It's Raining Candidates

Xanadu Weyr - Forest

The trees grow thickly here, avians nesting in their branches and flitting about after insects. Flowers sprout up and speckle the ground between, the green of small plants and their blooms of bright saffron and cheeky rose that creep all the way up to the bases of the trees and adorn the fallen leaves and mulch of the forest floor. Those trees rise upward in their aged magnificence, gargantuan limbs casting often welcome shade, the general atmosphere and scent of the path is one of freshness and wild abandon.
A path winds its leisurely way through the trees, wide enough for wagons to pass. As it goes through into the forest, a number of other trails branch away, both more and less traveled. Many of them lead to private weyrs, but there's a few more trodden paths - notable among them a road to the feeding grounds, set against the western slopes.
The forest grows wilder the further north one goes, deep growth and ancient places, and the road does not extend far in that direction, instead turning toward the meadow. Just before it emerges, a trail veers off to the Firelizard Theatre.

It's spring, which means that it's not exactly wintry outside. Unfortunately, it's not summer, either, and the forest isn't as cleanly cleared of snow as the rest of the Weyr, seeing as it's not normally trampled by man feet. It is large and dark and more than a little creepy this late at night, with the star having long set and the moon peeking out to see what everyone's up to. News that this is the place Kyra was supposedly on her way to when she disappeared is validated by a simple brown bag sitting by a log near an unlit firepit, likely for cooking whatever she planned on bringing back. There's also, helpfully, only one set of footprints leading into the woods and, notably, none leading out.

To say that Keldan has gotten a bit concerned would be an understatement. Having plenty of his own chores to do, it wasn't until late in the day that he had started to wonder where Kyra was. And after asking around, and hearing just that she'd gone to the forest…hours prior, has the candidate already tramping his way through the forest. Dark? He doesn't care. At least he /is/ bundled against the colder weather, huddled in a jacket as he makes his way to that unused fire pit. A frown crosses the boy's face, toe giving a bit of a kick to the nearby log. Maybe she's /under/ it. Maybe, but it doesn't stop him from turning into the darkness to let out a yell. "Kyra!"

Amongst the small search party who took to the woods is S'ai, the Fortian visitor sporting a short sword on one hip and a glow basket in the other. As a search and rescue rider by normal trade, it was a duty he quickly volunteered to assist wit. "Stay close," He says over towards Keldan, warning but understandable in tone to his concerns. Against the cold his riding leathers are probably too warm, but at least the snow and muddy slush doesn't soak through his boots. "…is that her bag, if you recognize it?" He gestures towards the one by the log as they come across it.

It's dark and this is the forest that the headwoman is tromping through. Moreover, she has no Tromping Through the Forest type of clothes, so here she is in her dress shoes and expensive suit, which is unfortunate because there's… unmelted snow in under the trees, how lovely! Whyyyyyyy is she tromping through the forest? Whyyyyy aren't the AWLMs out here instead? (they're probably are some here somewhere) Darsce never comes out here, if she can help it! Only tonight, inexplicably, she is. That's what happens when a candidate goes missing, apparently and the duty roster the headwoman is responsible for drawing up has gone unchecked where the name 'Kyra' is listed. Joy of joys! So here she is holding, the handlight while sweeping the beam of light at every bush rustle and twig snap, tensed and ready to run for her life while muttering an unending and colorful stream of language under her breath. Most of the words are unintelligible, a few aren't: "…candidates…mutter…when I get my hands…mutter…get eaten…" There are calls for Kyra - that Darsce hears in the dark, but at the moment she doesn't know that there are actually two candidates out of bed. Tsk!

There's someone who might care if it's dark because dark usually means sleeping … or trying to. Maybe it's the distant sound of yelling that's pulled a bluerider out of hiding or Kiena's having another one of her restless nights (it's probably the latter). Certainly though, the sound of a name being called is as effective a lure as glowlight bobbing in the forests. Pulling her jacket more tightly around herself, Kiena begins to weave her way towards where Darsce is now tromping away and while S'ai and Keldan may be just barely spotted (or heard) elsewhere about, it's to the Headwoman Kiena drifts. "Lose one?" she mutters dryly and in grim humour. Also — boo! Kiena should know better than to just appear behind people (or just in general) without so much as an announcement before hand of her approach. Oops?

