Fort Weyr - Lakeshore
This lake shares many features common to mountain lakes — a brilliant blue jewel nestled amongst the rocks. The waters are crystal clear, and the north shore slopes gently before abruptly falling away into the depths. This lake does have one significant differentiating feature, however. The south shore of the lake is a tumbled mass of rubble, rock and earth of an ancient rockslide smoothed only by the elements in the intervening years. This rubble, as well as the rather sheer east and west faces, makes for the north shore to be the only one easily accessible.
Springs arrival is noted by the disappearing lake ice. As it melts it breaks up into smaller icy bergs. These bob randomly throughout the choppy waters, slowly disappearing as the temperatures rise. They also frequently provide sport and entertainment for the bathing dragons. The emerging shoreline is inviting, though the water remains chilly for their human counterparts. As spring draws nearer to summer, the waters begin to feel quite invigorating with Rukbat's growing shine.

A light snow falls, despite the month now being well into spring. Winter doesn't seem to want to let go of the region and while the last few days have been seasonably mild, the weather has now turned cold again. Not cold enough, however, to keep the Weyrlingmaster from cheerfully waking his weyrlings up at their usual dawn hour and setting them to their usual paces. Dragon care, breakfast, straps, stretches and… orders to meet up at the lake, mounted and strapped in and dressed accordingly. The lake shore is all but deserted, whether by the day's weather or by M'icha's request. Just as the training field has been transformed in the past, now is the shoreline from one end to the other as the ground has literally been turned into a temporary obstacle course, designed specifically for the weyrling dragons at their current stage of growth. Aycheth is up on a nearby ledge to observe as always, while M'icha waits below leaning heavily on his cane and with a lopsided smirk that doesn't quite hide the pain in his eyes. The weyrling's should tread lightly today, as he's no doubt a bit prickly with his leg aching him. In fact, they better hurry as he's already begun to mutter under his breath to the AWLMs beside him. "You'd think they'd learn to hustle it by now!" Growl, grumble, mutter.

Ah spring…the feel of winter snow in the air? Anique seems to have no disgruntled thoughts over the snow falling for she's been here for a number of turns now. Weather will happen regardless so she very rarely complains over it. Bundled up a bit she was actually awake just before the rest of them are woken up for their early mooring activities. Throughout, Typriaeth is kept in the loop, gossiping with the other dragons or simply adding her own remarks to Anique at whatever point in the activities they are at. Now that all that's done, the now 20 foot long green ambles along with her (boring) straps on as they both head to the lake shore. Quickly salutes are snapped towards the directions of the older riders as both green and weyrling present themselves for the lesson today.

Just moments after Anique and Typriaeth's entrance come So'l and Sharuth, the bronze now almost 40 feet in length - twice his green clutchsister's size but nowhere near as social. While Typriaeth gossips about, Sharuth keeps mostly to himself, though he does offer greetings of his own, his mental touch tinged with sunbeams and pine trees. Looking very comfortable atop the bronze is his rider, So'l, who is leading the dragon down towards the lakeshore with a determined pace. 'Are you ready for this, Sharuth?' he sends to the bronze. «I am always ready for whatever we must learn,» Sharuth replies. Nodding, So'l pats the bronze affectionately on the side before the pair comes to rest near M'icha and Anique. "Good morning, Weyrling Master. Assistant Weyrling Masters," the rider nods his head to them all with respect. "Hey Anique," So'l grins at the former assistant head woman. «You look very green today, Typriaeth,» Sharuth greets as well.

Aycheth rumbles low and gruffly in his throat as he spies the approaching Weyrlings and M'icha goes silent with his grumblings but not with one last muttered. "About time!" Gesturing with a few points and signals to the Assistant Weyrlingmasters, he sends them off to key points among the obstacle course while he turns to address the gathering group. His limp is very pronounced this morning and he only takes a few steps before he stops and decides to pitch his voice instead. The salutes are returned, that at least bringing an approving look to his features before they settle back into a frown. "Everyone into standard ground formation! So'l and Anique at lead!" he barks out and by now the weyrlings should know he means the 'card' position, which is essentially a square — or in this case a rectangle as they only have enough to go by rows of two rather than three. All grasp it, save for S'ki and N'an to which M'icha promptly banishes them to the back with a scowl and a few snarky comments. "We'll be doing some practical formation work today! Or at least as much as can be done while you're still grounded. That obstacle course over there," He juts his thumb over his shoulder. "Is designed to make you lot think like a group and keep to formation despite changes to your surroundings. Flyin' is the same thing. Thermals and wind will always be at work! So we're going to get you all as up to speed as possible. Understood? Keep yer heads about you, this ain't no obstacle race and anyone foolish enough to dive headlong into it will pay for it in injury! We'll be startin' with you going in pairs. Any questions?"

