Fort Weyr - Living Caverns
This cavern, having been created by bubbles in the volcanic flow of this extinct volcano, has a breathtaking ceiling — a vast dome that arches high above the heads of the weyrfolk that scurry around beneath it. A hollow echo can be heard from loud enough noises, and the chatterings of various firelizards are consequently multiplied into a chaotic babble. All in all, the living cavern is a loud place.
Tables are scattered around the room, apparently in no particular order. Over to one side near the kitchens, two medium sized serving tables are constantly spread with snacks, klah, and other goodies. The tables look worn, yet perfectly fitted to the atmosphere of the caverns. In the 'corners' of the cavern, smaller two and four place tables are set up for more private talks or just a less chaotic atmosphere in which to eat.

The storm blew in as the lunch rush began to fade, and now that the dinner rush is in full swing, the storm is raging outside. A full on Fortian winter blizzard, the snow pelting the mountains and settling thick in the valleys above the weyr. Inside, Nyalle is sitting at the leadership table on its slightly raised dais, having some stew and sipping her tea. Her playfulness of proddy is somewhat dimmed at the moment, which must mean Kayeth is sleeping, but the young weyrwoman still smiles more than she usually does, and laughs more often.

What wonderful weather to arrive in. Fresh from the Hold, even fresher from the crafter's dorms, having changed from flight-appropriate gear to something more comfortable, Amethyst enters the living cavern beside a much taller, older lady, the pair of them wearing their Smith knots proud on their shoulder. As her companion filters off to do her own thing, the senior apprentice is left to do her own thing. First? Exploration - or what can be done in the dinner rush, anyway. She slips between the tables and people towards the food, always a good place to start, and she can't help but sneak a look up at the leadership table, with a big grin for spotting the Weyrwoman there. If she's seen in her looking, she bobs into a quick curtsey, nodding her head in a polite hello.

If a storm just blew in, that usually means an influx of folk and riders alike to the caverns as they all flee the outdoors to take cover. Among one such knot of riders is the Weyrleader himself and Th'ero pauses by the entrance to brush as much of the snow from his gear as possible. He hadn't been out with Velokraeth but had had plans to before the weather turned. "… shardin' winter." he can be heard muttering under his breath, which earns a few agreeable mutterings from those passing him. He'll lift his head to scan the caverns then, only to spot Nyalle in her usual seat and it's to the Weyrwoman that he approaches. "Afternoon, Nyalle." he greets, his gaze lingering on her in an almost wary manner. How proddy is she right now? It's while he's gauging this that he'll spot movement and catch Amethyst mid-curtsey. Though the gesture was not aimed at him, Th'ero will still politely dip his head to the young woman. "Afternoon." See? He can be polite! And… somewhat approachable.

Food is one of those requirements for life. Thus, despite the bustle inside Hazelon has made himself an appearance where food can be found (because he's not about to miss another meal when the food is RIGHT THERE.) He's over there by the tables gathering what he can carry before looking to see if there is a secluded corner wherein he can eat. Somewhere not near the weyrleader OR his batarse crazy weyrwoman. (There aren't any snowballs here, right?)

Abigail has been out in said weather it seems. The brownrider pauses at the entrance of the cave and goes about brushing her jacket off as as she grumbles while attempting to get the snow off. So far so good really. She catches sight of Th'ero just moving off, as such she doesn't bother greeting him just yet as she is off to find something to eat and warm to drink. Hazelon is caught sight of and she smiles to him. "Hello Hazelon." She offers with a slight wave seen. "How are ye?" She's not talked to him in a short while now.

Nyalle pauses in her meal, setting her spoon down as Th'ero approaches. The Senior rises from her seat respectfully, curtseying to the Weyrleader. "Weyrleader," she murmurs softly. "I'm glad you're here. I think-" She's cut off by his nod, her eyes traveling to spot Amethyst, and studying her for a moment before she smiles gently and returns her nod. Hazelon and Abigail are spotted as well, and Nyalle just blushes as she sits hastily once again, grabbing for her tea.

