Plans for Plants

Xanadu Weyr – Clearing

A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a this and sharp border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.

The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the mountain where, high above, Xanadu's Star Stones and the ever present watchdragon sit on a lonely peak. Directly south is a massive tunnel, fully wide enough for even the largest dragon to fly down. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the Caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the Infirmary is a human sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Tavern. Southwest lies the low ledges currently belonging to Xanadu's queens while north and west a broad path cut by the side of the cliff leads to the Feeding Grounds and due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr.

Thea has sent a message to the barracks asking for any candidates who are not busy and specifying they please wear summer clothing that they'd use for stables or gardening-type work and boots. Off to one side, out of the way of people needing to get by, Thea waits beside Seryth, who is harnessed with the extra passenger straps today. It's just past the noon meal in Xanadu and while most folks are finishing up lunch, others are heading in for a late bite, planning to catch the serving tables before the meal is put away, so there's a steady flow of traffic through the clearing at the moment. The young queen is crouched with eyes whirling a green-hued pleasure, tailtip twitching as she serenely anticipates… something in her usual calm manner. Her rider is double-checking straps holding carrynets, giving a one-handed tug to straps here and there and generally seems satisfied. Her other arm is full - she's got several wadded up old flight jackets crammed under her arm with helmets, and goggles dangling by the straps from her fingers - in fact, she's trying to carry too much. This seems to be a habit with her.

Natali's glad to have escaped the morning's kidlet watching with her sanity intact. Maybe she got all the good quiet kids or something, but the trader lass was definitely no nanny. Still, she's emerging from the candidate barracks, having eaten earlier, and wearing a pair of pants — clothing that Nash had given her — sans firelizards and grinning a little in anticipation of whatever expectant adventure might be in the offering. Pausing by Seryth, Natali bobs a quick hello to the young gold, and then looks towards her rider. "Need a help with those?" she asks of Thea, smiling slightly at her best friend's stepmother. "Could take some of that off your hands." she nods over at the jackets and goggles.

e-on had been busy in chores through the morning, but had enough time to run back to the barracks to quickly change his clothes. Summer clothing, though with such attire in this cold area right now — yeah, Relion is hurrying, nearly top speed, out to the platform, due to the chill from dressing down in this cold place; the bite of the wind in through the clearing isn't particularly helping matters any. However, spotting Thea he revs up an easy smile, and heads her way, cheeks and hands reddened from the chill. "Good afternoon," Relion says to the gold, slowing to stop near Natali, feeling giant and ungainly compared to the two women. Hopefully if one of those jackets was meant for him, it won't be too terribly small.

Seryth observes the pair of candidates with bright interest, rumbling a greeting as she curves her neck around to watch them and keep her rider in sight. Thea is just rounding the front of the queen, ducking under her neck and giving the neck-collar a tweak and in the process drops a pair of goggles just as Natali speaks. "Oh hi, Natili!" She's pleased to see that she is among the ones coming if the warmth dancing in her ice-green eyes is anything to go by. Relion is spotted next and yes, it is cold, so she leaves the goggles lay and strides forward towards the pair briskly, "Please, take these-" she offers over the jackets so they can both go through them, "-one of these ought to fit. We'll just leave the rest by the cavern entrance. Gloves are in the pockets." She retains the goggles and helmets for the time being, tacks on a cheerful, "Thanks for coming. I'm Thea," for Relion's benefit accompanied by a smile of warm appreciation for their help.

Natali giggles a little, looking up at the gold dragon with curious interest before she smiles warmly at Seryth. "Hello," she remarks to the gold, "do you like your nose rubbed?" This question is rhetorical, of course, since she isn't expecting a reply at all. When Thea drops the goggles, the trader girl can't help but chuckle then. "Must be like one of those juggling acts my cousin always put on when our caravan would stop at a hold," she observes, "although I don't think he tried to juggle jackets or goggles." She reaches for one of the offered jackets, trying it on and finding the fit was certainly to her approval. "This fits," she declares, "and I feel warmer already." Especially since summer clothing wasn't really that great when being worn in the middle of winter. Reaching into the pockets as Thea indicated, the girl finds the gloves, drawing them on and wiggling her fingers.