« I am green every day. » remarks Typrieath with a hint of puzzlement to her tone. « Then you are looking quite bronze today. » she adds after a moment's thought. Ah…so this is the reason of the obstacle course that lay before them. With a nod and mental nudge, Typ and Anique move into proper position at lead with So'l. "No questions sir!" she calls out before giving So'l a 'ready?' look.

"None here, either," So'l nods to M'icha and then Anique. No hello this morning? Either he's done something wrong or the woman is just very focused. Sharuth is given visualization on what he must do - to which the bronze softly reminds So'l that he already knows — and then dragon and rider are moving into the proper position, the latter turning his head to look back at the group. F'rari is generally in the right place but a bit far back. Making eye contact, So'l motions him forward until he's got the right distance down. Smiling with encouragement, he turns back and waits for further instructions.

M'icha nods his head, pleased and relieved not to be pelted with questions though he's ignoring the pleading look from S'ki. Shards, that bluerider needs to grow a backbone! Marin is behind So'l and Anique and she keeps turning her head to peer over her shoulder at her brother, while N'an just looks… bored and not at all bothered that he's been shunned to the back and his blue, Zleeth looks to already be dozing again. Zzz. M'icha backs up a few paces and then lifts his hand up in what should be the familiar 'hold or 'wait' hand signal. Another tidbit the Weyrlings are learning. "Go through at a forwards walk! No idling or balking. Keep this formation! Those in lead set the pace, the rest of you follow and talk to each other. If you need to slow up, give warning! Treat this as though you were truly flyin' and working through thermals or wind and weather changes. Keep alert!" He will wait for that to sink in before dropping the signal. Go!

The lake shore starts off normal enough but as the first obstacles are reached it's obvious that once again the Weyrlingmaster staff have been very crafty and sneaky. The path is laid out with markers so they will know in what order to go. Most of the changes in terrain are all but invisible, nothing more than subtle changes in the level of the ground which will cause some weyrlings to suddenly veer, gain or lose height and distance which in turn will force them to adjust in order to keep formation and avoid colliding with each other. The course also narrows and widens, twists back on itself and in some instances sometimes jump. Either all as a group or only one side. Tricky, very tricky.

Most likely it's simply focus on the half of the green rider who hasn't even noticed she didn't greet So'l. Perhaps she thought she already did? She listens closely to M'icha though not before she gives a quick look back to those behind her and a Look is cast towards N'an at his 'bored' look. Pay attention is what her own look says before her head snaps forward once more. "Alright then Tie." she murmurs, pausing at the now familiar wait signal from the WLM. Then they are going forward as they can. "Careful." is reminded to which Typriaeth offers a snort. She knows! Forward slowly..they start to navigate with caution. "Be careful here! Dip int he ground." is warned backwards to those behind her as Typriaeth goes down into the dip then back up with no hesitation. « Air would be easier to see. We should do this is the skies. » she argues this. So far she handles the twists and sudden narrowed sections easily enough with Anique sometimes calling out to So'l and the others where to be careful for.

The bronzerider appreciates Anique's warnings though he's hardly as in need of them as those who follow behind. At the lead beside her, he and Sharuth are keeping pace and encountering the same dips and rises in time with the green and her rider. While Anique is vocally sharing warnings and directives, So'l decides to take another approach. "Sharuth, I want you to start sending images back to the others. We're in the lead and they'll appreciate knowing what's ahead. Besides, if we're going to be doing this in the sky later, yells may not be heard over wind and weather." «Of course! I will bespeak them,» Sharuth confirms the order, then broadcasts images of what they're encountering, especially helpful as the course narrows ahead. "Tighten up," So'l orders, knowing Sharuth will relay that, too.

