Pile Up

Cold Stone Hold - Mountain Prairie

Beyond the shielding barrier that is the Hold and her mountain, the sloping grass prairie has been allowed to flourish with little interruption. The occasional, wandering group of camalids dot the landscape, ducking in and out of visibility behind low-growing trees and prairie bushes. The vegetation grows in haphazard groups as the beasts of the field groom it in their own, private way, and some patches are thick and taller than the average man's thigh. Under the lash of the sun, the area smells strongly of warm earth and baking grass, the occasional bite of mountain life wafting in from further up the pass.

To the south and around the spine of the mountain, Coldstone Hold is clearly visible, its stones warming in the light of the sun whenever possible. To the north, the prairie finds itself penned in by an impressive strip of prime-evil forest, its leaves a vivid, emerald beacon in the daylight.

Somewhere above, a mountain bird's fierce, lonely cry drifts upon the wind, the solitary anthem of this place and her people.

While it's technically still early in the evening, the spine of the world has since begun blocking much of the evening's sunlight, leaving the mountains to stand as great and massive shadows against the backdrop of the sky. The occasional herd of animal can be seen ambling about, drowsy before their rest, but most have been gathered in closer to the hold, nestled in one of the many outlaying pens. Quiet shepherds play sleepy tunes on rude pipes of reed.

The evening meal having been eaten, Tenebrous and Moria have found themselves away from the hold, the glasscrafter eager to begin the search for her quarry and the healer eager…to be anywhere else but the hold.

Most camilids are skittish, and Cold Stone Hold's are no exception. Though it is quite a hike to the high pastures from the hold, Seryth is not in the skies to ferry her rider to find the healer and the glasscrafter. No, Thea has to make the hike, lest a dragon stampede the herds into an early death. What has transpired behind that office door between her brother and her father is an unknown to the goldrider. As they walk, she's doing the sisterly thing and trying to find out while her eyes scan the fields and edges of forest. "So did you go see Da?"

Moria is indeed eager to get out and about, and has been badgering Tenebrous with quiet questions about how to locate pillarwood. "What are the best places to look?" "What will it look like in it's native environment?" "How much can we take from any one plant without killing it?" And so forth. The glasscrafter seems to be oblivious to any reaction the healer has to her questions, and is cheerfully scanning the area for the plant.

Tharen turns a glare towards his sister, a look he's likely perfected from having it turned on him by their father over the turns. "Lets not go there Thee," he replies, stubbornly not sharing anything as they cross the pasture lands.

'Oh, Phylicia, my quiet, shy apprentice. Why have you abandoned me?' This is what's passing through Tenebrous' mind as he moves slowly through the fields. Eyes unfocused, hood low against the light, and to hide his facial expressions, he scans the ground, trying to listen to the world around him between chattering outbursts of the Glasscrafter. "The plant itself will have a thicker central stalk than you're used to seeing on the ferns that are kept in houses and weyrs. They'll usually be straight, as opposed to the boughed and flexible varieties that people normally associate with ferns. Not springy at all. Like green-wooded branches, rather than kindling though." He gestures to a low piece of scrubwood as he passes. "Leaves will be fuzzy and slender, like blades of grass. Try not to touch that fuzz too much. I suspect that will be a purer form of the ash you're looking for…and as the sample I gave you only yielded enough to cover a half-mark, we'll need all of it we can get…"

"That bad, huh?" Thea's ignoring that glare. They're on the same side of this battle for one, and for another the vast, panoramic and familiar tumble of mountains has restored a sense of deep peace to her. Her eyes drift from the pasture's edges to give him a side-glance, "Heard 'im shouting. He… didn't disown ya?" Is that… empathy in her tone? Never in front of others, but yes, it's there.

Moria nods as Tenebrous' answers are given, then pauses a moment, eyeing the plant he guestured to. "So they will be thick-stalked, stiff, and fuzzy, and I don't want to touch the fuzz?" she replies, confirming her understanding. "So where is the best place for us to look for this stuff?" She pauses again to close her eyes, tilting her head back and moving her lips silently. After several moments she offers, "I think we need about thirty stalks the size of what you brought me to provide enough coloring agent for the project, and have some left over in case of breakage or mistakes. It wouldn't hurt to gather more if we can find it, but that's the bare minimum I'd be comfortable with."