Sadly for Keldan, there's no response to his yelling and the footsteps become harder to follow as Kyra apparently climbs in and out of trees. At one point, they'll pass by an animal with an arrow sticking out of it, though, which is both good and bad news. Good news because it means they're on the trail, bad news because a hunter never leaves downed prey for very long without tying it up. So, Darsce can add that to the list of things to hate Kyra for later: slush, mud, snow, and probably having to carefully avoid blood on the ground. TImes are good.

Keldan glances over at S'ai a moment. There's frustration there, of course, even as he takes another look at the bag below on the ground. "It's hers, yeah. She hasn't been back to here from the look of it.." Which is worrying in and of itself. He starts on once again though, to follow those footsteps determinedly in the snow. "Let something try and get in the way out here.." He rubs gloved hands together, looking around just a bit though when those tracks become faint. He's not the hunter in the family, after all. There's not much he can do with — oh hey! Animal! As for staying close, Keldan promptly runs ahead the few steps to it, brows furrowing. "Damn it…"

S'ai lets Keldan lead, the boy would know his sister better than the Fortian, but he stays quite close to ensure no one else goes missing. He looks down to the fallen beast with a thin frown, pausing for a time to search around the site. "Be on the lookout for any other footprints… just in case she wasn't alone." And indeed, there's distant murmurs in the woods. He squints through the trees in the direction towards where Darsce and Kiena is, hoisting his glowbasket to try and cast more light.

At least Darsce is unarmed, unless you call ten polished and manicured nails weapons. Sadly, the only weapon Darsce knows how to use with skill is her tongue. So while she jumps, yelps and nearly drops that handlight, she doesn't slash Kiena with them. That's primarily because she's bobbling that handlight frantically (she'd make a juggler proud) while the thing bounces from hand to hand and the light dances erratically alllll over the place in a garish manner, first illuminating branches overhead, then her white face, a rock here, a… ACK dead animal with an arrow through it?! That's where her light stops, upon catching it finally. "What…is…that?!" There's no hating of candidates from her, however, there might be irritation. At least that's the visible, up front emotion as she answers with sharp sarcasm, "Well, I'm not out here for my health." And then her light gets shone on Kiena and she mutters, "Sorry. Hi. And yes. You can be my bodyguard while I look for her sorry hide." Which, seeing that animal, she is hopefully also still a living body in one. She's heading for those other voices - squish-slog-splash! "Find her yet?" This to, a flash of her light and a squint, S'ai and Keldan.

Kiena winces and then squints as the light Darsce is holding bobs all over the place and maybe she does fear those 'weapons' of the Headwoman as one arm lifts in a defensive manner until something at last is focused on. "That," she remarks dryly. "Is a very dead animal. Odd too that it's been left there." No, really? Smirking, the bluerider takes a few tentative steps forwards, careful not to get too close less she trample all over some sort of important key or sign. "Oh, you're not? Pity. Nighttime strolls can be very calming," Kiena fires right back at Darsce until the light is shined back on her and her grin turns into a bit of a grimace. Argh! Light. "Careful with that! And right, sure. So who's gone and lost their way…?" Because surely Darsce knows, right? Sarcasm aside, the bluerider does sober up and look ahead with concerned frown as she spots S'ai and Keldan again.

Apparently, the animal, which looks like a lapine of some nature, is not entirely, completely dead, as the light makes it give a sudden wet wheezing and a slight kick of its feet before it goes still again. Okay. NOW it's dead. Probably.

Keldan, more used to his sister's hunting practices than anyone, will probably note some of the telltale signs she's been through. There are marks on tree trunks that make a rough path, ensuring she'd be able to make her way back without having to hunt for it, even in the dark. Twine in a few places for hanging anything short-term. Everything is pretty by the books, if eerily abandoned, except for when his own light will wobble its way across some broken branches littering the snow and hanging precariously off a tree. This does lead to another actual trail, however, one that's spotted lightly with chilled gobs of blood and seems to involve more dragging than actual footsteps. It leads to a little rocky outcropping that would love to be a cave some day when it grows up, but for now just looks like a particularly thorny assortment of boulders.

The uproar and flailing light does serve to draw S'ai's attention to the right place and he frowns faintly at the noise. "…well, seems we're not the only ones out here." He murmurs towards Keldan before stepping closer into proper sight. "Well, pleasant evening for a stroll." He says to Kiena and Darsce, though his usual lightness is tainted by the undercurrents of worry. When the critter gives a last fitful kick, he can only grimace faintly and takes out the sword to ensure it's well and properly dead with a poke to the head. He looks back to the candidate then, spying the dribbled of red and broken branches. "Keldan, stay behind me." He looks then to Kiena, giving a gesture of his head in a 'shall we?' fashion.