The Weyrleader's greeting earns a wider grin from Amethyst, who's already flashing plenty of teeth. He gets another quick bob, and a "Good afternoon, sir," in reply. Then off she trots, continuing on her way to the food. Once she's got a full plate, she pauses beside Hazelon, looking for somewhere suitable to sit. "Excuse me," is said to both Abigail and the young man. "Is the seat here free, or should I go anywhere in particular, as a visiting Crafter?"

Wait, someone is talking to him? His name rolling off someone's tongue catches the ex-drudge's attention. The food is hugged tighter- like someone might actually try to take it from him. When the voice reveals itself to be the Wingleader (did he ever catch her name?) who had drug him out of the forest he nods back just slightly. Hazelon's face is smooth, and only the way he keeps himself back oh-so-carefully might attest to the amount of waryness he holds those involved in his capture at the moment. But she had spoken, so he does speak back, "Ma," except, WAIT. Now there is ANOTHER person speaking to him. He'll step back, turning dark eyes onto the woah-friendly apprentice who appeared on his elbow. "Ain't matterin' where you be sittin'." The words come stiffly. Apparently this was NOT a quiet corner.

Th'ero tilts his head in a slightly curious gesture when Nyalle begins to speak to him but is cut off. He quirks a brow, a silent prompt for her to continue but the moment passes and greetings are being exchanged. He'll flash Amethyst a brief smile before she moves off, his eyes spotting Abibail and then Hazelon, his expression unreadable though he sends a nod to both of them. When it seems he's freed again for now from social necessities, Th'ero will step around the table and towards his chair next to Nyalle's. "Storm just kicked up." he informs her with a grimace. In case she didn't already know!

Abigail curiously watches Hazelon a few moments, a soft smile seen before she nods to him. "I'm Abbey by the way." There now he knows her name. As for the food he carries no worries there! There is plenty more over on the tables and waves a hand towards one. "Why don't you try over there?" This questioned softly to the boy before she looks to a new voice. "Afternoon, it don't matter where abouts really. Save the leaders table I suppose." Meaning she should ask before sitting with them unless invited over of course. She catches the nod from Th'ero and offers him one back along with a polite smile.

Nyalle watches Amethyst go for a moment, her brows furrowing. "She's new, right?" she asks aside to Th'ero, watching her interact with Hazelon and Abigail. She sips her tea, shifting in her seat again. "I think-" she begins once more, only to be cut off when a drudge approaches and bows. "Sir, your meal request for this evening?"

"Oh, really? No seating arrangements? That's /wonderful/." Amethyst grins at Hazelon, then at Abigail when the brownrider seconds what the former said. "We've just got here from Telgar, and it was a very different story there; have you ever sat at someone else's table when you weren't meant to? You'd think it was the end of Pern, the way they acted." She rolls her eyes and tuts, before scanning the open seats. "Amethyst, by the by. Senior Smith Apprentice, and, as I said, new here - we're here for a month, I think. As long as needed, anyway. Would you mind if I sit wherever you're going to sit?"

"Hazelon." Becuase he'd never actually given Abigail his name offically. So, they're like… not not friends any more. He had started to drift away when Abigial points out a more unoccupied corner. But then the newly introduced Amethyst is asking if maybe they could be sitting together. His eyes drift up to Th'ero, then back around. "I suppose there ain't nothin' wrong with that." The teen slides into a seat, plopping food down in front of him. It is already moving into his mouth before his butt makes contact with the chair.

No seating arrangements here, save for the leadership table, but even then both the Weyrwoman and Weyrleader have always been welcoming to anyone wanting to join them, invite or no. Th'ero may very well have tried to call them over again, but his attention is drawn to Nyalle when the Weyrwoman prompts him with a question. "I believe so. Hadn't seen her or the one with her before. Thought I recognized the colors as Smithcraft, but I could be mistaken." Which may be why his dark eyes are then turning back to where Amethyst stands with Abigail and Hazelon… or perhaps he's watching another? One never knows with the Weyrleader. Th'ero's turning his gaze away then, back to Nyalle and he listens intently. SHe thinks…? Shard it! He has to grit his teeth from snapping something at the drudge but even so his response is clipped. "Ale and stew. Please." Dismissed! "I'm sorry, Nyalle. You think…?"

