Xanadu Weyr - Training Grounds
A wide, grassy expanse, nestled into the gentle bowl shape where something's taken a bite out of the mountain. It's high above the level of the beach, and there's a good eastern view of the lake and a long path leading down to that sandy shore. Granite cliffs surround it on the other sides.
While much of the grounds are left in their natural state, one area has been trampled and trodden by enough feet that the grass struggles to grow. A running track circles a set of equipment - straw dummies with wooden frames, obstacles of various sizes and shapes, and targets for flaming, archery, and whatever else.
There's a dragon-sized opening to the south that leads to the cavernous weyrling barracks, and a smaller tunnel to the northeast - large enough for dragons newly emerged from the sands, but quickly outgrown by hatchlings who are then forced to take the long way around - at least, until they learn to spread their wings and fly. Between them in both position and size, a jagged crack in the stone leads to a dim cave with the sound of water.
Moncerath glides over the training grounds towards the beach, slowly descending as she veers away from the sandy path, back-winging a few times as her talon tipped paws extend toward the turf. Kera sways lightly in the saddle as the green waddles in the awkward way that dragons walk. The rider peers to the skies, watching some of the young dragons practicing their leaping take-offs and landings. Leaning down and rubs her own dragonmate's neck affectionately. They both seem to be a bit proud at the young weyrling dragons success. The short glides have become full fledged flying along the shoreline and back. The older green dragon is quite loaded down with bundles and Kera starts unlashing them from Moncerath's straps and tossing them to the ground.
Leikoirath is among those practicing. In fact, she's putting her own little twists on some of the exercises, doing a series of skips across the training grounds that have her touching down one paw and leaping off, then beating her wings once, then landing a paw again and jumping off again! It's a more efficient form of practice? Maybe? Or maybe it's just fun! Be that as it may, Jaya makes her do it properly on the way back, lifting off and flying for several wing beats before coming down to one single landing. « See? » the green declares. « I can do it. Many times, one time, I can do it all the times! » Jaya laughs, and tousles at Leikoirath's head with both hands. "I know you can, but that's why you have to practice! To show you can." She grins, and Leikoirath chirrups back to her, enjoying the moment while Moncerath lands. The older green gets their attention soon enough, for when Leiokoirath tilts her head and asks Jaya, « More? » her rider looks to Moncerath and Kera instead as she says, "Maybe," then waves to the AWLM.
Kera finishes by dropping Moncerath's packs to the ground, a good distance away from the things she off loaded first, then loosening her dragonmate's straps so the green can lounge comfortably. The greenling pair are spotted and she sends them a quick wave before starting to sort through the pile of supplies. "G'morning Weyrlings!" Kera is arranging things and stretching out a few sets of straps. There are whole herdbeast skin rolled neatly, from the tanner craft, bounded up and stacked in a pile and a couple of boxes that have the various implements of strap-making chaos. "How's your training coming along Jaya? Leikoirath is looking good up there." She gestures over her shoulder to the sky.
"Good morning!" Jaya calls back to Kera. Leikoirath bobs her head, bouncing a bit on her forepaws as she trills her own greeting. Jaya grins. "It's good! Or at least, I think so." She shrugs. "Lots of lessons, I thought I was done with learning holders and stuff! But I guess not." A laugh. "Leikoirath's doing real good," she adds with a scritch for her green. "She's almost figured out how to actually sneak up on the ovines… and she can usually catch them even if she doesn't, she's good at figuring out how they're going to turn. And she's having fun flying! It's even enough to keep her busy during classes sometimes… but I did tell her she can't do it without me or an older dragon supervising, at least not for now!"
Kera smiles as she stands back up, nodding to Jaya as she nudges a coil of strap with her boot. A little snort slips out at the weyrling's thoughts of holder issues being in the past. Her gaze shifts this way and that before lowering her voice so it doesn't carry across the water. "I still don't have every current, or past, Holders and Weyrleaders memorized." She could probably spout off every Master Healer living and long gone though. With a little grin, she turns her attention to the young green as Moncerath churls a soft greeting. "Her landings have been good? Any problems with her paws? Sometimes even an older dragon may get a talon caught up and snagged when taking down a beast. So be sure to tend to her talons during your bathing ritual. Just as important as checking her teeth after a meal."