Keldan might leap back away from the still twitching animal and kick snow at it. Maybe. At least he doesn't crawl right up and perch himself atop S'ai. Once he can /breathe/ again at least there's a huff of it, with a light getting flicked around and even up. He's /used/ to his sister being up in the trees, after all. "She would've shot from up there…somewhere, I guess. Higher up is better for it.." There's a blink though once the broken branches are spotted, looking away toward those other voices quickly. "She has to be here.. Just.." But S'ai seems..tense, and when the candidate looks again he's not far off in spotting the blood heading toward the…baby cave. Sadly, Keldan just isn't that good at taking direction when it comes to his sister's wellbeing. After just a moment of staring the boy simply bolts forward. Brains don't always operate all that well under pressure!

Calming, Kiena says and here's Darsce nearly hyper-ventilating! The headwoman's iceblue eyes turn a skeptical look Kiena-wards (not that her brother's weyrmate can see it with that light full in her face). "Oops!" she says and hastily redirects it at the carcass. Shudder! "Kyra. Candidate. Never checked in after chores." Oh and then the arrow-shot thing is wheezing and kicking?! Even briefly so, Darsce isn't trusting it to be dead, nope! "Aiiiieeee!" That's one small step for critter, one giant leap (backwards) for Darsce! Now she's somewhere behind Kiena, S'ai and Keldan, likely by a good ten feet. A woodsman she is not! So she's noticed none of the details Keldan has, not after seeing blood and carcasses. At least she hasn't gone tearing and gibbering from the forest. Yet. But she wants to!

Well Giroux is from Nerat after all, so one could perhaps forgive the fact that he looks like a puffed up pillow of himself with that many layers of clothing on. It's amazing he's managing to move that thing with so many layers, but hey… he sort of is and he comes up on behind Darsce. "Don't be scared, Headwoman Darsce." His voice is warm, if a bit teasing as he moves up towards her side. "I can protect you if need be." Aww, the gallant fuffball.

"Quite," Kiena replies quickly to S'ai, sensing the tenseness and worry in the bronzerider and biting her tongue on any further wry commenting. Plus, Darsce is filling her in and the bluerider nods. "And they think she came by this way? I'm gonna guess that she's knowledgeable then in huntin' at least if that's hers —" She'll never finish that sentence as Darsce is letting out that yell and the bluerider startles, only to swear loudly when S'ai steps in and finishes the poor creature off. "Okay. I take that back. It was almost very dead." she mutters, not at all squeamish by the turn of events. Her eyes then flick to S'ai and she nods. "Wish I'd brought my bow…" She's feeling naked with out it! She does, however, have her dagger and that'll serve well enough. A few steps have Kiena preparing to move in behind the Fortian bronzerider to follow, only to see Keldan bolt. "Hey — !" It doesn't look safe that way! Not with blood! Kiean will follow S'ai's lead and it's just Darsce's luck that Giroux arrives when he does. She's apparently forgotten her "bodyguard" duties!

In the small hollow that the rocks make, they'll find the missing candidate, quite heavily messed up. Kyra is either asleep or unconscious, wrapped tightly in a coat that would've been great for earlier in the day, but is now decidedly not as good as it could be. She has bruises, scrapes, and a few small cuts on her face and hands and one of her legs, well, doesn't look right. She's got that leg tied tightly in place, using her cache of arrows to keep it straight by bundling them up around it and tying it with some of that twine. She was clearly in the process of doing something else when either the cold, the pain, or possible blood loss got to her, as her hands are lying open on her lap with a second, smaller bag (the one she carries with her during hunting trips) open against her thigh. Her pants and coat are both torn, her hat is missing, and she just really looks like she's not having a great day. It doesn't help that, even with her brown skin, it's easy to see that she's pale.

Okay, this might be counted as gibbering when Darsce all but pushes Giroux ahead of her in her attempt to situate herself behind him too. "Protect nothing! You can be bait so I can run!" Later, when she's calmed down, she'll notice he's a candidate too, but not now. Now she's rather wild-eyed and glued to the spot while Keldan goes running ahead. Good. He can get eaten first. Kiena's question gets another stare. Did they think Kyra came this way? They must have, but there, thinking stopped altogether. Because if they thought, they wouldn't have sent Darsce out here! Shells, what was she thinking? Oh and now they're abandoning her?? Nowai! She's not getting stuck out here alone with wild animals! So she follows - giving that carcass as wide a berth as she dares without actually leaving the pool of light.