"Great," Relion says in relief, accepting the largest of the jackets available, turning it around properly to slide into it, passing his hands down the garment, slipping them into the pockets to find the gloves as described, accidentally dropping one as he pulls the other on, bending to snare it. As well as the goggles that nobody rescued that fell off of Thea's pile, checking to see if they're damaged. "Relion," he introduces himself with a smooth smile and brief nod to Thea. "Here, I'll take the extras to the entrance," Relion offers to the rest of the jackets, to clear them out of the way, with a polite, gentlemanly cock of head.

Rhetorical or not, perhaps the question is passed on from rider to dragon, for the gold dips her head closer to Natali with a purring croon as an affirmative. "She says Taozyuth tells her you give some good muzzle-rubs," translates the junior with a twinkle and a mischievous quirk to the corners of her lips. She waits while the pair don jackets, then offers over the goggles and helmets so they can choose from them. "It may be like that, Natali. All I know is it's easier than juggling babies." This, for some reason draws bright amusement to her smile, which widens as Relion takes the rest of the jackets. "Thanks, Relion and well-met. When you are both ready? We'll mount up." And still no mention of where they're going, though she does say over her shoulder as she turns to Seryth just prior to hauling herself up, "We'll be doing some digging."

"He really likes them," Natali pipes up with girlish glee as she lifts her gloved hand, pauses and frowns, before she yanks the glove off again and offers her hand towards the gold again, in case Seryth did indeed want a muzzle rub. "My cousin never tried to juggle no babies either," she remarks to the junior weyrwoman before she nods, moving her hand back just a little. Maybe there would be time for muzzle rubs later. Checking to make sure her jacket is fastened snugly, the girl tilts her head at the queen dragon and then up towards her rider. "Digging?" she asks curiously. "Maybe we'll find treasure!" That would be the hope — a chance for adventure — rather than digging up … say, tubers or something. Jamming her glove back on, she waits for the necessary assistance to haul herself aboard.

Relion deposits the extra jackets— and then helmets and goggles as needed, seeming to be just fine with this carting back and forth of items. He dangles one helmet over a wrist, stopping to rake his hands back through his wavy, unruly coppery red hair, and ties it securely in the back to keep his vision clear. So, once he's selected his own goggles as well and gotten squared away, playfully salutes against the goggles at his forehead to Thea's thank-you, and carefully moves to mount up, following to the opposite side of where Natali is situating. "….Digging," Relion asks blankly in echo. "Literal digging?" he wonders. He chuckles a little at Natali's excitement. He doesn't seem annoyed or disheartened by the idea of moving soil; he's just… clarifying, actually.

If Seryth is disappointed at not having her muzzle rub now, she merely whuffs a warm breath over Natali and churrs encouragingly before deepening her crouch and lifting her wings while everyone gets seated. "I'm sure he does!" Thea replies still with that amusement rippling her tone as she settles, clips herself in then offers the long leather line down, leaning to offer a hand up and a swing behind her should either of them need it. When both candidates are settled, she clips them in, flickers a glance at there headgear and nods, satisfied, before pulling her own goggles down over her eyes which are glimmering in merriment at the pair. She answers Relion first, "Yep, literal digging! And we might just find something of interest, Natali. Hang on guys!"