M'icha hangs back and watches from a distance, with Aycheth relaying what he needs to know back to him. The Weyrlingmaster will cross his arms over his chest and from where he stands he looks in a fowl mood when really he is simply deep in thought and also caught between private discussions. A brow quirks and then both lift as So'l takes a surprising initiative and also recognizes the pitfall of speaking verbally. That earns a faint smile and a snort. "Bronzeriders." the bluerider mutters, though he seems pleased by Anique's ability to keep Typriaeth in pace to the much larger Sharuth as lead partner and vice versa. The others seem to be adjusting to both their leading weyrling's orders and their own instincts and understanding. At least until Marin fowls up, having broken concentration with Devinth in order to check on her brother and so misses her brown's relay. The result has her lifemate balking at the next obstacle, confused when his rider beings to think against what was instructed and almost has N'an's Zleeth ramming straight into their backside. S'ki and Jadzeth also over compensate, tripping up the next in front of them as the blue tries to skip forwards. Cue a few startled complaints from dragon and riders alike and M'icha grimaces but does not come to their aid quite yet, though Aycheth's mind reaches out to all. « Focus! » the dark blue barks just like his rider. « If this had been done in the air, you'd all be dropping by the skies and vulnerable to the wind and elements. Get it together! Sharuth and Typriaeth, you may return and reform by M'icha. » Two more are called, leaving only the four to complete the course in full. Once all have returned and reformed the original formation, M'icha is issuing the next orders but reshuffling the orders. Now Sharuth is in the middle with his larger clutchsbiling and at the front leads F'rari and S'ki. The bronze is now wedged in the middle and surrounded by dragons much smaller than he… which should make pacing incredibly challenging. What, no break? "Now you'll repeat it again… but at a lope." Oh joy. Faster now? "If you fumble, don't panic! Talk and regroup! You know the formations by now. Stay in basic but now I want to see you guys use your wits, which I know you have! Understood? When ready… move forwards!"

And it was going so well, too. Sharuth had done a fantastic job of relaying orders but - clearly - other pairs struggled with attentiveness. And one slip up in the wing could mean trouble for them all, as Marin just demonstrated. Having made it through this part of the course, though, So'l gives Anique a congratulatory smile and the pairs return as called. Sharuth's eyes whirl up at Aycheth, the blue's directives received, acknowledged, and appreciated. His mind gently touches the blue's and gratitude is directed his way. Then So'l is directing the bronze into a new position and Sharuth initially balks. «I am feeling pinned in! I do not want to collide!» the bronze grumbles. 'Then be attentive to the others' positions. If they get to close, warn them. We know the positions,' So'l gently encourages back. With a whuffle of renewed confidence, Sharuth prepares to go off again…at a faster pace this time. "F'rari," the bronzerider calls forward, "Ski. Make sure to send us what you're seeing up there. Otherwise a huge lump of bronze could accidentally injure the others…" And then they're off again…

M'icha again is hanging back to observe and Aycheth from his vantage point will miss very little! Not to mention details are also being sent by the AWLMs from their positions, ready to send their observations in but also come to the aid of any who stumble or hurt themselves. As necessary as this training is, they take every precaution with it! S'ki starts a bit when So'l is asking him to relay back and while Jadzeth rumbles the affirmative (oh, how he loves puzzles!), his rider doesn't seem so certain. Which, of course, leads to conflict. « Veer right… no, left! Upward slant ahead with a bottleneck so we should slow… no, faster! Wait —! Change formations! » And so forth, which has Marin shouting at her brother from the back and the whole rhythm begins to fall apart as no one can quite make sense of what the blue weyrling is trying to convey, despite any attempt on F'rari to correct. So it will be up to the others to pick up the slack and while the AWLMs wait, tense and apprehensive, M'icha just watches with a scowl set on his features to see if the weyrlings flounder or if some actually have the ability to think outside of the box and see the few options open to them. He did give specific orders and yet… orders are meant to be bent and broken, aren't they?

'Please bespeak Jadzeth. Tell him to keep S'ki focused on just relaying images of the terrain, not giving directions,' So'l asks of Sharuth. «Of course,» the bronze replies. "F'rari," the bronzerider calls out audibly, "/you/ give the orders but let S'ki and Jadzeth visualize the terrain for us. Divvy up the work." So'l is by no means the boss here but - having learned such in the Woodcraft Hall as an apprentice - sometimes you just have to step in when things get muddy and leadership is not present. "We'll help by visualizing the formation from back here for you," the bronzerider says. "Help you see what potential adjustments need to be made." F'rari and S'ki may be in the lead but that doesn't mean guidance of the wing belongs solely to them; they're /all/ in this together. And as the group continues forward, So'l and Sharuth work to help reinforce directions given and add their own commentary on upcoming terrain, as remembered from their stint as lead only minutes ago.