The bronzerider turns back around from Kiena to see Keldan bolting and a noisy sigh escapes S'ai. "Aaaannd he's running… awesome." Whelp! Settled that. He goes tromping off with long strides to catch up to the fleeing candidate, calling out, "If something eats you, do /not/ blame it on me." It's even said with a frustrated growl, but it's for naught. There's nothing to eat them, he sees as he comes up behind Keldan, just a girl in a very poor way. The sword is sheathed and he jerks a quick look over his shoulder towards the others. "Found her, she's hurt. Someone should run back, alert a healer we're coming. Looks like a broken leg, cuts. Keldan, we'll bring her out. Slowly, try not to jostle her in case she's got injuries we can't see, especially her neck and back." And should the candidate agree, they'll do just that.

Giroux looks over towards her as he laughs before he turns his attention back towards the front "Okay, okay." The young candidate grins as he looks around as he mentions hearing her. "Here." Giroux begins to strip out of his clothing, offering it upwards towards the people in the front. "If she's cold or hurt she'll need these. Wrap her up in them, they're warm." Almost immediately the little Nerat lad begins to shiver, but he supresses his teeth clattering with a strongly clenched jaw.

"Kyra!" Yelling to an unconscious girl probably has rather little effect. But Keldan does it all the same for a moment as he dashes right in, trying to get his sister's attention. When that proves…quite useless, he looks again at S'ai, trying at least to listen and not flail himself everywhere. "R..right. Right. It's…she's not heavy or anything it won't be hard.." At least the lifting part. Not jostling anything while moving around rocks and snow might prove..slightly challenging. But at least he works at helping with the limp form.

Darsce's got enough adrenalin to run, but she's not about to do that alone. Because there are things that will eat them, she's (rather ignorantly) sure of it - lions and tigers and bears, oh my! See folks, this is what city living will do to you! The Iernian is sticking close to the group, sidling up to peer over the shoulders of others. "How badly hurt?" she asks and then shuts up because a) she needs to catch her breath and get her heartrate down and b) Gixoux is apparently going skinnydipping. "That… 's enough," she says firmly when he's down to undershirt and shorts. Sure, she'll pass his coat, shirt and pants (and whatever else) forward. She's helpful like that.

"Let's just hope he doesn't fall down some hole or something either," Kiena grumbles while on the run behind S'ai but all thoughts of teasing and sarcastic banter are scrapped when they come across Kyra's hiding spot and find her there, pale and seriously injured. "Ah, shards and shells!" the bluerider swears again, grimacing and also wincing again when Keldan yells at the unconscious Candidate. "I'll have Ujinath bespeak Moncerath and have the word spread. We'll get a Healer here!" Probably a whole armada (or half of one)! Kiena's already backing up, only to find… clothes? … being offered forwards. "Right. Here." Those will be passed to S'ai or Keldan. She's a light to grab! She may as well help light things while the boys have their hands full. No good will come if they trip carrying Kyra. "Bad!" Is Kiena's distracted and unhelpful reply to Darsce. "She'll need a Healer. Already sent word. Sooner the better!"

Kyra is, happily, not a very large person. Even as dead weight, she's not going to be very hard to move; unfortunately, that lack of fat and size isn't doing her a lot of help in regards to keeping warm. Giroux's strip tease for the forest will probably assuage some of that. Not surprisingly, Keldan's yelling has no effect besides making them the target of… nothing, because this forest isn't super heavy on predators that yell towards brightly lit, yelling groups of manimals. Her small stature might actually make it harder NOT to jostle her, however, because it won't take much.

Giroux is hopping up and down on his feet, just in his small shirt and shorts. He's obviously cold and trying to not get that much colder as he keeps himself warm by doing some movement in place. He stops after a moment and shivers sharply, before he grunts and takes a deep breath and stands still, trying to not shiver again.

