Start To Soar

// A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.
Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops

Spring at Xanadu! A time of pollen and avian mating calls being heard at horrible morning hours, brilliant wildflowers growing in purple, yellow, reds, and oranges. The weyrling dragons have grown too, having reach 6 1/2 months old and being about 3/4's to adulthood. The ability to hunt on their own, and wearing of straps. But most importantly, flight. That's what brings several green pairs to a cliff overlooking the meadow early this spring morning. Other dragons are going before Nei, so Evi is waiting for her turn and watching cautiously. Throwing her lifemate off a cliff might not be her idea of 'safe.' The first green launches herself off the cliff, and Evi gasps and backs up, shaking her head, telling the weyrlingmaster who is with them. "You know, maybe she's not ready!" YEP. Cliff jumping anxiety still present, Neifeth stands on the ridge staring down, posture relaxed, and head cocked curiously towards her rider. Whatever misgivings Evi might have, they don't seem to extend to the draconic member of the pairing. C'con is used to Evi's doubts and seems to be focused on helping the other 4 pairs along, making sure they're spaced evenly for safety, etc

N'on may have been a bit grimmer than typical in recent months, but that apparently isn't about to keep him away from watching the first flights. He shows up at the top of the cliff, but keeps back at first, lest he get in the weyrlingmaster's way. He's pretty unobtrusive, right up until it's clear that Evi has that moment of anxiety. He puts his fingers to his lips and gives a cheery little whistle, hoping to get her attention. If he does, he'll give her a significant look, eyebrows raised, and point into the sky. Should she follow his point, she'll see Zhelinath's narrow green wings, soaring a thermal a short distance away. Like her rider, she is keeping herself far enough away to avoid potential interference… But she's /there/, with the unspoken assumption that if something goes wrong, she's not about to let something bad happen to Nei. Even if the baby is a bit of a brat sometimes.

While N'on might have been a bit distant, he might have missed the physical changes in Evi. Preparing her for dragonriding was not going half bad; she had grown stronger, from plump to shapeless and vaguely gaunt, and now there's muscle appearing. Biceps, glutes, her calves have gone from scrawny too sleek but muscular. At least part of this is due to her getting older as well, all the hallmarks of her being a child are slowly dissipating. You could easily label her a woman if you didn't know better. The difference in her wardrobe is also subtle, today she is wearing pants with her bright green blouse. Neifeth bounces up and stretches open electric green wings, ready for this challenge. Evi turns around to the whistle, giving a smile that warps into a near pained grimace. ACK. WHAT THE FIRST SHELL. "She's sure she can fly, but what if she gets hurt?" Obvious worry tainting her voice, "I think it's a lot to drop them off a cliff like this." Motioning towards the drop-off, "Maybe she needs another seven to grow, Luoci's Tcyralith got a terrible sprain and nearly hit a TREE." Making the sign for tree with her eyes bulging, for emphasis. Once the first green is safely on the ground, Solcady's follows with gusto. YEP, eventually, they will be the last one on the top of this ride. Oh, bother. Zhelinath is eyed, and her head cocks to one side. For a moment, the young weaver looks so much like her mount, "What would Zhel even DO if she couldn't fly?"

N'on gives a crooked little grin. He points to Evi, then at his eyes, and waits to make sure she's /really/ paying attention. When he's sure he's got her full attention and she's done fretting (at least out loud), he signs a response. "She can if you believe she can," he signs, exagerrating everything to make sure it's visible from the slight distance. He hasn't exactly moved in closer, since that would encroach on the weyrlingmaster's territory. "If not, Zhelinath will catch her. She trained for this." He touches the knot signifying his wing with a pointedly raised brow. From her position aloft, circling above the cliff, Zhelinath gives a bellow of encouragement.

The attention-grabbing would take a moment, with some of her focus on trying to keep Nei from going before there 'turn,' everyone else volunteering to go first without acknowledging Evi's reluctance. They live with her, they aren't shocked. Focusing in on N'on, there's a lot of exaggerated nodding, to show she's 'listening' or well, watching. The lack of attention from Evi allows for an opportunity, C'con turns to offer another pair a chance and with a loud. «Goodbye and good riddance.» Neifeth throws open her wings and tosses herself over the ledge, springing far enough forward that she is at no risk of hitting the cliff face. Suddenly aloft she bugles back to ZHelinath, as self-satisfied as any creature has the right to be. The dragonettes are not supposed to be flapping, but she gives a few test flaps. The little green has this, made for the air, her wings better proportioned to her body she's a fine specimen of a dragon for all the lack of charm and tact. Evi gasps and runs towards the cliff face, C'con grabbing her in case she's clumsy enough to go over the edge. The older greenrider gives an approving nod and watches on, Evi turning back to N'on and smiling grimly. «This was not even hard.» Neifeth's mind gently wafting towards ZHelinath's, mild minty smell, and the subtle taste of saltwater. If you didn't recognize Nei's sassy tone, you'd never know it was her by her mental impression. Evi walks back to where N'on is, still easily able to see her dragon gliding towards the ground. "We get to use firestone before the end of the month, all the dragon have been excited." Evi rolls her eyes, "She likes it, the flying. She's a lot more sure of all this than me." At least she knows, right? Knowledge is power.

