Hike at Twilight

Somewhere in Fort's Forests…


The evening is clear and cool, summer’s heat fading away swiftly in the forest, though the weyr walls still retain much of the warmth from the day. Which is why Kimmila is in the forest, walking through the woods on quiet trails, on silent feet. She carries her bow, but more for habit and protection than any desire to actively hunt. As the light fades and the stars emerge, she continues her quiet walk, waiting for someone to join her.

Are those Weyr walls still standing, at least? The last few days have been a nightmare after the collapse of the upper levels on one face of the northern bowl. Gone are the wing lounges and the rooms that occupied those halls. Gone is the stone bridge too, though tentative examinations of the damage have brought a glimmer of hope that it may be salvageable — in time. It’s all going to take time! Meanwhile, Th’ero has had his hands full and almost a near constant headache driving his temper to breaking point. Most are steering well clear of the Weyrleader and many have learned to stop asking questions. So it’s no wonder that he comes out here to the forests as the light fades and the stars come out. The peace and quiet is very welcomed and so will the presence of another so familiar to him. “Wingmate,” he calls, after making sure that she’s caught sight of him stepping out from the trees.

Wouldn’t be good for him to startle her and her to shoot him with an arrow, now would it? It’s just the sort of thing their nerves would do, though, so she’s grateful for the warning even though she knew he was coming. With a smile, she shifts her bow to her left hand and reaches out with her right towards him. “Evening,” she says with a small smile, her eyes scanning his face - or what she can see in this light.

Won’t be the first or the last time he’ll be shot through with an arrow? “What’re you doing out here so late?” Th’ero asks while stepping in towards Kimmila’s side and drawing her arm around him. Likewise he will slip his arm around her and keep a careful watch on the ground so they don’t end up tripping and taking each other out. One disaster at a time, please! “Hunting, again?”

Kimmila smiles, leaning briefly against him before she has to give herself some space so they can walk without tripping over each other. “After Weyr Collapses, Weyrleader Breaks Leg on Hike” would not be the best Harper news. “No, no, nothing like that. I needed to get out.” Get out of the dust, the negativity, the shock, the weight of (literal) tons of stone. To be free. She fidgets a bit when she walks, shifting her bow, her fingers moving constantly against the wood and against his side.

‘Weyrleader’s weyrmate and controversial weyr-third also cracks skull. Shenanigans suspected!’ Would make an interesting follow-up for the gossip mills though! Th’ero doesn’t laugh or even break much of a smile. He knows full well what Kimmila meant and implied in that brief reply. “It is peaceful out here,” he agrees as he walks along the clearer paths, still keeping Kimmila as close to his side as possible. “We’ve more miners and Minecrafters coming in tomorrow — or so we’ve been promised. They’ll be evaluating everything soon but… I don’t think this will be a quick fix, Wingmate. At least we can be thankful that the Hatching grounds are spared. Kouzevelth should be clutching soon.” And the last thing they need are faulty sands or a smashed clutch.

There are always shenanigans to be suspected. Kimmila casts her eyes skyward briefly, then along the path once more. “Mmm,” she murmurs with a small nod. “Do we have room inside the weyr or do we need to start setting up camps outside the walls?” She shakes her head. “No, it won’t be a quick fix. That much is clear. Have you heard any mutterings of people wanting to move and leave Fort?”

“We’ll know soon from the Master Minecrafters and the rest after they’ve completed their survey.” Th’ero’s voice takes on a grim note and he’ll chance a sidelong look to Kimmila while slowing his pace. “We won’t have the room to handle an evacuation of the lower caverns. There’s only so many ground weyrs and rooms and many are already occupied. Never mind that we’ll lose the caverns and kitchens too. So we’d have to relocate everyone - everything - outside.” Not an easy task and he’s already dreading that nightmare. He’ll have to redirected so much within the Wings to organize that task. He doesn’t envy Nyalle or the junior weyrwomen their hand in this either. “Not at the moment but if it comes down to it? We may have some who wish to leave. We can’t stop them and truthfully? It may very well help us in the end.”

Kimmila nods slightly, brows furrowed and thoughtful. “What if we used the barracks? The Candidate barracks? Let the Candidates start off in the Weyrling barracks - there’s room. We can use the Candidate Barracks for temporary housing, and maybe even set up part of it as the kitchens. Start people building a temporary kitchen in the bowl, perhaps? Something sturdy, made of wood and stone. More than just a tent. We’re going to need shelter. I shudder to think but this probably won’t be resolved before winter.”