S'ai gives a nod to Kiena's words, taking shucking out of his own jacket in a hurry to lay it down with another few pieces before helping Keldan withdraw her so they can lay her down on the makeshift padding. Others are used to support her neck an the remainder to cover as much of her as possible. His normally cheery face is set in a grave look of concentration and it seems enough to age him years in just the shift of eyebrows. "…not perfect at all, but it'll do till help arrives." He mumbles while kneeling there in the spring funk.

Darsce isn't a healer, either, but she can be taught first aide (not that anyone's tried). Bad… oh that's not good and upon passing Giroux's clothes forward, shrugs out of her suitcoat and offers it over to either S'ai or Kiena. It'll probably be ruined beyond repair if Kyra's bleeding, but she's apparently unconcerned about it. And that's all she's sharing, thanks, keeping her blouse and skirt right where they belong - on her body. A sidelong glance goes to the hopping Giroux; she's cold too, but the only comment she makes is to Kiena and S'ai, "If she can be moved? I suggest we go before we all freeze to death."

Keldan stays down in the snow once they set Kyra down again, shrugging out of his own jacket as well. Plenty of things to drape and pad around the girl to keep her warm! And if it's cold, he's not really noticing it too much aside from the fog that billows out at each breath. Glances are given up and around, each a rapid movement before his attention flicks back to his sister once again. "We just.. Why can't we just carry her all the way out?"

"Darsce's got a point, S'ai and so does Keldan. We'd be best to move her out. This cold…" Is bad and Kiena's expression is growing all the more tense and grim the longer they linger out here. Her jacket isn't offered quite yet, though the bluerider will help in arranging the following sacrifices. Let's just hope her dagger won't have to be used on any of them! "You think you two… three?" She spies Giroux there at last and her brows furrow. "How'd you get out — never mind. Should be enough to move her? Darsce and I can keep your way lit." So much for escape!

"U…uss..use… l..long br…branches." Giroux says, stammering.. "T…ttie…tiee.. sh…shirts to b…branches." He yells towards the front of the gathering, looking to Kiena as she speaks to him. "M…mmm…make…a lill…litter!" He chatters away, the young man bounces up and down again, trying to get himself at least somewhat warm.

"Hey, you mentioned bringing a healer here." S'ai slants a look to Kiena, though it's not scolding. He looks then to Giroux, hearing his stammering and giving a nod. "Best option with what we have. Let's see what likely ones we have. Thankfully she shouldn't be too heavy for the branches."

And this is why Kiena is not Search and Rescue and simply a Smithcrafter! She at least meets S'ai's slanted look and smirks. "Did I? I said that I sent word. If I miscommunicated then sorry. I assumed she was being moved out… no matter… We should just GO!" And hurry at that! Hearing Giroux chattering, the bluerider sighs and shrugs out of her heavy riding jacket. "Here," she holds it out to him with a grimace. "Might be a bit snug but last thing we need is you catching your death of cold out here." And what about her? She'll just suck it up for now as she allows S'ai to take over and Darsce too, helping where she can or where she's told to do so.

Darsce's jacket is doomed to be shredded, isn't it? She'd be useless at cutting saplings, so, having just pulled one of her shapely fingers from the ear nearest to Giroux's shout, "I'll go get them." The healers, she means. "You can meet them on the way." And now to Giroux, she growls, "You. With me. You need to get out of the cold." If he doesn't move, she'll drag him by the ear, muttering under her breath the whole way back about the folly of candidates going alone into the woods and getting broken and losing their clothes and how there's curfew for a reason and..and…! She's also going to be doing paperwork tonight, sigh. A report that'll go to the Weyrleaders and then a stop down at the infirmary to see that Kyra got taken care of and yet another check of the dormitory to make sure that Giroux and Keldan are in their cots like good little candidates ought to be, before seeking the comfort of her own home and crying on Jethaniel's shoulder that surely she's being punished for something.

Giroux takes Kiena's jacket and shakes his head. "You're cc.cccold too." He still stammers but puts it on anyway before he turns and begins to hustle out with Darsce, ye of threatening ear pullings and such. He moves along with her. "Ccc..ccoulnd't… just…no…not do something.." He says to Darsce. "Ha..had ta help."

More muttering. And maybe some icy glares. That's all poor Giroux will get in response from our lovely Darsce. He did well, for a candidate who shouldn't have been out here in the first place. He probably helped save Kyra's life. Tomorrow, when she hands out the toothbrushes to him and Keldan for breaking curfew and tells them to scrub the barracks floors, she'll tell him so and sweetly too. Right now? She's not in the mood.

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