Zhelinath gives another bugle, this one of triumph when Neifeth makes the leap. « Of course not, » comes her prim response. The ashen field that had been her mind field has flickered back to life, brilliant oranges and yellows sending sparks into a black sky. « This is what we are meant for. » She does an abrupt wingover and dive, before swooping back up into the sky, rising high to put some more distance between herself and the smaller dragons below. Back on the cliff, N'on is grinning broadly. It emphasizes the dark shadows under his eyes, but for this moment at least, he seems to be uncompromisingly joyful. "Dragons are always more confident than riders," he signs. He winks, taps the side of his nose, and adds, "Why we need each other." Then, without preamble, he reaches to try and draw her into a hug.

After several gliding circles, Neifeth is suddenly closing in on the ground and attempting to figure out how to tilt her wings to slow her descent. At first, tipping them forward only accelerates and causes an abrupt shift backward, immature wing muscles that have yet to learn the quick retracting action that it takes to land smoothly, instead stutter. The sudden change temporarily presses her up, a hovering motion that ends as the speckled and striped green snaps her wings in prematurely and plummets the last few feet to the ground. Luckily she's within 2 meters of the ground and hits with a THUMP, bending her limbs to cushion. SLAM. She's not lightweight, at about 15 meters long, and several tons in weight. Quick to raise her head and tuck her wings in, «DId it.» Evi nods, her eyes on her lifemate and wincing as the landing is rough. "Nei nei, does anything hurt?" She says aloud, quiet, and fast. Then shakes her head, "She says no… and she doesn't want me speaking to her aloud, but I think it's polite. We do need each other. She's terrible at math." Being pulled into a hug, she readily accepts, taking a long, cleansing breath and staring up at the dark circles. "When she can fly, we should go somewhere pretty. Maybe you need a vacation." The worried sister vibes can't be covered up. Neifeth quietly asks Zhelinath, her mind a whisper «Could you land, I need to watch.» She's never going to ADMIT she needs help, but her tones a tad less smarmy.

N'on waits patiently for Evi to check in on Nei, but the suggestion of a vacation is just met with a weary rolling of eyes. "Am I that ugly?" The crooked grin makes it clear he's teasing… and also brushing off her concern. He refrains from ruffling her hair, at least. Zhelinath watches Neifeth's landing from above, her head tilting this way and that to take in the different angles. The request is met with perhaps a touch of surprise, but it's so polite that Zhelinath responds in kind. « Of course. » As she arcs around to line herself up with the beach (the better to avoid any advanced maneuvers that would just confuse the issue), she projects an image of Neifeth, highlighting the angle of her wings. « Tilt /so/ to slice through the air and go faster. But /so/ to catch the air and slow down. » The mental simulacrum of Neifeth demonstrates the two positions. Then, the gold-kissed green glides down for a landing that is characteristically balletic. She hovers for a brief second, powerful wings stirring up the sand as her wings flap to slow her down. One rear claw touches down, and the rest soon follow with a delicate prance-like gesture.

C'con and Charybdth assist the next pair as soon as it's clear Neifeth is on the ground, the Weyrlingmaster gives a nod to Evi and points towards the trail. The other weyrlings are already meandering down, and Evi nods but pauses. Nei watches Zhelinath land, eyes whirling slowly blue and yellow as she attempts to understand the maneuvers necessary. With a nod of her pointy dark head, she raises herself up «I wish to try again.» C'con shakes his head at Evi, giving her a stern look. Pursing her lips tightly together with a concerned dart of eyes towards the ground. "Neinei, they've said no." Neifeth huffs and shakes her head hard, not accepting this answer one BIT. Ignoring the precocious member of the duo for a breath, she smiles at N'on, very much a 'bless your heart' sorta smile. The squint and side tilt to her head is very much, 'I am not buying your Bullshit'. Or maybe she is because quickly enough she straightens up. "You um, just maybe, sorta, kinda look like someone who just MIGHT benefit from an itsy bitsy vacation." Neifeth turns back towards Zhelinath and rumbles unhappily, «I know if I tried again, I could do it better. Silly whers.» The baby green has always defined the word handful, and today is no exception.