Abigail smiles to Hazelon and nods to him once more. "Well met Hazelon." See? No ill feelings towards him and so forth. She glances to Amethyst curiously. "Nice ta met ye. Abigial rider to Niumdreoth, Wingleader for Search and Rescue." Well that mouth full is out of the way. "I don't see why not." A slight point is sent to where Hazelon is sitting before she is off to get some food for herself.

Nyalle slouches a bit in her seat when the drudge arrives, and when Th'ero prompts her again she sits up, her mouth opening. "I think…" And then it happens. Whatever it was Nyalle was trying to warn him about happens, with the awakening of Kayeth. As the blizzard rages on outside the autumnal Senior queen uncoils from her ledge, stretches and lets out a challenging roar. Soaring into the snow-laden skies, she heads straight for the feeding ground while Nyalle gasps. "No!" Not now! On her feet, the Weyrwoman stumbles towards the door, forgetting her coat in her haste - though she can't help but giggle as she bursts through the door, leaving it swinging open and sending a rush of snow and wind into the caverns.

Hazelon spares the barest of a nod for Abbey's manners, seeing as he already has a whole pile of food in his mouth. Th'ero's gaze isn't lost, but dark eyes are pinned on the table in front of him… until the crazy weyrwoman lets out that exclamation and darts out the doorway. An eyebrow shoots up and he'll cast a look over at Abigail, the question there but not expressed.

It's normal, but not common and whatever it is, it has the riders in the caverns sitting straighter and with mixed and varying reactions. Notably, the bronzeriders are booking it for the entrance, with a few brown riders joining in. The Weyrleader? He's getting to his feet too, but swearing under his breath. "Now? Now? In a blizzard?" he exclaims, as if his low spoken protests can undo Kayeth's decision to rise. Too late now and with Velokraeth charging forwards and diving down into the feeding grounds after the glowing gold, Th'ero's got to make his hasty exit. Who knows if it'll be him wearing that knot at the end of this?

Fort Weyr - Feeding Grounds
Milling herdbeasts dot this lightly grassy section of the southern end of the bowl. Fences keep them neatly secured on all sides, even extending into the lake, allowing the beasts ample drinking water without granting them an escape. Dragons young and old come here to hunt on a fairly regular basis, though not all come at once of course. From here you can easily make out the entirety of the Weyr's lake as it spreads out south and southwest to the tumbled rubble of the far shore, while the rest of the bowl lies beyond the fences to the southeast, east and northeast.

There's no doubting it. Despite the pelting of the snow and the howling of the wind, Kayeth is blooding. Her hide glows, gleaming brightly like the sun despite the blizzard, visible in the shifting winds as flashes of gold as she bites into her second beast and drinks deeply from the throat. Nyalle stumbles as she runs, falling a few times before managing to get on her feet once more before finally grabbing tightly to the fence. Her eyes shut tightly and she trembles, gritting her teeth and /forcing/ Kayeth to blood. Her queen's tail lashes angrily, another roar sounding her protest and her demands. Nyalle shrinks lower but does not allow it, the fear of Kayeth being too heavy for a good flight keeping her thoughts focused despite all the emotions tumbling through her mind.

Velokraeth's pale hide is washed out even further by the pelting snow, but he doesn't care about that. All he cares about is Kayeth and her glowing hide and keeping her within his sights as he takes down his first kill and then a second to blood with as much voraciousness. His mind extends to hers, awash with the taste of wine and summer and sweetened, honeyed words. As other males begin to swoop in, Velokraeth watches them all with a cautious and wary eye though he greets them with his usual witty banter and cryptic sarcasm. There's no aggression from him — not yet, not with the game so fresh. Let the others think they stand a chance! Th'ero hurries off from the living caverns, teeth gritted as he reaches to pull the collar of his jacket up against the wind and snow. Soon he'll find himself surrounded by other riders, bronze and brown mostly, but he ignores them for now. His eyes are on Nyalle, watching her as she struggles with Kayeth.

