Luck be a Lady

Xanadu Weyr – Caverns

A massive cavern in it's own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as are the walls where numerous tapestries hang to provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt, leveled carefully but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.

The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area, however, is the one near the Kitchens where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. Its plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr and equally plain that on such occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are appropriated from all the other areas.

A big fireplace is set into the wall near the Kitchens as well, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

Exits lead off in all directions, a big archway the largest and that leading outside. Shallow stairs to the west lead to the offices and administration area while tunnels to the east lead to the infirmary, kitchen and resident's quarters. Southwards, a sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs and southwest is a wide tunnel, carefully roped off to avoid accidents.

What on earth is going on at Xanadu. While the morning had dawned chilly but bright, the weather rapidly got worse as the day went on. By lunchtime, there was a definate nip in the air. By dinnertime, the wind had picked up and at best could be called 'wintery'…and it's not even fully into winter yet. But worse, as Rukbat set upon Xanadu, the precipitation started. Nothing is sticking outside, but there's a distinct icy tinge to the stuff that is falling, even if it's not accumulating. The wind is howling like a hungry beast: inside, near the fire? It feels DIVINE…and Ocelara's drug her big old chair over closer to it…but despite the late hour, she's not knitting or spinning. She's got paperwork stacked up, along with a few smaller bits and pieces and small packages piled up here and there. And she's apparently absorbed in it too…so only the bright, suspicious eyes of her flit Behyndu watch the Caverns for her. People are hovering and huddling, here and there..having some nice, hot soup, or klah, or tea…and sharing complaints about the ill turn to the weather.

The offices, by now should be closed and locked for the evening and indeed all of the occupants are gone, save one. The Weyrwoman has been home to see that her little ones were bathed, gotten ready for bed, tucked in with kisses, and has returned to her work, much to the displeasure of her weyrmate. Bundled up in her long, fur-lined coat when she'd entered a few hours ago, she wanders out now without it, cheeks slightly flushed, strands of hair sticking to her temples and neck. Paper in hand, she makes straight for Ocelara. Well. Not straight. Meanders is more the reality, but she would beg to differ should anyone care to call attention to it. There's a bit of a wobble to her gait and she takes a sidestep now and then to keep on course.

Ocelara glances up, though there's no way she knew it was Thea…more likely? She caught the uneven gait…or her flit warned her. The little brown doesn't move a muscle, but his eyes are fiercely bright. She lifts her chin a bit, her expression slightly furrowed for a moment, before she sits up enough to offer a hand out. For the papers. "Are you feeling alright, Thea?"

The click of bootheels across stone is barely heard over the Cavern's bustle as Thea more or less heads Ocelera-wards. Oh she's got something on her mind, or did when she entered the room looking at the paper with some puzzlement. The expression changes somewhat as she walks, easily distracted apparently by one thing or another so that by the time she reaches the Headwoman, that outstretched hand is eyed, a smile tugs at her mouth and she reaches with her other hand to grasp it, gives it a shake while a laugh bubbles up. "Nice to meet you, Oce. I'm Thea." Paper? What paper?

Ocelara stares for a good long moment. The silence is almost deafening. But then she gently rises to her feet and her full height…not that she has a lot of that. She reaches to gently extract the paper from the addled Weyrwoman, "Is there something I can help you with, dear?" It's gentle, even measured, that question, as she takes Thea in…looking for signs of the obvious, like an overindulgence of alcohol.

"I don't think so?" This from Thea who is looking decidedly… happy. There are no fumes to be detected but she's leaning a little off-kilter. At the tug from her fingertips, her attention is directed downwards and she blinks. Her expression is back to her normal one. "Oh! Ah yes. Can you read that? I can't make any sense of it whatsoever. What sort of language is it written in anyway? Some Old Earth dialect or something?" The paper is printed in plain Pernese, but don't tell Thea that. It's gibberish. Really! With a blithe wave of her hand that sets her staggering, the Weyrwoman sits with a flump in Ocelara's vacated chair. The kindling creaks a protest.

Ocelara does look a little startled…my chair! But she takes it with a bit of well seasoned aplomb as she scans over it to ascertain what the issue is! "Yes, of course…It seems to be perfectly readable, if somewhat smudged." She tucks the paper into her pile, to deal with later." She pauses, and then glances at some of those who are watching. Wait. Why is there a decided preponderance of Xanadian bronze riders in here having klah…all at the same time? Nevermind, "Can I get you something? Some water, perhaps? A bit of klah?" Her lips purse, though she's ginger. Perhaps something's niggling at the back of her mind, some suspicion.