There's a hint of a moment… A flash and then it's gone, in which it seems like N'on might offer some sort of serious response, but then he just smile and winks, then gestures toward the path with a quizzical look. He turns toward the path, making it clear he intends to join her on the path down. Zhelinath shakes out her wings and then starts a slow trek out of the landing zone, to give the babies plenty of space. « You will get many chances. As many as you need, » she assures. After several paces along, she arches her neck to peer back at the younger green. « I will tell you the secret to being first to fly, » she whispers, on a puff of smoke. « The secret is to be wise enough to avoid injury. The stupid ones who try too much get injured, and then they are the /last/ to fly. » After a beat, she opts for candor, and adds, « Some of them are the last to do anything. » She accompanies this with a shadow-puppet illustration of a dragon plummeting out of the sky. At least she's nice enough not to show the splat.

The smile and the wink are still not being questioned, but C'con shoots Evi a glance, and that is all it takes to move her feet. The downhill portion of the trail is smooth, surrounded by grass, and slightly rocky but not an uncomfortable descent. The short, bouncy green weyrling makes it a point to stay next to N'on, allowing her eyes to see his hands. "I got my first set of straps done, and tomorrow we have inspection, if they look good enough, i might actually get on Neinei this week. I need to dye them for her, she's not keen on wearing them as they are." Whether N'on was ready for it or not, she's growing up. The timid, mousey girl from Half Moon Bay is closer to a dragonrider each day. "You know you can tell me what's bothering you." Traipsing down the path, Evi pauses in hopes of catching N'ons eyes. "I'm not a baby, you know, I can handle it." This phrase alone hints at a burst of maturity. Neifeth watches Zhelinath's dragon puppetry, first with glee and then a mental recoil, «Only stupid dragons meet such ends.» The cocky confidence in the youngster would give anyone who knows anything about this phase of training pause. The Weyrlings at this stage are usually kept too busy to attempt anything on there own, and the closing of ranks around them for safety sake is a long practiced tradition. Neifeths bright forest twinkles slightly before she steals it away. «How do these silly whers expect me to improve if I don't practice?» Sassy, but it's clear she takes her own performance seriously. At least they have that.

Zhelinath rumbles a faint amusement. « Of course. And /you/ are not a stupid dragon. This is how I know you will listen to the weyrlingmasters. » She leaves it at that and continues her relaxed trek down the beach, as though it was of no concern at all to /her/ if Neifeth should go off on her own.
N'on just shakes his head a little at the flip-flopping of topics. "Not today," he signs, then gestures toward the sky. "Today is for flying." He gives a crooked little grin and a nudge at her shoulder, then changes the topic right back. "What color straps?"

Neifeth does not follow Zhelinath, getting to the side of the meadow and stretching her wings out fully in order to catch the sun. With wings open the dark and speckled little green is a riot of color, everything about her is attention seeking. As they descend down the mountain Evi is quiet for a moment, watching N'on sign and taking a second to make sure she has it right. At times when signed to she repeats the sign, the act of making the motion herself solidifying what is being said. "That was more, gliding… I know the first few flights, are risky. C'con has been all over us about safety this last week, Charybdth has been going one by one and making sure they know the drills. " Quiet overtakes her, brows furrowing and mouth dropping in worry before she answers the next question, "Blue-green? I dyed them myself, the stain on the floor will probably be there forever. I've been standing over it during inspections to avoid anyone seeing it." A sly smile, at her own cleverness. "The whole process took forever, I just finished the padding. Nei says they will do for now, she wants the buckles to be more ornate but I don't have time to make the marks yet."

A solemn shadow passes over N'on's face, as he acknowledges the truth of the danger. "You will be careful," he signs. There's no question about it. No admonition. Just an acknowledgement that he trusts her to look after her difficult dragon. Then he smiles and leaves the subject behind. "Good color," he signs. After a moment of thought, he adds, "Simple is best. She will grow." That is signed with a slightly rueful smile, as he recalls the speed that his own dragon grew out of her first set. Speaking of Zhelinath, once she reaches a sunny spot, she settles herself down and spreads her wings, almost swanlike as she arranges herself to catch the most sunlight possible.

As they reach the bottom and the last Weyrling green lands with a crash onto her nose Evi winces, "Ow, poor Agadhith!" She squeaks, hands going to her face as the dragonet rights herself and has ichor oozing dark down her face, "Shards." A whimper escapes her lips and she gives N'on a frightened look before turning around and throwing her arms around him. "Nei's go this. I need to trust her." With that C'con is down on the ground, and a silent message passes between the Weyrlings and Evi says, "Tell Zhelinath thank you for me, alright? We have a lesson." Scampering off Neifeth follows in her typicaly prowling gait, acknowledging N'on with a flick of her head.

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