"Bad enough," Tharen agrees, "But not that bad," he adds at the mention of disowning. "Something about marks and the hall and not working and running off and making Ma worry." He wasn't exactly listening the whole time but it would have been easy enough to guess what might have been said anyway."

Tenebrous grunts once. "There's no way we'll find what we need out here tonight without a freak miracle, Glasscrafter. And as far as how much we can take from a single plant…We're pretty much going to be stripping the leaves themselves. My apprentice and I will stay behind after the rest of you leave to seed new plants. Pillarwood grows like fleas on a canine in dense areas of any wood, but there's no good sense in taking from her and not giving her something back." His ears twitch a moment later, and he turns, eyeing the two small figures closer to the hold. "We have company," he adds quietly.

Thea lets out a breath in relief, then grins and shoves at Tharen's shoulder with one hand. "Too bad!" Then she's off and running cackling as she goes, ducking through a fence and scrambling up the steep slope of the pasture towards where she's spotted a flash of color that cannot be camilid coat. Blue… it can only be something Moria is wearing. Herds have moved lower down and curled upon the ground for the night, so they aren't bothered by her reckless flight in their domain.

Moria is completely unaware of the goldrider bearing down on her as she converses with Tenebrous. "I wouldn't have it any other way. There is no reason to depopulate the forest of pillarwood. Thank you for thinking of that, and being willing to take the necessary steps to restore the plant population," she says. "Do you think we will be able to gather what we need within two days, or do you expect it to take longer? If it will be longer, I'll want to send what we have at the end of two days to Tresha so she can start preparing the plants for processing," she adds, kicking at a rock in her path.

"Hey!" If nothing else had alerted the crafters to the presence of Thea and Tharen his shout after her certainly should. "Get back here!" he's after his sister only seconds after she takes off into that sprint. Ducking through the fence he nearly stumbles as the slope changes a step before he was ready for it.

Tenebrous grunts once. "Two days? It depends on what we find." He shakes his head. "And how many more of those bloody state dinners I have to sit through," he mutters darkly. "Balls and branches, if we end up one stalk of Pillarwood short, I have very little doubt that the Lord Holder of this place has a stalk of something hidden up his backside. Maybe we'll get lucky…" Then there's more noise from behind them and he closes his eyes against the commotion. "Empty Egg, I never thought I'd miss home so much…"

Like that's gonna have her turning and surrendering! Tharen's so lucky his sister is all grown up and not pelting him with camelid dung right now. Thea slip-scrambles on hands and feet when she can manage it, uses a half-buried rock here, a log there to keep ahead of him as she navigates the slope. She's laughing as she looks back over her shoulder, a sight which spurs her onwards because she's not all that far ahead of him. So when she makes it over that last rise, thrashing through a bush, she nearly collides with the other pair and jerks to a stop, her arms windmilling and her body wavering with her sudden deceleration. It's a breathless, "Hi there!" and a silly grin plastered over her face.

Moria opens her mouth to answer Tenebrous when suddenly, there's a Thea in front of her! Yes, she really was paying no attention at all to Tharen's shout. She can be that inattentive sometimes. Moria stares at Thea in startlement for several seconds before she realizes her mouth is hanging open and closes it, only to open it again a second later. "Hello, Thea," she says, voice a bit odd from her startlement. "Need a hand?" And she's offering hand, and arm, for the other woman to grab for balance, if needed.

Tharen isn't all that far behind her, true, and her scrambling doesn't exactly let him catch up any more until she stops. But then, barreling through the brush he isn't privy to her sudden halt. He's not so quick to stop either, running smack into her, and by default likely Moria and Tenebrous as well before backstepping to catch his own balance. "Got you?"

Tenebrous has only a quiet smile for the newly arrived thea. Something about her current state of behavior pleases him a great deal. But that smile is short lived as Tharen blows out of the brush behind the Weyrwoman, and his eyes widen. "Look-" And then the train arrives. One foot plants behind him briefly before his body angles towards Moria and then Thea's flailing form crashes into him, and Tharon on top of her. Physics still works up at Coldstone, and Tenebrous' form is thrown sideway into Moria, all the while he's trying to hang onto Thea with one hand and prevent his own fall with the other.

Thea's reaching for Moria's arm when Tharen piles into her from behind, sending her into a tangle of glasscrafter-healer and it feels like she's going down? But if she is, then Tharen is too. One of her feet snakes out to hook around his ankle and, if she can manage it, jerk his foot out from under him. Mountain gals don't give up so easily. It's enough of an effort to throw her balance further into whoever she's smacked into, destabilizing the now-precarious balance of all. And yes, she's still laughing.

