Fort's Forests — Fort Weyr — Forest Ruins
Little more than foundations are left of this ancient building, the stones long-since fallen and scattered, and so overgrown as to make them nearly blend into the forest from a distance. Small as it is, the moss-covered walls and tumbled-down roof form a sort of maze that twists and winds around trees and shrubbery, some of which growing right out of cracks in the rock. Here and there, bits of metal are visible, peeking out of the ground between pine needles and other debris, a testament to just how old this structure is. An overhanging bit of what may have been the roof, with slate tiles set precariously over it, reveals a shadowed nook, and a stone staircase that descends into darkness. Possibly, there may have been an old mine shaft here, though now the dense foliage makes exploration difficult at best. There is, a little ways beyond the outskirts of the building, a clearer area, with the stone floor still somewhat intact.

Early dawn arrives with the skies overcast and grey, but steadily lightening all the same. Rain threatens, but none falls quite yet and the air remains chill and damp. Most of the Weyr slumbers, with only those caught with first round duties or early morning chores out and about. Of course, there are those also who have stayed up all night or perhaps those poor restless souls who could not stay asleep. For a certain trio, however, their reason is simple: mischief. Necessary mischief in their minds, of course! Despite the news of the unstable tunnels and cave in and the rumors of mysterious youths found in the storage caverns, they slink into the Weyr through the very entrance by the ruins that the Weyrleaders had thought of sealing off. Not that it stopped the youths, they found a way around and learned the pattern of the patrolling Guards. Now they're about to sneak off with their most recent plundering, but this time they were a little greedy and are attempting to make off with a large and cumbersome wrapped object. A heavy one too! They clear the tunnels, but it's out by the ruins that the youngest of them stumbles and drops his end. Standing there, he only stares at the other two. "I'm tired." he says monotonously and slow, yet whining all the same, complete with a child's stubborn pout. This sucks! "Can't we stop? Do we even need this stupid thing? We got everything else."

A girl of about fourteen turns sets her end down too, when the younger boy puts his down. "We can't stop yet, bug," she says affectionately to the kid. "Come on. Yes, we need it! It's pretty. And useful. We need it, come on," she says, tugging a bit on her end to encourage him to lift his as well. "Almost there."

"'course we need it," mutters the third, a teenage boy — he looks around the same age as the girl, and also tired and annoyed. "Wouldn't have talked about it if we didn't need it!" Normally the one of the group who trips, the youngest of the group gets an affectionate look from him. It's rare that he shows any outward emotion to that extent, so consider it a reward. "Also? Everyone else in the world will be jealous of us."

Zaala typically snores her head off and tries to pull late shift. She'll work late into the evening rather than waking up early. Unfortunately, luck is not always on her side and she has to share the dreadful early mornings with the other teens of the Weyr. So it's more likely that she did in fact, stay up well into dawn. Maybe she pulled an all nighter at one of the taverns, or felt the tunnels needed some exploring after all the current gossip about it. Either way, she did notice the trio in the tunnels. They hadn't accounted for her presence amongst the guards - but it's likely near the tail end of their travels that she came across them and started to follow them. What were they up to? What did they take? Who were they? Why doesn't she recognize them? As quietly as she could, being as tired as she was from the night shift, her curiosity kept her awake and alert. Shuffling after them, only when she made sure they turned this corner or had gone far enough down that way, did she move. She was hesitating at the suspicious looking entry way when a patrol behind her forced her to break her cover, one way or the other. Be caught by the guards or be caught by the trio. Her foot steps are sudden and quick as she races up the stairwell, anticipating the trio having gone a certain distance before her… only to take a sharp inhale of breath when she appears and they're right -there- … stopped, with that object. "Oh…" shards.