Morning's mist settles, an ethereal cloak upon this slender gold's shoulders, the first pale rays of Rukbat casting their golden shimmer over her form. Sunspots dance upon her delicate muzzle, spots of richer metallic gold speckling the hide between faceted eyes, fading out over each gently rounded headknob. Ridges remain in shadow, each gently rounded shape like a distant hill on the horizon, hints of lilac darkening the curves of the creamy-golden line upon her back, following the curve of her lean tail to the very tip, a tip dipped in dull amber. The same dull amber speckles her dainty talons, stretching upwards to twine like armlets around each limb, spreading outwards across her smooth stomach. Silver and gold vapors settle upon the pale membranes of her wings, spread between the shadowy spars that arch outwards - untouched by the morning's pale light. As if a gentle rain has fallen upon her back, cream flows into gold flows into silver, colors mingling effortlessly as if a celestial watcher has touched her very being.
Wherhide straps, dyed to a honeyed tone and polished to a glistening shine rival her hide's brilliance. Brass buckles and grommets gleam in the light and add a musical tinkle whenever Seryth moves.

Seryth leaps aloft, her huge golden wings pump powerful downsweeps several times, carrying them high above Xanadu. The late-winter topography can be seen spread below them in the dreary brown and grey of dead grass and leafless trees under leaden skies. "Going Between!" is Thea's warning a breath before they transfer. And when they emerge the contrast is stunning. They're enveloped in balmy warmth over a turquoise sea a-sparkle under a tropical sun that sets the verdant island below in emerald hues. Their descent is a sweeping one, a wide banking turn before they descend to skim the waters and touch down on the pristine white beach.


Lost Island - Sugar Beach

Palm trees shade the fine-grained, pristine white sand, making them cool to the touch even when Rukbat is at its peak. Gentle waves from the sheltered bay lap the sand at water's edge. Crystal clear at the shoreline, the waters deepen to aqua then a rich azure in the cove's center. Further out, rolling billows break with a muted roar upon a reef of smooth volcanic rock that protects the cove, keeping the waters of the cove tranquil.

On either side the sand stretches to curve out of sight, flanked on one side by thick jungle, the other by the sea. Someone has tied a woven rope hammock wide enough for two in the shade of the palm trees and just a few steps from a rock fire pit. Nearby there is a path that disappears into the undergrowth.

Nose scritching will have to wait. Natali scrambles aboard with aid of the junior's hand as well as those long line straps, somewhat awkward with it, no practiced passenger is she, but once she's settled, she's clinging tight to the riding straps as the queen takes to the air. Breath is held somewhat in anticipation, until at last they emerge, her exclaimation of glee a crow of triumph. "Wow!" Natali sounds quite intrigued by the sights below. "It's warm. And sunny." Her gaze travels down to verdant island below, and the waters of glorious cerulean hue. "So pretty." The landing is noted, the trader lass dismounting once allowed and moving to offer her hand to Seryth again, yanking her gloves off and shedding jacket and helmet with a sigh of bliss. "It's warm, isn't it?" The island is surveyed. "Is there treasure here? Is that what's interesting?"

Relion dislikes Between… like, well, everyone else. He tenses for it, counting loudly in his head through the between, and then relaxing immediately, visably, as they come out of it. And thus notices the beautiful tropical landscape. "Where is this?" Relion asks, his tone of a similar pleasure to Natali's as they land, patient, waiting for Natali to disembark first before his own, though he sheds the goggles, gloves and jacket soon enough due to the warmth of the beach.

"Somewhere on the Southern Sea," is the cryptic answer as the young queen settles onto her belly. Thea wastes no time unclipping everyone and once again offers a hand down for the others, allowing both passengers to dismount first. Her goggles, helmet, gloves and jacket are swiftly shed, tucked under one of the straps for safekeeping, fingers run through her heavy, dark hair to lift it from where it's been flattened to her scalp. That done, she unstraps three shovels, leans over, calls "Catch!" and waits until she's made eye contact with Relion before she tosses them for him to catch. Empty cargo nets are next to hit the beach and a large back pack lowered carefully by sliding it down until it rests on the sand and then… the junior grabs the long flight strap and dismounts by kicking a leg over the gold's back and pushes of in a swing-round that takes her to a hop-stumble landing on the sand. "There could be," she answers Natali with another little grin. "But right now we're going to dig up plants."