At least she didn't break it? No, that'll likely wait for a drunken brawl when neither of them are looking. Thea's reply to the paper is, "Sharding computers. I still think hand-" She stops right in the middle of that to stare towards the darkened clearing. "What? Oh…bother." Despite her words, there's a giggle as she says this and then without any explanation at all rises and reels her way out the entrance. She's left her coat behind in her office, but at least she's wearing her boots.

Ocelara doesn't stop herself…she pauses only long enough to grab her own thick, handspun shawl, and goes lightly paddling after the Senior…and her friend. As if she'd need to keep an eye on her or something. Alas…about a half dozen riders all seem to think that it's time to put their klah down as well…and follow after the pair of women in a very bad attempt to be 'casual'. Yeah. Casual. A little who's who of Xanadu, really. Z'van and Kha'dum. J'len and J'ril bump into one another, and then offer glares between themselves. C'ar follows close behind, and R'lie just saunters along, as if there were nothing abnormal about the whole thing. What with it being so cold…and windy…and late…perfectly normal!

What perfectly hideous weather out in the Feeding Grounds…despite their somewhat sheltered nature, the wind blows and howls, the icy not-quite-precipitation beats off of naked dragonhide and furry herdbeast alike. The moons are obscured by the clouds, lending very little light indeed!

Funny…as the Weyrwoman went by the Tavern, the door opened…and a couple more figures spilled out…and added to the trailing group of bronzeriders, who stalk after Thea like a pack of feral predators. Who cares about the blowing wind and cold…that's what riding leathers and machismo are for! M'shel offers one last joke that falls flat, with his apparent drinking companion…the foreigner of the lot wears an Istan knot, but falls in like all the rest!

Seryth , unlike some queens is in a VERY good mood when she glows - there's no snarling or snapping from her as bronze dragons approach the corral. The queen is hovering above the grounds already, circling over the milling herd, but chortling like it's Christmas morning back on Old Earth and she doesn't know which gift to open first. Carroling a greeting to them all, she dives and makes her first kill, carrying it outside the pens to blood.

Obviously her mood bleeds over into her lifemate, who is oblivious to the freezing wind as she wends her way towards the feeding grounds, not at all minding the sudden company but smiling as they join her, follow her or lead the way there. She's lost her usual wary proper way of carrying herself, instead reels like… yep. A drunkard. She reaches for an arm, any arm to lean on and oh hai! "I'm Thea." Smiiiile.

J'ril smiiiiiiles back winningly, and settles his arm a bit more comfortably, "Good evening, lovely! It's nice to see you out and about in this fine weather." This draws a SNORT of dry humor from Kha'dum, but the others all chuckle…deeply.

Around the edge of the feeding grounds, the eyes have arrived…bronzes landing despite the nasty weather, their red and lavendar eyes GLEAM in the darkness. Seryth's first kill is enough to call a start to the timeless rite. First one, then another, begin to leap from where they were crouching: the slaughter begins in draconic silence, and the shrieking of ewes and bucks.

Xanadu Weyr - Feeding Grounds

A large portion of the eastern edge of the meadow has been fenced off, the corralling on three sides is located on the rolling meadow, while the fourth is located a short way up on the eastern hills. Within the large corral are a variety of beasts - ovines, bovines, and wherries - milling around, though the appearance of a dragon may send them one way or the other to try and escape. A small pond is set near one corner of the enclosure, and at times it reflects the low, bordering mountains.

Just at the forest's edge set under the tree line is a guest weyr for use in mating flights, a simple cottage made of weathered planking and grey stones

It's not long before they arrive at the feeding grounds also, Thea's laughing questions aimed to her 'visitors' of where they are from and what has brought them to Xanadu only interrupted by under-her-breath comments to Seryth which sound more like back-and-forth banter than commands when she quips, "No, I am not into tripas, whatever that is" and "Yes, I like my steak rare, dear but tonight even /you/ can't have it raw." It's got enough mental oomph included that the queen only bloods, though her complaint sounds more petulant than irate. Her encouragement to those bronzes echoes off the distant hills as she takes another one down and begins to drain the carcass right there in the grounds.

One benighted brown actually dares settle in among the blooding bronzes and quickly finds himself a bit bullied by two of the Xanadian bronzes…like the scarred Istan bronze, he's an outsider, but Romth wastes no time displaying or wrangling…he's got one buck in his predator's jaws, and another caught, squeeling on his claws. His rider lingers a bit behind, though he did answer Thea's question about where he was from pleasantly enough. Oh right. He's the Istan delivery rider! Brings the Istan liquors and such. The circle forms, casually enough. Some of the bronzers try to joke with Thea…some STARE with an impolite intensity. Some watch the dragons as they dance in the winter darkness, blooding and displaying. Given the unholy hour, it's no surprise. Most of them are natives…Balroth, intimidating as he can seem, her own clutch sibling. His rider, in pariticular, watches with a gritty intensity, unwavering.