"Trundlebug." The youngest boy mutters in that same flat tone to the lone girl of the trio with an insistent stare sent her way. "If yer going to use that stupid nickname you picked for me, at least use all of it. And you think everything is pretty." he grumbles. Trundlebug does fit his 'nickname' too. A bit on the pudgy side, he's more round than most boys his age and short to top it all off. He's a messy crop of hair that looks like it hasn't seen a comb in ages and his clothes are equally as rumpled and ill fitting, though he wears layers to make up for it. Wiping his nose on the back of his sleeve, he sniffles a bit and then rolls his eyes to the third of their group — the older boy. "Talk means nothing, Deadglow 'n you know it." Trundlebug continues to ramble on in that same singular tone. Sighing, he'll crouch and pick up his end with a grunt. "Let's go then. I'm tired and hungry. We takin' a short cut? Better watch out where you step Dead—-" Oh. A fourth voice? Abruptly his end is dropped again and hopefully everyone shifted their toes out of way! Trundlebug just stares at Zaala for so long it's a wonder if the boy just hasn't frozen in shock. The wheels of his mind turn slow, oh so slow. "Uh." Yep. Eyes dart to the girl and then Deadglow. Guys? Sis? What do they do?

Run? RUN? You expect Deadglow to run? He's a little more neat-looking than Trundlebug, but he still looks a little bit like a walking disaster and his badly-cut hair is falling in his face. This is part of his issue; he's slightly nearsighted as well, probably, and that just adds to the boy's general difficulties with grace. He tries, anyway, to run. And, of course, as predicted — he trips and falls flat on his face. Is that nose broken? Because it's bleeding.

Zaala's reaction to the 'run' is a surprised blink, then a frustrated, "Wha…. Wait! Hey! Ugh!" How dare they flee from her? It's not like she's some big old knot wearing person of authority. She's just a girl. She hesitates at the big thing that they dropped but is quick to start chasing, or, well, she doesn't have to chase too far or fast because the one called Deadglow trips and splats on the ground. Zaala makes it to his side, "Hey… woah, are you okay?! Oh shells, you're bleeding!"

If Needlethorn says to run, Trundlebug will run! But it takes him a moment to get it into gear. Plod, plod, skip-jump and THEN he's running… only to have to dodge around Deadglow with a growled startled sound when the older boy goes sprawling. Figures! It sends him off course though and he winds up losing his footing on the uneven ground and stumbling. He'll only fall on his knees, flailing and scrabbling to get back to his feet with a frightened look over his shoulder when Zaala catches up to Deadglow. Panicked, he seems torn which way to go, so long as neither ends up with him alone. His fallen comrade is closer… despite the strange girl being there and that is where he begins to stagger.

Needle swears under her breath, turning and darting back towards Trundlebug first, trying to haul him to his feet. "Go," she hisses at the younger boy, pushing him towards the trees. When she lets him go, she dashes towards Deadglow's side, and…jumps at Zaala.

At first, Deadglow doesn't say anything — or move. When he does move it's just to roll over and slowly inhale and exhale and put a hand to his face; ew, blood. Lots of blood. Metallic taste of blood. It's taking him an extra minute to process what's going on around him; there's a strange woman and then he had to go and fall and, "I'm okay," he wheezes, and then as she goes for Zaala, "Careful! We don't need both of us banged up —" Getting off the ground? Can wait.

Zaala seems concerned with the condition of 'Glow, though she's also frustrated at him, in a way that perhaps an older sibling would be to a younger one, weyrbrats, everyone is a sibling, "Why'd you have to go and run like that? Look what you did to yourself…" as if he could look, but she fishes out something from her pocket, a hankie, passing it toward Deadglow, "It's clean, I promise. I haven't used it at all and you look in need of it." But suddenly there's a girl throwing herself at Zaala, which earns a shrill: "Are you nuts?!" from Zaala as it's likely Zaala didn't prepare for the girl to body slam into her, as jumping turns into be. Zaala will try to wrangle the girl up, being older, maybe she has some leverage and can pin Needle down, or something.