Natali stays well clear of shovels tossed from dragonback. She'll let Relion catch those, thank you very much. He was bigger, for one thing. But she does move forward to retrieve the cargo nets once they're on the sand, hauling them a little ways away from the gold to spread them out a little. "Plants?" she looks over at Thea in a bit of surprise, shoulders slumping just a little before she takes a breath, and squares them boldly. "And after that, we could look for treasure, right?" Although it probably would be terribly mean to go around digging holes all over the island. "I guess you've been here before?" she asks of the Xanadu junior. "What kind of plants are we digging up?"

Relion looks over quickly to Thea as she calls to him, and nods once, hands lifted. He catches each of the shovels in succession, and then gathers them up against a heavy shoulder, no issue with getting the 'priviledge' of being the pack mule for the digging adventure. "Tropical plants…? Do you have a little greenhouse set up for them?" Relion asks, in sudden interest, which may immediately suggest he probably was of a farming or wood craft previous to his candidacy, or maybe a gardening interest, as teens don't normally perk up over plants in that fashion. He comes around the dragon, briefly touching her tail so as to not get smacked, and rejoins the others, blue eyes bright as he scans the beachside and sea, draping a forearm over the shovel handles.

With a soft chuckle for Natali's question, Thea moves to take up one of the cargo nets, slinging it over one of her shoulders, her manner light, almost carefree, if a little sly as she admits brimming with laughter, "I've been here several times and Young Miss," she lifts a forefinger, which is waggled in warning, "if that rascal of a son of mine ever brings you here, make certain you check the whereabouts of Siebith beforehand." Otherwise… cough. As she drags that large pack across the sand, Relion's question draws a blink and a concerned frown, "Uh, no. Do I need one?" This is something she hadn't considered, apparently. "I want to pot some and place them in the living cavern and the offices. We need something green in there." With a booted toe, she prods the pack, shooting the young man a questioning look, "That's water and snacks, some other tools. If we each take a shovel, do you think you could…?" Yeah, it doesn't hurt to have a strong back along. And as she turns towards the jungle, tilting her head in a 'follow me' gesture, she says in an enticing aside to Natali, "We'll be digging where pirates once camped."

Natali can't help but giggle, ducking her head in a manner that certainly isn't /shy/ but her shoulders are shaking spasmodically. Laughing, apparently. "Nash didn't say anything about coming here," she remarks, glancing up as she hefts one of the cargo nets for herself. "But aye, ma'am, I'll make sure we check first." She giggles madly for a moment or two, listening to the turn of conversation about tropical plants and greenhouses. Booooring! The pack is eyed carefully, it looked heavy. But since Thea is suggesting carrying a shovel, she holds out a hand towards Relion. "I could carry a shovel," she says, "easier than that pack anyway." Thank goodness for strong men. The goldrider gets a sudden eager look from the trader-turned-candidate. "Pirates! They must have left treasure. Maybe we'll find it." She's a trader's brat all right — enticed by the shiny.

Relion winces, "Well…. they're used to this weather, this heat. I know if you take a plant that's used to a huge amount of sunshine, and put it in a cold place… it doesn't like it," Relion simplifies. "That depends on the plant type, though, too…" he adds, flushing suddenly, embarrassed. How did his craft training about tree, soil and climate types suddenly get relevant? Funny how that happens. "So you may be better off with ones that are growing in the shade, for that," Relion recommends, talking while he picks up the pack without even thinking about it. Yes, he'll carry things for the girls, without even a bat of eye, pulling it over his shoulder, and keeping the shovels in a … probably masculine-pride kind of way. Then again, he looks used to it, from his physical makeup and the calm, almost bored attitude to carrying all of it. "You'll have a load of plants on the way back," Relion assures Natali.