Niumdreoth is perched upon his ledge, able to get a good view in of the hunting grounds from the great height. The glowing hide is caught and his eyes turn to lock upon that form with a low rumble escaping him. Soon enough the large brown is up, leaping into the air and gliding down to the ground where without a second thought he is joining this flight for certain. He lands upon a large beast, talons gripping, head lowering and fangs burry into the animal while he bloods it rather eagerly. His form shifts, tail lashing and he makes it a point to keep a eye on Kayeth in case she goes about trying to sneak off before he is done.

Another bronze arrives too! A flashy and young, brash and bold, bronze by the name of Zhirazoth and even before he's brought down his first kill, he's roaring his arrival and challenge to the males and warbling invitingly to Kayeth. He's here! He made it! Mr'az almost got thrown off his ledge for being too slow but… Zhirazoth still made it! Speaking of the bronzerider, he's in the group now gathering to huddle around Nyalle, his expression conflicted and too mixed to read clearly.

Kayeth is taking her time, falling another beast and fighting with Nyalle before she bends and drinks from it. The Senior clings to that fence, shivering in the cold with her jacket back in the caverns, but she doesn't notice or care. Her entire focus is on Kayeth. "Yes my beloved, that's it," she whispers. "That's it, nice and strong. Strong so you can show them all…show them how strong we are…" Kayeth rumbles low in her chest, tail lashing and teeth snapping when a bronze gets too close. He's from High Reaches. Pfft. She snaps at him again, snarling until he backs off. Then she shoulders her way past a brown to get at a fourth, drinking greedily and flexing her wings. Her mind is a storm cloud, dark and flickering with lightning, powerful waves crashing against the shore that is usually so tranquil in her thoughts.

Velokraeth is a smart bronze. Ugly as sin, but smart. He'll stay well out of Kayeth's path and only watch in smug amusement as Zhirazoth has his ego shoved back at him with snarls and teeth. HA! No pity from the pale bronze, when the young flashy bronze sulks and steals a kill from a smaller brown, squeals and snarls of protest erupting until things settle again as the males focus on blooding. Seems they're a bit more heated this round, likely stirred up by the incoming storm. A challenge within a challenge! It could spell a quick flight… or disaster. Back by the fences, Th'ero just grits his teeth and waits, his eyes darting to Abigail and Mr'az, then the others hovering about. It's not the cold that drives them closer, it's the desire to jostle for a position closes to Nyalle and slowly but surely a ring is forming around her and closing in. Th'ero hates this part the most, being pressed in, but he has no choice and he can already begin to feel Velokraeth's influence on his mind, as intoxicating as the strongest of ales or wines. "Why a blizzard…" he mutters out loud again, not expecting an answer.

Niumdreoth is quick to grab hold of another beast, dragging it down and slamming it to the ground as he is quick to start blooding this one as well. He'll need all the strength he needs seeing how there are plenty of bronzes around, along with a few other browns wanting to toss in their attempts. Still Nium feels like he can do it, his done it before and he'll do it again if given the chance. While the large brown works on feeding Abigail is making her way towards the feeding ground, sipping at her mug with her free hand tucked into her flight jacket which is zipped up to help with keeping her warm out in the rather lovely weather that has found Fort at the moment. The brownrider sends a glance over the area, taking in who all is around before she finds herself paused nearby Th'ero it seems. A slight glance is sent to him and she offers him a slight nod.

Kayeth growls at /all/ of them right now, tail lashing and mind pushing outwards at them. Her fourth kill finished, muzzle and chest and paws stained with blood, she crouches and with a challenging roar surges into the sky with a powerful downstroke of her wings. She is Senior, she is the BEST. Come try and claim her. The thrill of the flight has Nyalle gasping, her eyes wide but nearly sightless as she looks skyward after her glorious golden queen, a call following after Kayeth's roar.