Trundlebug is pushed and falls down hard on his rump. By the time he's recovered from his shock enough to glare at his sister, Needlethorn has already moved on and is… jumping Zaala? Eyes widen and then he's rolling onto his knees and scrabbling to his feet. No way is he going into that forest alone! Screw that. Off he goes and then he's at Deadglow's side while Needlethorn attempts to wrestle with Zaala. "Get up!" he says, his voice only lifting a bit from its usual monotone flatness. To emphasize what he cannot verbally, he'll prod his companion in the shoulder with his boot. Come ON!

Needlefights like a wild feline. She doesn't fight to hurt, she fights to /flee/. Nails and wiggling and thrashing, trying to get away - and give the boys time to get away, too.

Zaala doesn't fight often, in fact, she's probably the least likely too! She how she avoided the mud wrestling pit! She's suddenly hissing, "Quit it!! Ouch!" Yowling in between the nails biting and the thrashing that bruises here and there, but she means to hold onto an arm, or some part of the girl's frame. "The guards will hear if you don't quit fighting me! I'll scream and that'll get their attention!" Since there was a patrol near her, "I can help!" She tried, with the whole hankie thing, which, is sadly left heaped by Deadglow's feet.

Groan, says Deadglow, and then he is at least — trying — to get up. He's slow about it, but being booted in the shoulder (literally) is definitely incentive to get him to get onto his feet. Still bleeding, but at least he's smart enough to cover his face and try to prevent leaving an actual blood trail. Help from a stranger he won't be accepting, poor handkerchief; once he's gotten up — which is the third try, since he kept falling down again. Already not too graceful; a headwound as a loss of center of gravity sure doesn't help much. "Coming," he mutters, whilst scrambling after 'bug.

And here they groan at HIM for being the slow one? Trundlebug tries to grab hold of Deadglow's shoulder or arm, even if it's just a scrap of clothing to tug on the older boy. A few shambling steps forwards and then he's turning to where his sister continues to take on Zaala. "Needle!" he calls, still doing some odd sideways shuffle as he also shepards Deadglow on. Eyes widen even further at the threats coming from the strange girl and now his voice does take on a panicked edge. "We're going, we're going!" he protests, gesturing impatiently for Needlethorn to break away, not seeming to clue in that she may not be able to if Zaala grabs a hold of her.

Needle thrashes and then, in a last ditch effort, tries to /bite/ Zaala. Whether she does or not, she twists one last time and breaks away, bolting for the forest and trying to tug Trundlebug and Deadglow after her, moving swiftly.

Deadglow, at least, has finally made it properly to his feet and the others — and he's off running as best he can be, without any further falls. At least as long as they're in visual range of anyone else. Doesn't mean some of his nose blood doesn't drip to the ground, though, regardless of how hard he tries not to leave a trail.

Where's Abigail when Zaala needs her?! Abigail has the stronghold! Zaala doesn't. But at least against a younger girl, she might have a chance, but against a younger girl who has nothing to lose and is desperate to get away? That's another story. But she holds for a moment until those teeth start to sink into her arm! The instinct is to let go, wrench away and yelp! "You BIT me?! Who would do that?! I can't believe you BIT me!" She's totally at a loss for these wild kids, hand covering the teeth marks and the patchy redness that starts to show because of the bite mark, "She bit me!" With an exasperated huff, she scrambles to her feet, "WAIT! Come back here!" A beat, decision being made, with a begrudging, "Shells!" She bounds after them. "This is sooooo not my job!" She grumbles out as she runs after them, batting and flailing her arms wide to push branches aside, squeaking and yelping along the way as branches thwap her or she stubs a toe. With hair flying, she looks out of place with this sudden sprint through the woods!

Where she is out of place, Trundlebug is apparently right at home despite his chubby and short stature. Once he actually gets GOING, the boy can actually move and he follows Needlethorn and Deadglow into the forests. Huffing, he can hear Zaala's exclamations and he breathlessly mutters at his sister. "Why'd you do THAT to her? Now they're really going to come and find us! We're not suppose to hurt 'em!" Right? He seems so confused, along with being terrified. Because now there's the sound of pursuit and without even looking back to realize it's Zaala chasing them, he blurts out. "Guards!"