Jaya breathes a small sigh of relief as Kera admits she doesn't have everything memorized. That means she doesn't have to either! She just has to squeak by… and that she can do. She nods, then turns to look at Leikoirath as the green becomes the subject of discussion and chirrups back to Moncerath. "Yeah… sometimes she sort of bounces a bit instead of just setting down… I mean, she hasn't hurt herself or something! But she likes to come in fast. So… we've been working on that." Jaya grins, then admits, "Sometimes I just let her bounce, though, 'cause she has fun with it and so… as long as she knows how to do it right when she has to, it seems like it's okay." Her eyes glance down to her dragon's paws. "She's had a few chips from her talons, but nothing that hurt. One of the dragonhealers showed me how to polish and trim them, so I've been doing that."
Kera doesn't seem very bothered at hearing of Leikoirath's bouncing method, her gaze drifts down to the young greenling's talons. "Good, smart to keep a file in your dragon's packs for emergency fixes." The mostly full grown green is given a good looking over as Kera walks around her. Whatever she's seeing or not seeing doesn't get spoken of as she snaps out of her thoughts and turns back to Jaya. "Good that she's not had any irritations. How many porcine or sheep is she hunting during a feeding now?" A fond smile for the young dragon as she cants her head to Jaya "She doesn't still box it out with them does she?" That memory of the little sheep pelting Leikoirath's snout will never fade.
Jaya nods to that suggestion, making a bit of a mental note. She pets down Lei's neck, then giggles, shaking her head. "No. She still doesn't always catch them, but now she's better at actually just missing and letting them go… or actually getting them and being quick at it." A smile. "Usually she eats one, but it's two if she's had a big day. Like, she'd probably eat two today… and every so often three, but there's a lot left for firelizard when she does that, so I make her wait a minute after two to make sure she's really truly that hungry."
Kera nods to Jaya "I suspect she's ready to take down herdbeast now. Next time she feeds, take her to the paddock where the older and slower animals have been set aside. Have her hunt one and wait a bit. If she's still hungry after say…a half candlemark, then send her to hunt a smaller beasty." Looking to the green again "With all the flying she's doing, not to mention even more to come, she'll be using more energy. So I don't think she'll be wasting much if she moves up to hunting the bigger beasties." An amused wink is flashed "Besides, between banded and wild flitters, most all bones get stripped clean in a very short time." She gestures for Jaya to follow to where she has stuff spread out all over a good portion of the ground. "Soon you'll both be taking to the skies. Excited about that?" Or terrified? her arched brow seems to ask the latter.
Jaya nods. "Okay!" she says, nodding again. "That makes sense." Leikoirath lifts her head and chirps, clearly interested in the prospect. "And yeah, Kori and Tachi would be happy if there was extra… not that I think there will be." She grins, and scritches down her dragon's neck before she nods. Jaya follows Kera over, with Leikoirath padding behind, and grins wide. "Yeah! I want to go flying with her, and she wants me to come with, I mean, she wants me with her whenever she can, but especially this so we can have fun together!"
Kera chuckles as Jaya seems to stumble over her words, and nods in understanding. "Glad that you are looking forward to it. Personally, I was this close to this close to being frightened witless. I had ridden a dragon a few times before. But for some reason, the thought of doing something wrong that could get her hurt…." Kera gestures towards Moncerath, who gives her rider an affectionate croon from where she lounge. "Well, thankfully I got my head on straight and did my Mon proud. You will too. With Leikoirath I mean. And soon!" The greenrider nod determinedly at that and gestures to the mass of straps: old and new, buckles, shiny and rusted. "Time to make your first set of straps Weyrling Jaya. You'll be making quite a few sets of straps for her over the coming turns. But before we get to that, have a good look at these. Strap care is very important. See where these are old, worn, crackled or frayed."
Jaya looks to Moncerath, then to Leikoirath. "I mean, I'm gonna be careful! But I think she can do it, and she'll do it great." She grins, looking back to Kera again, and bounces a little at that 'soon'. Exciting! But there are things to be done first, and among them are straps. "Oh! Like clothes for dragons." She giggles. "Well, sort of." Jaya crouches down for a closer look, peering at those straps curiously. "Like here?" she says, pointing to a worn part where the leather has turned thin on one. "Or here…" she adds, pointing out a crack on another part.