Moria had just started to turn toward Tenebrous - he did say 'look', after all - when she is slammed in to by not one, but three bodies. CRASH. THUMP. And Moriana is staring up at, well, not the sky, there's someone in the way. "Whaa?" Moria manages to gasp out, blinking up at… Tharen? Now how did that happen? Shaking her head to clear it, she starts pushing at the mound of people on top of her to clear her way out. But apparently she isn't moving fast enough, because a blur of bronze blinks into existance above the pile of people, screaming his distress at Moria's prone form.

Tharen might be going down, but at least he's managing to take Thea down too. Laughter echoes that of his sister until the confusion of the glasscrafter and the squawking of the bronze become distraction and he's trying to disentangle himself from the pile and offer a hand down. "Sorry," he mutters, though Thea gets a glance during which he makes sure to stick out his tongue.

Near the bottom of the pile, Tenebrous lays, one arm flung out to the side near a far-thrown satchel, and the other tightly wrapped around Thea's waist. The impact of the wall has blown the breath from his lungs in a clearly audible explosion of air. For a moment, his eyes are dazed, but a few blinks later, he's slowly looking around. "Come out of the woods, they said," he mumbles to himself. "You'll have fun, they said," he grunts. Then he's looking down at Thea, a slightly amused half-smile thrown her way. "I'd…ask if you were alright, but I think I broke your fall. Still…" HIs other arm swings over, resting a hand on her shoulder. "You ok?"

It's a very good thing that the flock is at the far lower end of the pasture right now because with all the racket and flailing, they'd be off en masse for parts unknown. Thea does her best to move off of Tenebrous, disentangle her legs and arms and offer Moria a push to get her up even as she's rolling her eyes back at Tharen and offering a laughing apology of her own. She blinks back at Tenebrous with a blush through the mess her hair is now and answers, "Yes?" And then she's struggling to her feet and brushing off. "So, did you guys find any of those weeds you were looking for?"

Moria accepts the hand up with a little flush on her features and a smile on her lips. "Mulgrave," she calls up to the bronze. "Hush!" She dusts herself off once before holding a hand out for the flit to light on. She smiles over at Thea. "No, actually. We haven't had much success, but the Journeyman has been telling me that this isn't exactly the best place to look for them either." She gestures further up the incline towards the tree line. "We'll probably start there tomorrow, after the sun's come up over the mountains."

Tenebrous coughs once, letting his eyes close for a moment amidst the further racket of Moria's firelizard before muttering, "Good," to Thea's affirmation of wellbeing. He lets Moria explain herself, happy to let someone else do the talking and take any attention from him. Once he's free and clear to move, he rolls slightly, and then gets a little wide-eyed. One hand begins patting his chest almost frantically before he reaches behind his head, and sighs in relief. Something is moved around under his shirt, and once he's adjusted it, he rolls again. The thrown satchel is retrieved and then he dusts himself off, still while the others speak.

"Oh, yah, that's probably wise." Thea's nodding to looking in daylight, watching as the journeywoman's bronze hovers. Shep hasn't done much but allow himself to be jostled as he rode her neck down in that tumble. The search Tenebrous does has her asking quietly, "Ya find it?" She shoots Tharen an approving look for helping Moria up, followed by a smirk that promises teasing later for doing so. "We should probably head back. These pastures aren't so easy to walk through in the dark." And who knows what they'll step in.

Moria almost looks dissapointed at the prospect of heading back, and she almost looks like she's going to protest, but there's logic to be had in Thea's statement, so she stills her objection. "That's probably the wise course of action. We can get an early start tomorrow and cover more ground that way once the other healer joins us." She looks at Tenebrous for confirmation.

Tenebrous pulls a small object out from under his shirt, not easily seen in the dimming light, and flashes a brief glance of it to Thea. "Thankfully," he murmurs, clear relief in his voice. "The Glasscrafter is right. Unless my apprentice has stumbled upon Coldstone Hold's secret cache of Pillarwood, we'll be able to cover more ground with the sun up." He gestures towards the keep at the low end of the incline, stepping into line at the rear of the column to keep stragglers in line.

Tharen does catch that look fro his sister and returns it with a smirk of his own. He's not the only one who's going to receive comment later by the look of it. "Should be able to make it back right on time," he notes sending his own glance at the lingering light in the sky.