S'ki looks downright mortified at the mess he's made, but Jadzeth welcomes the instructions from Sharuth and relays back his understanding and begins to visualize rather than give the directions which puts that firmly back into F'rari's control at the lead. The others fall into place eventually though it takes some time for the scattered group to pull together and they manage! Only Zleeth, lazy and clumsy (and half asleep) bungles up again as he clips one of the jumps too close and ends up sprawling nose first into the slushy ground. THAT wakes him up and with a grunt the blue is shaking himself off while N'an leans in the straps to check for any injuries. None sustained and another weyrling takes their place until they can catch up again. « Return! » Aycheth calls. « See what happens when you do not focus as a team, either as a whole group or on a personal scale? No matter. We will drill you again. And again! Until it sinks in. » Yay? M'icha does not look so pleased this time as he limps his way up to greet the weyrlings, promptly gesturing for N'an and S'ki to have their lifemates step aside. "You two are going to the barracks with one of the Assistant Weyrlingmasters for some refreshers. Off with you now!" Now the group is down to six and the Weyrlingmaster eyes them all under a heavy scowl. "We'll have one more go before we break for lunch. So'l, I want you at lead again with F'rari." And he will 'stack' the others into groups of two as well, staggering them behind each other. Satisfied, he goes on with his instructions. "Keep it at a lope again! So'l and F'rari" He will wait until he has the weyrlings attention and the Weyrlingmaster grimaces. Here comes the challenge! "At the bottle neck, and the two midway points where the ground is flat, that will be when I want you to change formations. Go from basic to straight line and then both v-formations. I leave it to you to figure out which go when." Smirk. "Now go!" Backing away, it will be Aycheth who speaks up next. « Keep aware of where you all are. Take note of the ground and match which formation suits it. Just like you would in the air. A narrow space would not do for a broad formation, for instance. » Hint, hint!

As M'icha indicates So'l and F'rari to lead again, the bronzer nods confidently and moves into the forward right position. F'rari takes forward left and then the two consult for a moment. "I'll handle the orders if you'll tackle visualizations?" When the affirmative nod is given, So'l turns upon his saddle to look back at Anique. "Mind giving us a rear-view picture of the formations?" Nodding to the woman, So'l smiles at the (now smaller) group of weyrlings and their riders. "Everyone stay focused," he firmly encourages without sounding bossy. "We'll be leading but it's up to /you/ to stay aware of your surroundings and follow our example." With one last nod, So'l turns firmly forward and says, "Let's go!" As a group, they more quickly move forward, firmly in 'Card' formation. After a couple of dips and a slant left, they come upon the bottleneck and So'l pats Sharuth's side. "Please relay: straight line formation, maintain pace and dragonlength distance." «F'rari and his are doing well with visualizing the course,» Sharuth replies, also acknowledging the order relay. Bespeaking them all - even Aycheth, to keep him in the loop, the bronze says, «One line, a dragonlength between each of us. Tell your riders, please.» The group of six indeed form into a single line as they head loping into the bottleneck.

As they come out, the next hurdle is the debris-strewn field, dipping up and down. As F'rari and his dragon send back visualizations, So'l and Sharuth direct the others into a reverse vee formation with orders to spread out just enough to avoid the debris chunks. Assembling into the formation - which isn't quite symmetrical given their numbers - they make it through the field and onto the last clearing. The jump is ahead and this time, So'l orders - via Sharuth - a forward vee, so that no one will collide on the other side of the leap. Running forward at the vee's peak, Sharuth gracefully hops, flaring his wings out to provide a little bit of extra air time, though it isn't much. With a thud, they land and dart forward, So'l turning back for a moment to watch the others attempt the jump