"He's been here," Thea assures with a twinkle over her shoulder with a grin at Natali. "Ask him about the pirates we hid from sometime. They might have left something behind, yes." Back to her plants, she squints down the beach considering, then makes a decision with a bright smile. "Then shade-growing ones will have to do, Relion. Maybe you can point some out? And oh, we'll have to take back some soil too, hmm." She didn't bring containers for that, a realization that shows in the dismay that flits across her face, then fades. "We can fill the pack, maybe?" Her held-out hand drops to her side when the young man keeps the shovels and she pivots, sand grating underfoot as she moves, "This way, then." And she leads them towards the edge of the beach where a path opens, enters the jungle and winds upslope between huge trunks and large, moss-covered boulders.


Lost Island - Jungle Path

Thickly-growing palms cast this gravel path in perpetual gloom as it winds through verdant tropical growth, passing under massive vine-shrouded tree trunks and twisting between huge moss-covered boulders.

As you move deeper into the island's interior, the brightness of the beach dims, the calls of birds and the hum of insects replace the sound of the surf. Rukbat's light reaches the jungle floor only in isolated golden shafts that pierce the dense foliage above. Jasmine, frangipani and orchids bloom in the near twilight perfuming the vegetation-redolent air with a sweet, heady scent.

"Ooooh," Natali would clap her hands right about now, except such a feat would be a bit difficult with a cargo net in hand, at the very least, her applauding would sound fairly muffled. "You hid from pirates here? So this wasn't just a place they used as a base a long long time ago. It's recent." Well, as recent as one could get, right? Her own hand drops to her side, maybe it was just as well that Relion was insisting on carrying the shovels because Natali scampers forwards a little, keeping pace with the goldrider. "Did you bring containers with food in them?" she asks, noting Thea's comment about filling the pack. "Or water canteens?" Although the latter would need a good rinsing out afterwards. And into the jungle she goes, looking about excitedly. "You know a lot about plants," she remarks as an aside to Relion.

Relion smiles aside back to Natali, "I know a lot about /trees/," he clarifies, with a chuckle. "But a lot of that spills over into plants in general. I don't expect you'll want to take a palm tree back with us, though," Relion teases a little. "Also, if you're going between with them… you may lose some, if they aren't protected," Relion says, wincing, uncomfortable with being the bearer of problematic news. "So you may want to get more than you want to keep," he adds, clarifying. "Don't pirates sometimes leave boobytraps for those that come along?" he grins towards Natali, mostly just to play with her, than that he actually believes they're hunting pirate treasures. He comes along gamely behind the other two, his pace even, tolerant of them racing ahead, but he's not going to hurry, he has a bunch to carry: he'll get there when he gets there.

The crunching of gravel underfoot is loud in the muffled silence the jungle brings after the sound of the surf fades. Thea's glances flicker towards the undergrowth idly considering some of the plant life as she walks, half-listening to Natali in the way adults will do when contemplating several things at once. "Recent? Yes, within the last nine months. But the pirates that hid out here was rounded up and carted away." She nearly stumbles at Relion's comment regarding Between. No, she totally didn't think about that. "And maybe we can pack some moss and dead leaves around them to insulate them?" She peers over her shoulder with a hopeful lift of her dark brows, an indulgent smile slid to Natali to see her reaction to booby-traps as she strides onward. Soon there's the sound of rushing water and she leads them into a clearing.


Lost Island - Misty Falls

The jungle opens to a wide clearing that reveals a high, broad lip of rock over which water cascades in a thin sheet falling into a clear, wide pool that appears deep enough for swimming. The sound of the drops hitting the surface of the pool is musical and soothing to the ears. Almost level banks are thickly-carpeted with rich emerald moss shaded by giant ferns that cluster in graceful arcs, perpetually be-jeweled with beads from the mist given off by the falls.

Behind the falls there appears to be a ledge that allows one to pass behind the sheet of water and remain dry. The path skirts the clearing and continues on up towards the peak.