Kera nods and crouches down, rifling through the 'old' pile of straps and tugs one out. "Right, exactly. Dragon straps are more than just hide strips. They are stitched with padding on the dragonside, you'll notice here how the stitching has come part." Passing it to Jaya to look over, Kera reaches for a hand full of buckles. "And without buckles, there would be no way to put everything together. It's obvious to the eye that these rusted ones need to be turned into the smithy for melting back down. But they serve as a good visual for the lesson, for now." Shrugging, she drops the rusted ones back into a pile, reaching for one that looks to be in pretty good condition, or is it? "Now look at this one here, looks all nice and new doesn't it. Sometimes a buckle may look perfect, but on closer inspection you'll see that's it's damaged or flawed. Totally unsafe for use." As she talk, she pushed the center cross bar of the buckle and Jaya could see that it is actually busted with a hairline fracture. "Always be very aware of your dragon's flight gear."
Jaya nods, peering at those straps and buckles that Kera shows her. "Yeah, I mean, we can't just sew the straps right onto Lei, that'd be silly," she says, and giggles before looking closer at the one Kera shows her. "It does, yeah," she admits, then ohs! "I guess it's not." She frowns. "At least when something wrong with Leikoirath I can feel it… but I guess gear's just as important. Maybe even more important…" she says, and picks up one of the buckles to turn it over in her hands, looking at it. "How come we make them? I mean, if they're this important, shouldn't we be getting someone who's an expert at it to make them and do it right?"
Kera smirks at Jaya's joking suggestion of stitching the straps right to the dragon's hide. "I don't think the dragons will approve of that tactic." She shakes her head in amusement, holding her hands almost a foot apart "Can you imagine the size of needle that would be needed to pierce the straps AND the dragon's hide." A glance back towards Leikoirath, then to Moncerath. "We rely on the smithies to turn out sturdy buckles. We sorta have to since I know nothing about working metal with fire. But that's not the case with your dragonmates straps. Leikoirath is near enough grown like Moncerath. But you see how they are not the same size? Their girth is different. One is longer than the other. Mon's wings are much bigger than Lei's." Her wings are bigger than a small brown's actually. "Those are just a few of the differences that make it so each dragon needs straps custom cut and buckled to fit them perfectly."
"Awwww…" Jaya says, then grins. "I suppose not. We'll just have to do it the traditional way, then." Leikoirath chirps, sticking her head in, and Jaya gives her a scritch before nudging her head back out of the way. "I gotta see, and you don't have fingers to make your own straps," she says. Her attention goes back to Kera, and then she huhs, nodding as she looks back and forth between Moncerath and Leikoirath. "Kind of like how clothes are - they only fit okay when you get them out of the stores, but when you actually get them made just for you, they fit much better!" She grins, giving Lei another pat. "And I guess it'd be a big pain to try to make it adjustable all the ways it has to be… 'specially when it goes and wears out." She nods.
Kera smiles over to the young greenling when her curiosity has her snout creeping closer, then nudged back by her rider. Standing again, she tosses the straps and buckle bits back down and strolls over to the next pile of things she set out. In this case, rolled hides. Slicing the binding with her belt knife, Kera nudges the roll with a boot and sends it flattening out, mostly. "Sorta like that yea. It sounds like a huge task I know. But what you do is basically take apart the weyrling straps set that each of you have been getting used to putting on and off. Trace them out on the hide flats here, and then you use the buckles to fine tune the fit for your dragon." Kera points out the different items to be used and starts undoing buckles so old properly sized bits can be traced out.
Jaya nods. "Those sets don't quite fit right, anyhow. I mean, they're not bad - and I found one that fits better than the others… but it is a little loose some places, or else tight others." She grins. "I guess that's why we make them, isn't it? Like you said, all the dragons are a little different, so what works for one of them isn't gonna work for another one." She leans in, watching what Kera does, and nodding as she does. "Does it make a difference which kind of leather we use? I mean, are these all the same, or…?"
Kera nods with a pleased grin "Exactly. Once you've the right sized straps, it's just a matter of fine tuning the fit with buckles and cinching the straps." Crouching down by the flat hide, she reaches for the hide marker and tosses it to Jaya so she can start tracing out some straps. "I think these herdbeast hides are consider the most durable. Yea, these here are all herdbeast hides. The Tanners send a pretty steady supply. Good thing cause you're gonna get pretty good at whipping up a set of straps from Leikoirath. Even if her straps /appear/ perfectly fine, best to rotate your straps regularly. You know Leikoirath will never do anything to hurt you. But up there.." Kera points skywards "..these bits of hide and metal will keep you safe. Never forget that. And always check and double-check your straps. When you're settled into your own weyr, I suggest have several 'sets' on hand, even of they are not actually put together. Never hurts to have precut bits ready." She nods and looks among the supplies. "Now padding is something that can be a bit more forgiving in what is used. As long as it keeps the hide from rubbing your dragonmate's hide, that's what really matters."