Needle shakes her head as she dodges and zips through the ruins, sometimes leading and other times pushing Trundlebug ahead of her. "I had no choice," she hisses at the younger boy. "Just keep moving. Go to camp redfruit. Hurry!"

At this point, Deadglow isn't even bad at hurrying. No tripping; he's fueled by adrenaline. "Worry about it later!"

Zaala is as determined as the kids. She's so close she can taste them! Not really, but revenge was supposed to be sweet right? A little dirt in Needle's face would fix it. She does hear the words of 'camp redfruit' … maybe that distraction alone is her eventual end in this chase. On moment she's running, nearly in arm's length… then the next minute there's a sudden dip in the forest floor or she just really sucks at this running through the woods thing. In short, the reason why the chase ends is not because she stops, but because she trips and goes down in a mess of flying blond hair and scrawny limbs, head over heels and all sorts of screwy. She's not one to cry, but when she comes face up from the tangle, she's favouring her knee, hands pulling her knee toward her chest. Looks like they're scraped up enough to cause tears to come to her eyes, gritting her teeth against the smarting pain. Nothing too serious, just dirt on her and small cuts face, rips in her blouse from the snagging tree branches that caught her on the way by, and now bruised and bleeding scraped up knees. "Ooo, not good…!" she spits on her knee, cause well, that's what some kids are told to do to! She does look around after a moment of huffing and puffing and gobbing on her knee, the trio no where to be seen and everything looking the same, "Oh great…" blink, "where the shells am I." Cause, those kids took her on a wild goose chase a good distance into the forest. Wobbling up onto her feet, she knows nothing of doubling back or tracking broken branches or foot prints in the grass or moss, and it's not muddy out to leave foot prints clearly in the dirt.

Trundlebug heeds his sister, until the sound of someone going down in the forest has him looking back. He half expects to see Deadglow sprawled out again or comically squished against the trunk of a tree but no, the older boy is keeping pace for once. So that means… "Think we lost her." But does that sound like regret? Or possible concern? Maybe he DOES feel bad, even if he isn't fully aware of Zaala's condition. His steps begin to falter, brows knitted but his mind is too slow to come to a conclusion and Needlethorn's pushing and hissed instructions have him trundling after her and Deadglow and disappearing among the trees. Poor Zaala will be left on her own, but not for very long. If she's smart enough, she won't panic and if she wanders she may very well be picked up by a Guard patrol, cross paths with hunters or other travelers if she's near enough to a main road or simply luck out and stumble on the ruins again. Regardless, there is the issue of that wrapped bundle the kids left behind. What was it anyways?

Luck has nothing to do with it. It's called having impressed a couple firelizards! Zaala will in short, have urgency enough to attract their attention, stumble back along until she gets to those ruins and the bundle that was abandoned… Indeed, what was it. Curiosity they say, kills the cat.

At least the bundle can't get up and run away. Nor does it bite! It'll just sit there, completely out of place and oh-so taunting. Come on! Open it! You know you want to. Wrapped in a cover (that was likely also stolen), when it is peeled back it will reveal a long and somewhat shallow and ornate trunk. Not too heavy on its own, what made it so awkward for the trio of youths to carry was that it is filled with supplies that weighed it down. Food stuffs, dried goods, clothes, what looks to be survival gear and whatever other odds and ends one would need to possibly rough it out in the forests has been crammed in there. Literally! Zaala has found the payload of incriminating evidence. Almost worth the skinned knees and bruises (and the bite… which she really should have checked. Humans are filthy!)? Now comes the FUN part. Who does she decide to report to? Headwoman Talica? Or right to the source: the Weyrleadership and Staff? Or… no one?

'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.