Four is a good number, isn't it? Velokraeth seems to think so, having matched Kayeth kill for kill, as did many of the other competitors. They'll need every ounce of their strength if they're to beat both a storm AND the gold for the right to catch her! At her challenging roar, Velokraeth answers in his own call, wings flaring open in a stunning display of copper-bronze and reddish-bronze before they sweep back and he launches into the skies, scattering even more snow in his wake. Down below by the fence, Th'ero swears out loud again, rocking a bit on his feet as his head cranes skywards, eyes squinting against the pelting snow as the dragons are enveloped by it. When he looks down again, he'll catch Abigail's nod and he returns it, though his expression is twisted as he tries to keep a grip on himself for as long as possible. Flights are not kind to the Weyrleader, as he tends to lose himself almost completely in the moment as Velokraeth takes control.

The roar is enough to get Niumdreoth's attention and the brown shifts, tail lashing while another beast falls to the ground dead and drained. There is a deep rumble before he is leaping up into the sky to follow after that lovely glittering gold hide that teases him so. A deep roar escaping him, wings stretching wide while he flies upwards into the snow filled skies. He has never minded the snow, it is after all a place that he likes to visit within his own mind, a nice snow filled forest. Abigail merely watches, there is a faint breath that escapes her and she closes her eyes once she has finished her drink. "So it starts." Is murmured out softly from the rider.

Kayeth is quick to rise and quick to vanish into the blinding snow and the clouds, pushing her way through the forceful winds with a surge of strength as she rises clear of the bowl walls and heads away from the mountain range. She isn't stupid enough to play chicken with those towering peaks. Not in a snow storm. Not after what happened to Seryth. She heads instead for the coast. More unpredictable winds but at least there aren't any cliffs to slam into. For now, she simply flies. Nothing fancy, just /flying/ as her gleaming golden body races through the snow, each flake sizzling when it touches her heated hide. Below, Nyalle grips the fence and moans softly, shivering, hyper-aware of everything that is going on around her yet powerless to change anything.

"So it starts," Comes another voice to echo Abigail's, but it's not Th'ero's. It's Mr'az's and the Wingrider nods stiffly to his Wingleader, his eyes focused on Nyalle for a moment as he takes a steadying breath. He pointedly ignores Th'ero, which suits the Weyrleader just fine because he's doing the SAME thing. Th'ero has his eyes turned skyward again, but the dragons are already out of sight. Not that it matters, he's getting plently of feedback from Velokraeth now and he growls low in his throat as he edges forwards with a few of the other riders, only to find himself roughly elbowed by Mr'az. Up in the skies, Zhirazoth will surge ahead of Velokraeth when Kayeth takes a straight line course to the coast, taunting the older and paler bronze and then frustrated when Velokraeth doesn't rise to the bait and only drops down below the young bronze, shouldering a few browns out of his way as he passes. Already the jostling has begun, as the poor weather conditions force the pursuing males closer.

Abigail casts a slight glance towards Mr'az and she watches him a few moments before nodding slightly to him. She's not much of a talker when it comes to flights, she watches and takes everything in that is happening as her mind starts to drift more with Niumdreoth at the moment. The brown is not the quickest at the moment, following a bit near the middle of the pack to work on keeping his energy up, he'll start to press forward soon enough. He catches sight of the direction that Kayeth is heading and is moving that way as well. At the shouldering from a certain bronze a low growl escapes Niumdreoth and he shifts forward to follow after Velokraeth, though only to make sure he moves up in the line not to try and actually cause a problem.

Nyalle is silent, even when her boyfriend speaks up. She doesn't react to him even though she knows he's there, as much as Kayeth knows the name of every dragon who chases her. She pushes herself through the blinding snow and the stinging wind, eyes half lidded to protect them as she pits her strength and stamina against the skies of her home weyr. Dipping a wing, she suddenly veers to the right, slicing through the sky and following a flurry back towards the ground.