Jaya nods, catching that marker and turning it over in her hands as she listens. "That makes sense," she says, then goes to get her own weyrling straps to lay them out. She nods. "It's not like Leikoirath hasn't done stuff by accident… and no, I don't blame you," she assures the concerned-looking dragon before resuming her tracing of straps. "But sometimes she's run too fast and not been able to stop." Back to the dragon - "I know, you're learning not to! It's all good!" A scritch for Lei, and then Jaya grins. "But when it's up in the air… yeah, the straps could go wrong and we could get hurt, and it'd be my fault for not getting them done right. So… I better do them right!" She applies herself to tracing out those pieces, laying them on the hide to try to use space efficiently. "I bet I can do it in random free time, too… like I did my robe when I was a candidate. 'Cause it's easy to do stuff like that and still listen and talk to people." She grins, then looks over at the padding materials as well. "That part I bet Lei can help with, since she's the one who'll know what rubs and what doesn't!"
Kera smiles over to Jaya as she starts making her first set of straps by herself. So what if Kera leans in to offers pointers here or there. A nod for Jaya's comments "Yea. After you make a couple of sets, you'll be able to do it no problem. And as for upkeep, I tend to look Mon's gear over thoroughly after bathing and oiling is done, when she's curled up snoozing. Change out strips or parts that I don't like the look over. The old hide parts can be used for other things. Oh, and keep track of your old buckles, metal being scarce an all, when you get a bunch of old or broken buckles, give them to the smithies to recycle. Same with anything else actually, busted hinges, snapped knifes…" Head dips forward in a lazy nod "True enough. Their hides are tough, but can still be scraped or rubbed badly. Sometimes a couple layers of old t-shirt material, or even old sheets can work as padding. As long as it protects here hide, that's all that really matters."
Advice totally doesn't count! It's Jaya's hands on the marker and hide, and it'll be her hands on cutter and awl and all the rest. This is just AWLM supervision! Even if there are moments when Kera makes suggestions that save Jaya from mistakes. It's still just advice. She nods. "Another thing to practice," she says, with a bit of a face that turns into a grin, and nods. "And you've already got the oil out then, too." Jaya grins, then hmms. "Or is it different oil? I mean, they're both hides, more or less, but… I dunno." But Kera should, which is why she's asking! Jaya continues working on these straps, and while she does, Leikoirath stretches out to rest her head on her paws and watch. Jaya nods about the metal. "Anything that can be melted down, right." She grins, then nods about the padding, looking to Lei. "Well, we'll find something, won't we?"
Kera scans the distance training grounds before peering back to Jaya and her work. "For cleaning, we use saddle soap, but it's the same oil really as you use on Lei." She flashes a little grin as Jaya ask her dragonmate about finding good padding. Jaya's work is meticulous, and Kera offers a couple more suggestions before the final cutting is done. Then the buckles are placed, straps shifted to fine tune the custom fit for Leikoirath. "Alright, now let's get these on her and make sure you've got the buckles adjusted properly." sliding her glance to the young Weyrling "Once we get her straps on, then maybe we'll have time for you to climb up, check out your /new/ view."
Jaya nods. "Just as long as it's not cooking oil, it's all good." She grins, working with Kera…'s advice and getting her straps together while Leikoirath watches the progress of her new attire. Jaya grins, nodding to Kera. "Yeah!" she says, standing up and lifting it with her, then pauses. Waaaait… "Does that mean we're going to be riding? Like, actually riding like actual dragon-riders?" She bounces, excited, and Leikoirath lifts her head as well, scrambling to her feet in an echo of her lifemate's excitement.
"Ground only! For now." She softens with an amused little wink. "But yes. And not /like/ a real dragonrider, cause you /ARE/ a dragonrider." She nods as if that settles that. "You need to get used to how she moves, granted, she'll move differently up there, but even so. Good for you both to start getting the feel of you being in her saddle." Saddle? There isn't any hide bit that resembles a saddle in anything Kera brought. "Now toss that bit there over her neck and work it back…buckle that.." She trails off as she watches, making sure things are going together properly. She walks around, reaching to tug a strap here or there. "Now, when you aren't riding about on the ground, or flying, I loosen Mon's girth strap, so she can be more comfortable when she lounges. or just move in general." Kera has to work to keep a huge grin off her face from the young greenling pairs antics. Particularly the bouncy green dragon.