Th’ero frowns and he has to stop all together in order to mull over her suggestions thoughtfully (and properly). “Kouzevelth will clutch soon. I’ll have to discuss this with Nyalle and Inri, perhaps Thys and Jajen as well. M’icha and Am’ry should be informed, since they’ll be overseeing much of the Candidates — and I can tell you right now, M’icha won’t like it.” he admits with a grimace. Stubborn old bluerider. “We won’t be able to house everyone in the Barracks but perhaps essential personnel can choose to relocate there.” Ouch. It makes perfect sense, though. Even if it’s bound to piss off some of those on the lower ranks. “At least we have the seasons working in our favor for once. Building a temporary kitchen should be the least of our worries.”

Kimmila shrugs. “There’s plenty of old tunnels in Fort - it’s just convincing folks to trust them. What about all the space beneath the lower caverns? Have those tunnels and rooms been checked out? Old weyrs? Maybe we can move some low weyr riders up higher and build staircases up to the lowest weyrs for folks.” She’s rambling a bit, her words fidgeting much like her fingers are still doing as she moves, still restless as the stars begin to emerge. “Pft. Of course M’icha won’t like it. But too bad. He can’t have /both/ barracks for his riders, and leave other folks out in the cold. Maybe some of the larger holds and cotholds can take people in for the season. Always plenty of work to be done…”
Th’ero shakes his head, “If they deem it unsafe, even for the smallest of reasons, all the lower levels will have to be cleared out as precaution. I’d prefer to have that nightmare on our hands than having to deal with the loss of weyrfolk trapped under Faranth knows how many tons of stone.” Dark and rather gruesome, but it’s a valid point. “We can’t move every rider from the ground weyrs either. Most are there for a reason. Injury, age…” he shrugs and with a sigh, begins to move alongside Kimmila again. “It’d have to be the Holds, if it comes to it. We’ve the Amethyst in the Pines camp but even that won’t hold too many. Again, we’ll have to restrict to priority of rank. The very young cannot go far either or the families tied to them.” Everyone else though? You’re out!

Kimmila nods. “I know, but if they /are/ safe, we can move folks down there. The camp is a good idea too.” She pauses to bend and tighten the laces on her boots before moving forward again. “And the holds.” She exhales softly. “What a mess.”

“We might have a hard time convincing some that it IS safe,” Th’ero mutters darkly, ducking his head down under a low branch as the trail bends and leads them back into the trees. “It could be far worse, Wingmate. At least our Sands haven’t been damaged?” It could have been so much worse. Seeking to lighten the mood, he adds: “I’ve half a mind to ground Rinxyth next goldflight. He’s caught Rhenesath and now Kouzevelth. If he catches Iaverulth, he’d have made it through our juniors.” Yet he doesn’t mention Kayeth’s name.

Kimmila huffs. “I’d rather the Sands had been damaged - again - than the caverns!” She lifts a brow at him and then smirks, recognizing that he’s joking. “Think he’s going to give Velo a run for the Weyrleadership?”

Th’ero turns long enough to give Kimmila a long, lingering look. “Completely unusable? You’d want that? Then what would we do? Which Weyr would we beg to send Kouzevelth to and then just hope that the Weyrlings will return to Fort when all is said and done? We’ll survive without the caverns for a spell IF it comes to that.” Clearly he missed the memo about it being a joke. He’s tired, he can be forgiven? “I’d like to see him try but I almost wonder if letting a challenge like that be voiced that Rinxyth might actually try and Velokraeth would barb him mercilessly.”

Kimmila nods. “We would find a way to make it work. Easier to sort that out than hundreds of people and families and food…” Ugh. It makes her fidget to think about it, and she presses on. “I think it would. Those bronzes have their pride, no doubt.”

Th’ero chuckles dryly even if his expression still holds considerable stress and grimness to it. “It won’t just be us handling this, Wingmate. For once most of this is out of our hands. It’s all of ours to deal with.” he murmurs quietly. “There’s no way Rinxyth would win… or any brown. It’s unheard of.” Ouch. Showing your traditionalist side there, Th’ero?

Kimmila smirks. “Don’t underestimate the browns, wingmate, less you find yourself eating your words someday.” Like so often happens, eventually. She shrugs. “Doesn’t matter what we would have chosen anyway, this is what we’re stuck with.”

Th’ero snorts, “I’m well aware of that superstition of jinxing yourself. Velokraeth will not lose Kayeth so easily. Not since Zhirazoth and that whole sharding disaster with Mr’az.” It’s been what… a few Turns now since that all happened? You’d think he’d forgive the bronzerider by now. Apparently not (completely). “So we’ll make it work, then and just hope that the damage does not go further than it already has.”

Kimmila nods. “I can’t imagine having to leave Fort. These stones have stood for too long to abandon us now, threadless skies or not.”

“We’re not going to lose Fort.” Th’ero assures her and appears steadfast and confident in his opinion. “Even if most of it were to collapse, we’d find a way to make it work. We’ll get through this too.”

Kimmila nods, moving away from him a bit as the trail narrows. “Right,” she says, her focus shifting to other things as she moves forward through the forest, leaving the worries of Fort behind - for now - in favor of a good hike.


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