Natali sniffs a little. "Aren't trees plants though?" the younger candidate wants to know. "I mean, what's the difference, really?" Clearly, she doesn't know there is a difference. If there is indeed one. The girl peeks over her shoulder at Relion again, flipping a hand around in dismissal of booby-traps. "It can't be too hard to avoid them, right?" she comments. "If the priates go back to add to their treasure and all." There's a pause, Thea getting a sudden interested look from the girl. "That recent? And nobody found where they might have put treasure, right?" At least, the news that the pirates were carted away is met with considerable relief for the girl. At least said pirates wouldn't show up again. She looks forward. "Hey, I hear water."

"Yeah, some of that could insulate them. You're going to have something of a mess upon unpacking," Relion says, as if the mess more amused him than anything. Because, well, a dragon loaded with mossy dirty parcels of plants unloaded and falling apart everywhere in the clearing… well. So long as Thea is high up on the authority chain; he sure wouldn't try it by himself! "Another idea is to go back and get some warm blankets or tarps to strap over the netting," Relion says, speeding up a bit to nod at what Natali's carrying. "Trees are plants, yes, but it's like… comparing a Runner to a small pet beast; yes, they're both beasts, but…" He slows, distracted by the lovely waterfall, clearly impressed by the location, falling quiet, to let the subdued natural 'music' of the water and the leaning ferns and bushes take over.

Thea doesn't seem too worried about traps, since they're on the path, but that comment about treasure earns a second glance while she considers aloud. "I… really don't know. There were two stolen ships in the cove loaded with stuff they'd taken. But I wasn't with the riders that fought them. They might have overlooked something?" Seriously enough said, so there's the possibility the girl might just find something. "I don't want palm trees," she says with a light laugh as she steps into the clearing. "Maybe some of these ferns?" She takes several steps further then turns to watch their reaction to the place with a half-smile that grows thoughtful. After pondering for several beats, she says slowly, "Perhaps that would be the best plan, after all then. Would you mind organizing the effort, Relion? We can return with a team of candidates. Maybe for an overnight trip." Then teasingly, "If you all don't mind a two-day break from chores?"

"Mind?" Natali grins from ear to ear at the goldrider's question. "I don't think I'd mind a break from having to wash someone's dirty laundry or chasing down some little kid who seems determined to wreak the most havoc possible before I catch up to him. Usually with a paintbrush in his hand." She laughs a bit, shaking her head. "And I'd definitely want a chance to investigate the island," she nods fervently. "Find that treasure someone might have overlooked." She looks eager enough. "I think I get it," she says in reply to Relion's explaination. "Or like the way a firelizard is to a dragon? Same thing?"

Relion blinks, arching his brows, and chuckles. "I don't mind organizing the supplies for bringing back some plants, no," Relion admits. "Although it may be best to give food and overnight supplies planning to someone else," he adds, with a sly grin aside to Natali. "I can probably also find out what kind of tempratures are in the caverns or offices. I'd feel really bad if you spent all this work, and it was just too cold for them to survive," Relion says, lifting his shoulders some with a jangle of the shovels. "….still a nice place for treasure hunting though," he adds, the smile that follows youthening him back down to proper teen years. "Right, Natali," Relion agrees to her question about dragons. "Except also imagine there were tons of types of firelizards, each that had it's own temprature to live in, or liked different amounts of sunshine…" A chuckle follows. "…plant personalities? heh."

"Hopefully it's not Muir you're talking about," jokes the goldrider about havoc-wreaking younguns with a light laugh as her gaze drifts over the clearing and up to the peak in the distance. "I'll ask the Weyrsecond if they combed the island. There was a lot of confusion after we freed his family and I had a head injury, so he may have overlooked that little detail." She can give Natali some hope, anyway! Relion recalls her to the present and she smiles over at the young man, "I think I can divide up the responsibilities with some of the others." No doubt she'll be overseeing the effort. And she's visibly taken a-back by the planning a few plants require, but not one to dwell on it long, she discards a day of digging for a picnic by a pool with some hiking and swimming before they all head back to Xanadu to gain permission and make arrangements.

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