"…oh," Jaya says for the ground-only. She's a little disappointed, sure, but still! Actual riding! Actual dragon-riding, like… oh. As a dragonrider! Her momentary concern turns into a bright grin as she nods. "Yeah! We need to work together, be a team, do all that kind of stuff." Jaya nods firmly, as if to convince the AWLM who brought up the whole idea in the first place, and grins. "Okay. So… stand still, Leikoirath." Challenging command, for the squirmy dragon! But she does, except for the bits where she ducks her head or shifts a wing in order to help get the gear on. There, and there, and… okay, loosen that strap, there's a reason Jaya put slack in it, and then… "Ha!" she says, and grins. "That looks good." Leikoirath croons as Jaya beams with pride, then turns her attention to Kera again to nod. "Does it bunch up if you do that, though? Like when you've got a frilly skirt and it lumps up under you…"
Kera reaches up and casually props her hand so it's hiding a very amused grin as Jaya sets about getting Leikoirath's straps on. For the most part, Kera doesn't interfere, Jaya will have to do this by herself practically every day. Better she get in the hang of it from the start. But the Awlm does step up to give the girth cinch a tug, having Jaya probe the strap with her own fingers. "Now feel the tension here, see how snug the strap is against her hide? This amount of tension will keep you in place and it won't be chafing back and forth as she moves." Kera will wait til the weyrling as seen for herself then lets the cinch go loose again for Jaya to tighten. "Bunch up, nono. You fold the material, or stack it to the thickness you need, then stitch into a padded strip. Then you'll stitch that onto your hides." Kera smiles "Obviously, we've skipped that part. But you've time a bit of time before you two go up, so you can get her straps squared away before then." Kera gives a little wink. "Now then, if you get it cinched snugly, then climb on up and settle into her saddle." The greenrider moves to lightly pat Leikoirath's foreleg and shoulder "She'll crouch to assist your mounting, and then step here and here."
Jaya tests that girth, then nods. She tightens it… tests it… hmms… tightens it a little more… tests it again… then nods. Leikoirath cranes her head around, peering at the straps on her, then chirps, doing an excited little dance about on her paws. Jaya laughs, and thumps her side playfully. "Come on, settle down, I've got to finish getting them done…" she reminds Leikoirath, who warbles and does so. Jaya checks over the rest of the straps, then nods. "Okay! She's good," she tells Kera, then grins and nods eagerly. Leikoirath wiggles from head to tail, then crouches down - first her forequarters, then her hind, and then she extends that one foreleg while her tail keeps on wiggling eagerly. Jaya takes a grip of the straps, a little tug to once more test their tightness, then… swings herself up and on! She's done this before on other dragons, of course, but never on hers. As she settles over Leikoirath's neck, Jaya beams wide, and throws her hands up for a cheer - then quickly lowers them to grab the straps as Leikoirath bounces up to her feet to prance about.
Kera laughs at the springy greenling and claps for Jaya when she cheers. Hands go up quickly when the dragon begins prancing about "Careful Leikoirath! It's a very exciting time I know. But you need to be mindful of everything around you, even now." She'll look to Jaya to push the point for her dragon. "You can ride around, on the ground, all you like now you two. Don't let me catch you even trying to get off the ground yet. Would not go well for a certain weyrling if that happened." An affectionately smack to a green-hided shoulder and she steps back again. "Go ahead and do a circuit around the grounds if ya want." Show her dragonrider self off to the Weyr some.
Leikoirath pauses, one forepaw lifted up mid-step as she peers first at Kera, then cranes her head up to peer at Jaya and warble an apologetic sort of whine. Jaya pats her neck, her grin turning to a serious look as she nods. "Yeah, Lei. You gotta warn me first. And then…" A glance to Kera, and then a grin. "…we can go anywhere you like. At least anywhere on the ground! But we can go… along the beach… or out to the woods… or… or anything! But if I fall off 'cause you surprise me, or you crash into something, I bet they'll make us not ride around anymore, 'cause we have to be careful like she said. Okay?" Leikoirath croons, arching her neck up and twisting in to sneak a lick to Jaya's face, then croons as she returns her head to a normal position and chirrups to Kera, bobbing her head a few times as if to say, "Got it, AWLMa'am!" Jaya grins, and nods. "Okay!" she says. "We'll be back for evening lessons!" Buuuut maybe not before then, because Leikoirath - once Jaya gives her a pat and mental permission - heads off at a prance that quickly turns into a bounding run as they get to open ground. Jaya doesn't seem to mind, though, laughing as Leikoirath carries her away to adventures!