does is back up slightly from Ashkeia and then crouch down, one leg bent to be used as a convenient step for mounting.

"Ah," is the simple response as Ashkeia nods for Nicca's first words. She rolls her shoulders a little, adjusting the lay of the strap of her stachel and pulling it to rest more behind herself than jutting off her hip. "I'm going to guess there'd be a lot more activity if it was more than just a ship that's turned up." She grimaces, before casting a very suspicious look at both of her 'employers.' "That was the most miserable trip of my life," she notes further of having had to travel by sea. So whatever it is she's going to see, she isn't looking all that enthusiastic about. With another narrow-eyed look that's all for O'ric, "Alright then. Here goes nothing." With a determined set to her jaw, she pauses to see if Nicca's going to clamber up first before moving to mount her self.

"It'll be.. fun." Nicca says with a little clearing of her throat, and a long look to O'ric as she tries to regain her composure - its not nice to laugh at the discomfort and misfortune of others, right? Right! "Then you've nothing to worry about!" She counters almost too cheerfully, letting Ashkeia climb up before she too is moving to settle upon the orange-brown hues of Oceleth's neck, moving with turns of practice. "From.. From what I heard, 'ship' might… be a bit of an exageration."

O'ric watches the girls as they mount, silently willing Oceleth to not twitch at the wrong time and throw either off. Thankfully the brown does behave, though for how long remains to be seen. It's only once both are settled that he mounts, taking time to make sure that both are securely strapped in before fixing himself — those who've flown before would quickly realise that there are extra straps attached. "You… might want to hold on. Tightly." It's perhaps not enough warning for what folllows, but it's certainly all that O'ric's willing to give for the moment, and it soon becomes apparent why it was needed as Oceleth launches — his flight path is far from level, the comparison to a ship not being far off the mark. A ship in a storm. He undulates his way higher until O'ric warns. "Dont' hold your breath. Count it. Three heartbeats and we should be out."

Nicca will just have to find it somewhere in her heart to forgive the black look Ashkeia tossed over her shoulder for 'fun,' the behavior of the couple not really doing anything to alleviate the apprentice's sudden doubts about this little venture. Once she's gotten settled she fusses some more with her satchel, trying to find a position for it to rest that doesn't have it jammed up her armpit. "Oh. That… doesn't sound very good at all. Was there—?" But she stops, shaking her head. "I guess we'll find out when we get there." Wherever 'there' is. But then O'ric's up and she has no idea if the amount of straps are normal or not. She does hold on though. Tightly. With a very strange sounding squeak as Oceleth takes off. Then she's just very, very silent.

Extra straps are definitely a plus, despite Nicca growing accustomed to Oceleth's.. unique style of flying over the last turn, one hand still curling around O'ric as he joins them. Sparing a long look over her shoulder as Ashkeia falls silent, Nicca offers her a reassuring smile, one hand reaching behind her to absently pat the glasscrafter's knee, leaning a bit as Oceleth bobs around as he spirals. And then, they're between - the cold blackness permeating everything for the count of three - and then where Xanadu was is now wilderness - The Rubicon River and Caspian Lake snaking beneath them, the Sea of Azov to the south, while cliffs climb either side, framing the water way. Further north than the chosen crossing point of the Trader ships, it seems that the missing vessel has indeed reappeared - Or at least portions of it, as some barrels seem to be floating on the surface while one mast, complete with sails is spread upon the surface of the water, and a portion of the deck can be seen beneath somewhat murky waters, the boat having been pushed and pulled into shallower water by the currents in the area. There's a small little gasp from Nicca, as the young woman leans to try and get a better look, while a hand goes to each of her companions in turn, pointing it out as if they wouldn't see it themselves.

Oceleth is ever helpful when it comes to seeing things below, after all his flight path does rather lend itself to seeing… everything around. And sometimes breakfast as well when people aren't used to him, or warned about him. The brown circles the area lazily, then wtih a little urging from O'ric he suddenly zips off towards the water, turns tightly to change direction, and eventually splashes down into the shallows. By the time they land O'ric's smile had morphed into more of a rictus grin as he turns tomake sure he still has both his passengers. "All okay?" he doesnt' leave any time for a denial, adding quickly, "Goodgood. Um… we can get off here I think."