Moria finally gets Mulgrave calmed down all the way, the bronze muttering his disrungtlement as he sidles up the woman's arm to her shoulder. "Well, at least we have a better idea of where to look now than we did when we got here," she says firmly. Mulgrave chirrups his agreement, settling on his haunches and gently grasping Moria's hair for balance. He scans the area intently and makes another disgruntled murmur as he fails to spot what he is looking for. "Oh, hush. You know Trina couldn't care less if I fell down," Moria tells the bronze with an irritated look. "Why I ever let you drag me to that hatching, I'll never know."

Thea nods at Moria, encouragingly "Really easier to identify the weed in daylight." She blinks at Tenebrous as he pulls the object from under his shirt, her question anxious, "It's not damaged?" but as he's sounding relieved, she turns and follows the others, giving Tharen an innocent look as she passes him. His comment, however has her halting abruptly, "Just in time? Please don't tell me he's waiting up?" Her tone is aggrieved, longsuffering… and it's only been a few hours back at home.

Tenebrous nods in reassurance to Thea as he tucks the object back in his shirt, then securely grips his satchel. Quietly, he follows the group back toward the hold, listening to the conversation without participating. He frequently glances about as they walk, checking the shadows and path with hooded eyes as he brings up the rear of the group. His gaze frequently tracks to Thea, but he jerks his eyes away each time he realizes he is watching her.

"Meant for the light," Tharen replies, sending a second glare towards Thea at the mention of their father. "Wouldn't put it past him though." If only he could be lucky enough for the old man to have retired for the evening. A glance back towards the crafters has him tossing a smile Moria's way before he bumps Thea to get her attention. "Might be more worried about your boyfriend being jealous.." he comments in a whispered aside meant only for her.

Thea's following Tharen, not really noticing what's going on behind her. "Oh, the light." His bump has her attention, "What boyfriend?" She's blinking at him in confusion. "I have a weyrmate, Tharen, not a boyfriend and he has nothing to be jealous of." She says it firmly with a flash in her eyes that he ought to recognize as one that is there when she is speaking the truth. "He's a friend."

Moria falls back to walk next to Tenebrous, oblivious to the searching and the looking that the man appears to be doing. "I don't know much about the Pillarwood beyond what you've told me. Does it grow in large clusters, like some other plants in the forest, or is it a more solitary plant?" She absently shifts Mulgrave to her other shoulder with a brush of your hand. "You don't need to hold on quite that hard," she gripes at him. "That's my hair."

Tenebrous takes a moment or two to register that Moria is even speaking, let alone to him, and he blinks several times, trying to catch his brain up to what she's saying. "Yes," he stammers. "The Pillarwood…" He shakes his head. "Yes, the Pillarwood grows in groups, usually of four or five. A few good-sized clumps of it should meet the requirements that you require for your project." His lips press together firmly when something catches his hears, but he continues without his tone changing. "We'll have to be careful that we don't knock any of the fuzz from the leaflets when we harvest them, but that shouldn't be too much trouble. I have several specimen bags with me that should make it an easy task."

Tharen shrugs. "Close enough." Boyfriend, weyrmate, same difference. Right? "But if you say so." He's not going to argue about it. Not now anyway. Closing in on the hold, "Hey Thee, I'm gonna check on something in the barn. I'll be in later."

Thea's frowning now in the semi-darkness as she walks beside Tharen. His words have her opening her mouth to do just that - argue. He's turning off towards the barn has her following. Someone is going to hear a word or two to the contrary. "Tharen, listen to me…" Her words fade off as she leaves the others behind.

Moria nods to what Tenebrous is saying. "It sounds like, as long as we can split up into groups, we shouldn't have trouble covering the ground in a day or two." She watches Thea and Tharen go off their own way and then says, "It seems like everyone's turning in for the night. I should probably do the same so that I can be up early tomorrow." She flashes Tenebrous a winning smile and then starts off to the Hold gates at a more brisk pace.

Tenebrous watches Thea and her brother as well, just shaking his head. When Moria talks of going to bed, he simply offers, "Sleep well, Glasscrafter." His pace slows as hers increases, and soon he stops all together, hands falling to his sides with a heavy sigh. "Oh, Fraille, I am a stranger in a strange land indeed…" He pulls his long coat a bit tighter against the chill that has begun to blow down from the mountains to the north and promptly turns again, heading back up the incline, and to the forest beyond.

Continues in What's it to You?

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