It will be much like listening to the transmissions coming in from a radio as So'l takes lead and works with the others. Voices reply, often so swift and brief that it's difficult at first to pinpoint who is who though given the nature of the messages it's not necessary. Slowly, the weyrlings are all beginning to realize what it means to work as one cohesive group and as Sharuth relays the formation changes, there is little hiccup or hesitation. The cross-overs work easily on ground, it will be in the air where they'll be tested again! With N'an and S'ki gone, all clear the jump though a few are wobbly on recovery before darting ahead again. « Excellent! » Aycheth's voice dips in, brushing up against all the young minds. « That is what needs to be done! You may return now. You've earned your rest. » M'icha will be waiting for them again, his grimace still in place but crooked as it wars with the pleased look in his eyes. "Well, well! So you lot proved you can pull yourselves together and work as a team. Good! This is promising. Have your lifemates walk around for a bit to cool down and stretch out!" he orders, though gestures to So'l to approach on Sharuth, even if it means the Weyrlingmaster has to crane his head up. "Good show of judgement and leadership. You, as well as F'rari and Anique seem to be gettin' the hang of this. Think you may be up to some additional work in aiding your struggling comrades? N'an and S'ki can't keep fallin' behind as they are." M'icha informs him gravely. "So I suppose this is a last effort to get 'em to speed." If Sharuth doesn't walk too quickly, the bluerider will try to limp alongside the pair as he continues to speak. "And how do you feel after this exercise? Prepared for the skies?"

«We did it!» Sharuth exclaims to Jadzeth, Typriaeth, and the others. «We have accomplished much today,» the bronze sends with great pride. Eyes whirling happily as they're all called back, Sharuth cranes his neck to peer up at So'l. «I did well?» he asks privately, knowing the answer but needing to actually /hear/ it from his lifemate. 'You did /great/,' So'l sends back. 'We should be proud but we still have work to do,' he says, tempering the bronze's excitement and pride with a little bit of reality. «Of course! But we did /well/ today and that makes me happy.» "Me too, Shar. Me too," So'l grins, guiding the dragon back towards M'icha. "Well done," he smiles to the other riders en route. When he's solely directed to come forward, though, a lick of fear darts through So'l's mind until M'icha begins offering praise. "Thank you, sir," he replies, his smile widening at the commendation on his judgment and leadership. Maybe he has a knack for this sort of thing? It certainly surprises him, that's for sure.

But then M'icha is asking if he would help N'an and S'ki to come up to speed and suddenly So'l isn't so certain. Teaching someone else? Er… «You are well suited to that, So'l. You have taught me much and I can help, through their lifemates.» The bronzerider considers this for a moment and then nods. "We would be happy to help however we can," So'l nods respectfully. "Thank you for the opportunity to assist." As for M'icha's other question, well… "You know, we've been studying the formations but it wasn't until today that I actually really /got/ them," he smiles down at the Weyrling Master, who is keeping up with Sharuth's slow pace. "I /do/ feel confident about trying this in the air. However, Sharuth and I have much work to do before we're ready for that." Work like actually a) /learning/ to fly and b) becoming proficient at doing it together.

The other weyrlings are content to drift off as they walk their lifemates around, each looking confident and happy both from So'l's praise and M'icha's. Anytime they can escape the Weyrlingmaster's wrath is a good day! The bluerider keeps alongside Sharuth, his head tilted up to peer at the bronze weyrling up in the saddle. Part of being a good possible leader is showing the ability to teach and support, so perhaps this is a veiled test of sorts from M'icha. Something he will no doubt do to the other Weyrlings as well as training progresses! "Don't thank me quite yet. You may be cursing my name after trying to work with those two. They've got it in them, they're just shardin' slow about coming around to it. So an extra kick ought to be enough." he drawls with a gruff chuckle, only to nod his head. "That's cause the only real way to learn 'em is to work through them. Keep studying and as I'll tell the others… remember that there are other formations too." And M'icha taps the side of his head with a crooked grin. "Ones that ain't on paper or even really formal. That's what makes a good rider! For now we keep you to the basics we know but when it comes time for you to be a full fledged rider you will face trials where you can't stick entirely by the books. Think on that for a bit!" Stepping aside, M'icha has to stop as his steps have become a bit more labored and he is using his cane heavily now. "Oh yes, much work to go yet but I don't think you and Sharuth have much to worry about if you continue on as you are. All in good time! They're close to ready for unmanned flight and it's all downhill," Or uphill! "From there. Now go on. Back to the barracks!" M'icha lifts his voice on that last half, signalling to the weyrlings to group up and head out. The AWLMs are already dismantling the obstacle course and Aycheth has glided down from his ledge to collect his rider. Now the Weyrlings are free for a short span, to rest and recover from the morning drill and lesson and give time for M'icha to recover as well. No doubt the next half of the day will be more work but there is no hint as to what exactly it will be.