Not fun, not fun, not fun! Ashkeia apparently forgot and held her breath once nothingness and bitter cold left her with nothing but the rat-race of her own thoughts. A deep, whooping inhalation is taken as soon as the world reappears, and it's not until Nicca's reach-round that she forces herself to crack open her eyes. Urk. The only way to describe the sound she makes as she claps a hand over her mouth, though whether that's due to the view of the disaster down below, or nausea, isn't clear. Strangled, "Off. Yes, please."

Nicca is rather distracted by the ship down below, paying far more attention to that then to the state of the young woman behind her - even if a misfire by said young woman may end with Nicca desperately in need of a new coat. However, as they're settling down to the shallows, she's waving a hand at Ashkeia, undoing some of the straps herself as she catches her expression, urging her to get down. "Go, go.." Nicca offer, giving a slightly guilty grin to O'ric, her hand resting on his back for a moment longer than necessary before she too is slipping down, hands going to her hips as she peers the short distance across the water. "Shards.." She murmurs softly, shaking her head. "So much for, uhm.. Finding anything good."

O'ric dismounts fairly quickly, trying his best to keep cheerful even though the though has sudenly occurred to him about managing to get back. Before he can really entertain thoughts of tying Ashkeia onto Oceleth's back he pushes it all from his mind and looks out towards the wreckage. "Your mother is not going to like this." Even Oceleth's pushing past him towards the shore goes unnoticed as rider stands, up to his knees in water, and stares. "She's really not going to like this." Behind them Oceleth finds a tree just above the shoreline and begins to circle it, brushing one side against it to scratch an itch.

Once safely on solid, stable, non-wobbly ground Ashkeia straightens up to her full height. If she wasn't so green around the gills (and not wearing that silly hat), she might even look imposing. As it is, her voice is shaking as she says, "If you'll excuse me, I'm going to get rid of breakfast. Over there." Bye! She heads off in the opposite direction of the wreckage at a lumbering run, splashing up to the shore and managing to put some distance between herself and her companions before tossing her cookies. Looovely. But at least it's not down the back of Nicca's jacket? She'll be able to focus upon the larger issue in just a couple minutes. Don't mind her. Really.

"That was… That was the ship. Mother's not the only one who's not going to like it." Nicca murmurs to O'ric as she shifts to stand at his side, leaning lightly against him, even as she tosses a sympathetic look in the direction that Ashkeia hastily excused herself, wincing just a little. "I don't find it that bad of a flight…" Nicca murmurs for O'ric's ears alone, shaking her head as she glances back at the wreckage. "I.. I don't suppose Oceleth's in the mood for a swim.. to see if there's anything left in it.."

O'ric watches as Ashkeia leaves, expression morphing from fixed grin to nervous again to shoulder-slumping guilt. "I should have warned her a little better." Even the brown himself pauses in his circling, looking over towards the glasscrafter and trying to understand what's going on. Most dragons are blessed with short memories, some are lucky enough to have been gifted the memory of a goldfish and oceleth is one of those. His staring doesn't last long and he quickly goes back to eeling between trees and generally enjoying himself. "We should go after her or something." We meaning Nicca if the nudge O'ric gives her is anything to judge by. "I'll see what i can do about him."

No they shouldn't. Just let her be miserable in what little privacy having her back turned allows. When Ashkeia rejoins the pair, she's pale but has that determined set to her jaw again. "What could have done damage like this? There wasn't a storm… was there?" Asked as she pulls off her mittens, shoving them into her jacket pocket so she can undo the buckles holding her satchel closed. Clearly, the only way to recover from getting bounced around is to focus intently on the job that made the misery necessary in the first place. "I'll outline the view from the air, then get some ground-view angles."