Velokraeth veers when Kayeth does, though slower from where he's placed himself in the skies and he seems unmoved by the bronzes and browns who pass him. He'll bide his time and scheme, wings working to keep on track and not let the winds throw him off course. So long as he can see the glowing hide of Kayeth in front or above or below him, that is all that matters. Zhirazoth, on the other hand, is brash and makes sure he is in the front of the pack and any male who tries to edge in is promptly cut off or shouldered back or snarled and snapped at. So much wasted energy, but he may be banking on Kayeth losing strength fast in this blizzard. Stupid, foolish bronze! Down below on the ground, the riders continue to tighten their circle around Nyalle, Th'ero and Mr'az among them, though Mr'az stands almost by the WEyrwoman's side, while Th'ero is lingering back. Nothing is said and there is only a tense anticipation permeating the air.

Kayeth ignores Zhirazoth for the most part, though her thoughts /do/ drift out to him to tease, taunt and nudge as she pushes herself swiftly upwards once more. C'mon, that the best you got? She knows how to push his buttons, and she /does/. For Velokraeth, it's witty remarks and challenging banter, and each of her chasers has the same treatment, her thoughts altered for each of them, using her skills and her knowledge of them all to nudge them on to faster, further, greater feats of flight. And now that they are now well over the sea, she is finally beginning to tire, her wing beats slowing. It is now that her thoughts reach back to the weyr, reach back to her rider, to feel what /Fort/ wants. Now is the time for her chasers to make their attempts and for her to choose Fort's next Weyrleader.

Zhirazoth goes right into Kayeth's trap, taunted and teased and nudged into pushing himself too fast and too strong too soon. He's BETTER than this and he will prove it to her and everyone that he can out match them ALL and snare her. His wings begin to slow, his strength draining and he tires, but he pushes himself. He can sense the sea, sense her strength flagging and he crows with delight. This is it! His talons extend and his wings fold, intent on taking her from above. This is — A gust of wind fouls his wings, tipping him just enough to throw him off his mark and have to flare his wings to keep himself from flipping over and into a deadly spin. Zhirazoth snarls in rage and screams in frustration as he rights himself by by then the pack is engulfing him and jostling him further and further back and away from Kayeth. No, no! Velokraeth spares little time and Zhirazoth is mercifully left without his smug remarks. No salt in the wounds this time! The pale bronze is struggling as well in the blizzard, his limit almost reached as he strains through the wind and snow to keep his position. Waiting, waiting… THERE! With one final effort, Velokraeth throws all the cards down on the table, gives in to fate and dives down after Kayeth in a move not unlike the one Zhirazoth just attempted. Only he's aware of the wind, aware of the other males and he will weave and twist to avoid them fouling his plans as he closes in…

Kayeth closes her eyes and gives herself up to her flight. She lets Fort rise in her thoughts, the collective desires of all of Fort's dragons and their riders. Who do /they/ want to win? Her eyes open again and she shifts, turning her body on instinct, her mind reaching out to claim her winner a heartbeat before their bodies are entwined as she tangles with Velokraeth. She - and Fort - have chosen him yet again. Below, Nyalle's eyes open and fixate on Th'ero, oblivious to everyone else, including Mr'az. A hand reaches out and grabs the still-Weyrleader's tunic, stumbling through the snow towards the guest weyr.

Could there be any doubt? Few will be surprised by the outcome and Velokraeth is smug and pleased as he entwines with Kayeth, gripping her firm and tight as he carries her off into the storm, his triumphant cry carried away by the winds. Below, far below and back in the Weyr, Th'ero inhales sharply and his mind, now almost all Velokraeth's, has him instinctively turning to Nyalle and drawn to her. With a low throated growl that is also a throaty chuckle, he will tumble into Nyalle, snaring her about the waist as she takes him by the tunic and he will haul her into the guest weyr.