Any staring seems to go right over Thea's head although she does blink at Balroth's rider and smirk with a finger-waggle. "I'm sure your ma taught you never point or stare at people, didn't she?" But her attention is as fickle as a butterfly tonight and her glance falls on Xe'ter, her arm slips from J'ril's and she wavers as few steps towards the young Istan. "Hey I… know you! You brought the booze." That she didn't drink, even! Her composure is so informal she could be an old acquaintance as she practically lands on him, one hand grabbing his jacket to keep herself from falling on her face in the frozen mud, the other looping across his shoulders. With a giggle, "Sorry, scuse me." Her words are beginning to slur just a bit but she doesn't seem to mind. Oh tomorrow she will though!

In the pens, Seryth's color is richer, brighter and she makes a pretense at darting for another beast only to rise to the skies with a raucous chitter of dragon-laughter. Fooled you, fooled you, catch me if you can! Her mighty wings pump in the current whipping the naked treetops above Xanadu, sweeping her upwards at a high rate of speed.

She rises, bright even in the night, and all the darkness follows after her in a thundering clap of draconic wings; even the howling wind cannot hide the pursuit of nine suitors; eight truly worthy and one hoping beyond hope! They sort themselves quickly, with Z'van's Arieth in the lead, and Kha'dum's Balroth just behind. Xe'ter's Romth and J'len's Laseoth follow in their wake, whilst the brown befouls the chances of C'ar's Tenth and R'lie's Xandeth from the start. It seems as if M'she's Umbernoth, perhaps the eldest of the chasers, gets off to a slow start, still dragging a squealing herdbeast in his claws, but he quickly unemcumbers himself…and there's a distant but sickening THUD further down into the Meadow. That's going to be a mess to clean up!

All around, there's a tense, breathy sort of jostle on the parts of the bronzeriders…a few elbows lightly tossed, a few toes trod upon…and then the tense, eager WAIT, all eyes upon the seemingly intoxicated Thea.

Above in the night sky the wind serves to lend speed to the queen, her wings acting as sails, her body the ship that rides the current. Though it can help the others as well, they'll have to deal with her wing wash and that of the leaders, not that it can compare to the screaming gale they're flying though.

Thea is increasingly lost in the scenario above, but has enough presence of mind to push carefully off of Xe'ter's shoulder, smooth any wrinkles she might have put in his jacket and stagger to the fence where she leans, oblivious of the freezing night and the staring the others are doing.

They follow…like iron filings after a magnet…from a circle, to a close, and completely accidental windbreak…it might save her from being completely frozen by the time Seryth's had her say!

High above, it's quickly obvious that Umbernoth is simply outclassed, and early on…but the rest persevere against the storm; the brown labors, but then so does the lightly built Xandeth. High, higher still, until the fast moving scuds of the lowest clouds go zipping past like the frozen breaths of dragons long *between*, and still the males chase, their shapes indistiguishable from the night sky; only their falling-star eyes betray where they are to those who are not their lifemates. Arieth and Balroth continue to duel, wasting their breath and their intensity upon one another, letting the rest of the pelaton begin to catch up, a tightly knotted BUNCH of dragon flesh, joined together by the singular need to /catch/ Her, before the winter winds snatch her away.

The wind and the chase are exhilarating, the queen's instinct, energy and euphoria carries her far, enabling her to fold her wings and plummet, flaring them to surge up through the pack time and again, but what goes up must eventually come down and Seryth is certainly not going to stay up there forever. She's tiring, but unwilling to simply give in. Like a child overly-excited by a game of tag and tickle, she pushes herself onwards, ignoring the frost building up on her wingsails that is slowing her, making her misjudge her sweeping, flirting pass through the bunched pursuers. She sideswipes Balroth, flails to regain her track, her main wingjoint smacks into Arieth's tail and with a cry of pain, she twirls out of control, tumbling squarely into Romth's path.

Thea's head is thrown back against the top rail of the pens, eyes half open to the night sky seeing not the bronzers surrounding her but the clouds and intermittent starshine, be it the bronzes chasing her lifemate or the real thing. Oblivious to the icy air she might be right now, her hands and body are thoroughly chilled and she's beginning to tremble. Her sudden cry and Seryth's are one and her movements mimic the queen's as she lunges forward. Whether is is a hazy realization that she must make it over to that guest cottage over by the edge of the forest or an attempt to flee, unclear, for her movements are uncoordinated, legs likely stiff, but she does manage to make it out of the circle and stagger a few steps towards the cottage.

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