"Hey… Don't worry, Oz… It.. It had to happen at some point." Or so Nicca will continue to tell herself to avoid feeling overly guilty for the other woman's uncomfortable expereince. Turning towards Ashkeia, her reappearance stalls any attempt to move after her, nodding at the boat. "The other two, they.. weren't much better off.. Though they were both still at least floating. If.. If stuck on a sand bar counts as floating." She clears her throat a little, shaking her head. "There was nothing left, on board the others.." And then O'ric is giving a little nudge to see, urging him to see if the water-loving brown will do them a favor.

The only problem with a dragon strapped for flying is… well, frankly, the straps. O'ric does the sensible thing and moves to try to get Oceleth out of his straps and into the water, and consequently out of hitting range of Ashkeia - her arms could not possibly be that long. Her words make him pause though, "From the air? You want to go up again just now?" The straps are half off by this point, and Oceleth is already fidgetting.

"I don't think it does," Ashkeia replies to Nicca as she pulls out her sketch pad and pencil case, her voice subdued as she looks out over what portions of the wreckage can be seen on the surface. "I think generally sandbars sort of count as ground." Pencil out and sketch pad flipped open, she tips her head back and closes her eyes — only to snap them open again and glower over at O'ric. "No." Flatly. "No sharding way. I can sketch it from memory." With a grumpy little snort she shakes her head, adjusts her sketchpad to lay along her forearm, braced by her hand at the top and the crook of her elbow at the bottom, and begins to draw with swift, sure strokes. Not fancy, more like a visualization image; just enough detail to prompt her memory later.

Words are mouthed silently at Ashkeia as she turns away from her, hiding her face from view, Nicca's lips pursing for a moment with a roll of her eyes, before she's shaking her head a little and turning back to the 'artist' with a pleasant enough look - that is until she starts to glower at O'ric. "Memory it is.." Nicca says hurriedly, trying to defuse the situation, sneaking a peek over Ashkeia's arm before she's retreating to help O'ric with teh straps - or.. something of the sort.

O'ric does eventually manage a quiet, "Okay then." Followed by, "Um.. let me know if you need anything." Unstrapping is done, quickly and methodically, long practiced and almost without thinking too hard. His next comment is directed at Nicca, "I think she's mad at me." then suddenly "Incoming!" As soon as the last bit of strapping is released Oceleth makes a break for the water, eeling his way free of Nicca and O'ric, and then streaking past Ashkeia and into the water with a happy bugle and a rather large splash.

Ashkeia was brought her to draw, so that's what she's doing. Once the first sketch is done, she immediately flips to a clean page and starts anew, mouth pulled down into a frown as she glances from page to wreckage and back again. "Ack!" So much for that barrel looking like a barrel, as the apprentice starts at O'ric's shout of warning and then backpedals to give the brown plenty of room. "Shells!" Hand on her head, she squashes the bobble of her hat down flat, then looks down at her sketch with dismay and sighs. "Okay, starting again." Page flipped, pencil down.

"As long as she doesn't quit.." Nicca counters to O'ric, lingering near the brownrider, glancing curiously now and again at Ashkeia, watching her with al ittle smirk. "Besides, better mad than something else." Nicca's hand slips to Oz's elbow, even as she's scooting out of the way when Oceleth goes running, giggling as he goes. "Hopefully he won't sink the whole thing, again."

Oceleth dives under the water, surfaces again to let out another happy croon and then dives again. This time he's down for longer, and it's O'ric that's left to explain what's going on. "Lots of fish, he loves that." Almost absently he explains for Ashkeia's sake, "He won't eat them. Point blank refuses. He's a bit…" the enxt word might be 'odd' but it never actually makes it out of his mouth. "Um… he's not making too much sense. He says they're inside the ship, but that's not possible." He falls silent for a moment, trying to make sense of things, mouth slowly dropping open. "He's inside the shi… shards. We need to go back. That wasn't an accident." For some reason all the colour has drained from his face, and for once it's not Nicca's fault.

"If he sees anything interesting—" Ashkeia starts to call out, but then O'ric's speaking so she falls silent to listen. Her pencil never stops moving though, and least not until the end. "What? Are you saying this was an attack?" Attention pulled from the wreckage, she turns to look fully in the direction of Nicca and the brownrider, her alarm not just for the prospect of having to — gulp! — return to the Weyr.

Nicca giggles as she watchds Oceleth dive and surface, dive and-… As O'ric absently talks, she gently squeezes his elbow, just looking for contact as the brown and the glasscrafter do their work, and she's squeaking a little bit as he goes pale. "Shards, I thought.." And what Nicca thought is put on hold, as the young woman is hurriedly shaking her head and scooting towards the shore. "We.. We should go. Now." You know, just in case someone else happens to come looking.

"There is a shaffing big hole. In the… in…." O'ric has apparently lost the ability to form complete sentences, but movement still happens at least and he's grabbing for the straps. "We have to go. We have to go now. Comeoncomeon." Oceleth surfaces again, heading back to the shore a little dejected and not understanding why they have to leave so quickly when he hadn't had a chance to play with his friends yet. He barely stands still long enough to get the straps on. "Someone sank it. They sank it." Despite everything O'ric sounds stunned, not quite able to piece everything together. "We have to tell the Weyrleade… your mother." Lesser of two evils.

Ashkeia doesn't need to be told twice! She's angling to meet Nicca, shoving her sketchpad back into her satchel and fumbling to secure the cover flap closed as she walks, long legs covering the distance quickly. "Woah, woah. Freaking out isn't going to do anyone any good. This ship is destroyed and whoever did this got what they wanted. They're probably long gone. Please make sure those straps are secure?" Please please please. Though despite her trying to be the Voice of Calm, she isn't going to lallygag about mounting up and getting gone when it's time to do so.

Something is wrong if Niva has become the lesser of two evils, really, something is, but still Nicca is hurriedly agreeing with O'ric's assessment of the situation, hurriedly helping to get Oceleth strapped up while the brown happens to still be cooperating. "The other two were… damaged. But.." She shakes her head, starting to look a little queasy herself as she stands there, waiting just another moment before she's scooting right on up the brownrider's side, leaning to offer Ashkeia a hand of her own, eager to get out of there. Now.

O'ric tugs the straps, making sure everything's in place before hurrying the girls up onto Oceleth's back. "Here or not, I don't want to be here when people come looking and I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to tell Niva that we already know about this because when she finds out… maybe we should tell G'ene. No he already hates me. Upupup!" As soonas the girls are up this entreaty is repeated to Oceleth. For once the brown doesn't waste any time, though he does have to splash a fair bit until he manages to get up to speed to launch. This time there's no warning, just a blink between that brings them out circling above the Xanadu clearing.

Ashkeia? Is never going to fly with O'ric and Oceleth again. Not without being drugged, anyway. Shaken, sickened, soaked (from the knees down at least), she's going to be lucky if she manages to escape without catching a cold. Though at least on this return trip, not only is her tummy empty, but she's also far too preoccupied with what they discovered to really pay attention to the flight itself. Ground is good, and she'll wait until they've landed to ask, "Do you want me to come with you?" Though the 'please say no' might be detected in her voice.

"We'll.. We'll figure it out." Nicca's doing a fair bit of her own panicking, panicking that pauses only briefly as they slip between, before she's resuming her quiet mutters. "Shard, shards, shards.." She mutters, fingers pressed into O'ric's back as she thinks, eyeing the ground below them with a look of both dread and eagerness. Down, down, down!

Oceleth lands carefully right outside of the hatching grounds, the perfect place for finding Niva at least. "Okay, down." To Ashkeia he adds, "Please? I know you didn't get to draw much but you can show her? Tell her?" The brown stands still long enough for Nicca to dismount, but if either of the other two even make an attempt he moves, shuffling slightly to one side or the other. As Nicca runs off into the hatching grounds to stall Niva O'ric falls quiet, muttering beneath his breath though gaining in volume as he argues with Oceleth. "Bigger problems. Much bigger. Will you just let her get off."

Ashkeia's expression says all there is to say about her enthusiasm for tagging along to deliver this report. "If my Journeyman finds out…." Looking pained, she sighs and nods at O'ric. "All right, I'll come with. This is more important than getting shouted at for working with you, anyway. I—" Can't get down. That's obvious, what with all the shuffling. "Now what?! Does this beast of yours hate me, or something?" Wah!

"He's sorry you were sick." O'ric comments with a sigh. "There now I said it, will you just stand still." His own apology comes immediately after, "I promise I won't let your journeyman find out, can say that… I don't know. We'll think of something." His hands flap, brain working, "We'll tell him I was Searching you and then we had to go and…." He pauses, blinking, trying to figure out where that idea came from. A glance to Oceleth, then back at Ashkeia. "You'd need to actually swap knot for a bit though, but it would work. Maybe?"

"Oh." Ashkeia actually sounds a little meek for that single syllable, and is even brave enough to lean a little to look towards the brown's head. Awkwardly, she reaches to pat his hide above her knee. "That's okay. I probably should have said why I didn't like boats in the first place." With an 'is that okay or did I just make a fool of myself?' glance sent back over her shoulder to O'ric. "Pretend to be a Candidate?" she gapes at him, though keeps her voice at the volume of an incredulous hiss. "Shells, O'ric, you're going to get me banished from the Weyr! If we do this and anyone finds out…. Oh, shells. Shells, shells, shells!" Nicca apparently had a good thing going with that litany of cursing. It flows off the tongue so well.

O'ric shakes his head quickly, "Nobody'll find out. Just say yes, you're a candidate, we're done. He likes you anyway, and… he's never Searched anyone for real so we can say you're his first! And it's not like it's forever." Well except for that whole if you Impress part that he quickly glosses over. "And he's sort of attached to the idea now. You will do it, right?"

Ashkeia's clutching her head again, a small tuft of blue-and-yellow yarn bits sticking between her fingers where they curve over the bobble of her hat. "I—" Looking at the brownrider helplessly, her mouth keeps working even though sound isn't coming out any longer. "Shells!" she finally manages again. "I'm supposed to be starting my Journeyman's project. I have a proposal ready to submit, to do an entire wall's worth of etched windows. I can't… I can't just…." She slumps then, hands dragging her hat off her head and down over her face, hiding behind the wool for a few moments. When it lowers enough for her to peek back at O'ric above the ribbed band, her voice is muffled, "It's not that long really, though, is it? And I really don't want to be sent back to the Hall just because you published that thing about Janecin's wife…. Okay. Okay, I'll do it." Of course, she hasn't stopped to consider other things that go along with this, like chores. Too late now!

O'ric nods, "It's not that long at all, honestly. And it's not like you would be guaranteed to Impress or anything." And then she's saying yes and he nods, "So now it's not even a lie. Come on." He slips down, holding out a hand to catch Ashkeia should she need it. "I don't think Nicca can hold Niva much longer, and I'll get you settled after we report in." First candidate for Oceleth, a fact he very quickly broadcasts around the weyr.

Ashkeia snorts her derision for the thought of actually Impressing at the end of this farce. "Not a lie. Right." She lowers her hat the rest of the way, a smile meant to take any potential sting out of the dry observation. "Thanks," is for the hand down, a little wobbly even after the time spent cooling their heels on Oceleth's back. "Oh Faranth help me, Janecin's probably still going to hit the roof." Shaking her head, she jams her hat into her pocket and gestures for O'ric to lead the way. Once one trial is over, she can worry about the next one.

O'ric shakes his head, moving quickly towards the hatching grounds on the assumption that Nicca hasn't come back so it must be that way. "Blame the Weyrleader, his fault." Technically correct, but only technically. At the bottom of the stairs to the observation level he pauses and takes a deep breath. "Might be lucky, she might kill us first." And with that he heads up to face the wrath of Niva.

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