Fort Weyr - Mountain Pass- Cliff Side Trail

Steep terrain makes the path more treacherous as the foothills transition into mountainous rock. The elevation is evident as the climate is cooler and often has a bite to it. The path continues around large boulders and over loose shale, zigzagging back and forth to avoid the sheer cliff faces that require a little more effort than just walking to get up them. In some places the path turns into mud, especially slick after snow melts or rainy days. In other places, durable little tuffs of wild grass and other mountainous vegetation find room to grow, but its definitely sparse. Yet, theres the odd cliff face that has allowed a coniferous tree to root in the ground and hang onto the rock, so its not completely barren.

Up ahead, the climb gets worse. The trail becomes narrow and skims the boarders of sheer drops at the same time as almost going vertical. Its a challenge to hike, but if one can get through it, the rim promises a hidden treasure. Meanwhile, the east trail seems easier and theres a thrumming sound coming from its direction, almost like the rush of a waterfall.

Once the final report from S'ai is made, and the sketch is finished, a plan is more firmly established and the necessary folks are contacted? Dtirae's plan is enacted: Scouts are placed in the general vicinity of the escaped arsonist, word spreads that the Weyr knows exactly where he is and are going to strike in the next few days. If he wants to escape? The time is now. No matter how the information got leaked, it's been leaked and the scouts are notified to be alert of any movement, no matter how small. They know his face, there is no hiding.

Naturally, Br'enn volunteered to be among the scouts to track the arsonist down. He's decided to take the fire a little personally on Tovihasuth's behalf; it was his bronze's first time on the Sands as a clutchfather and he was partly responsible for the majority of those eggs after all. Br'enn himself is affronted by the attack on his home aside from that, so… Arrows are at the ready in his quiver, one already nocked as he waits and watches, his eyes no less keen than they'd been before riderhood.

Among the searchers is the one who caught the quarry's face. S'ai is there, one firelizard on each shoulder - the blue and brown remaining startlingly quiet. No doubt Zeruth is there with them, even if there's no sign of the dragon himself to keep a low profile. He's near Dtirae, keeping close to the weyrwoman to be there to help confirm any sightings that may come through the line. There's most decidedly a long knife hooked to his belt, but more there's an uncharacteristic fury in his eyes that makes the young man seem taller and older for it. No games tonight.

The dull shuffle of rhythmic footsteps are shockingly loud in these tree-flanked and scorched ruins, every other one accompanied by the protest of the remnants of the cothold's wood flooring. Vossler's squat form ghosts past the gaping teeth of what used to be windows. His arms are wrapped tightly around his torso, each hand rubbing the bicep of its opposite limb in a frenetic attempt at self-soothing. All the while, a never-ending soliloquy of mutters trail behind him. "Shoulda got… no right to be out… t'was our place, it was, oh my Riska, my Riska. … where…"

Zuvaleyuth serves as Dtirae's voice to the other dragonriders in silent communication of the various happenings in the woods. Those without dragons communicate an 'all clear' in different, discreet manners. So far? All is silent on the front. With S'ai near her, Dtirae signals for the bronzerider to follow as she ventures in closer to the ruins. There's two knives on her belt — as always. She is prepared for the worst. And she's breaking the circle of the scouts, but, clearly, the arsonist is not making a run for it. As they venture closer, the loud footsteps has her signaling for S'ai to stop. Zuvaleyuth relays the information: « Dtirae advises caution, signal for those without dragons to begin their approach. Move slowly, she insists. They do not have definite proof, but, there is something. Act with caution. Move with — Be careful. »

Tovihasuth is there as well - out of sight, but a steady and bolstering presence nonetheless. He relays Zuvaleyuth's message quickly, and Br'enn raises a hand, signaling the dragonless scouts with him to start closing in. Sharp ears pick up footsteps and - he thinks - muttering, prompting a slight tightening of grip on his bow as he advances. Aside from his weapon of choice, he carries a long knife of his own. Hopefully he won't have to use it.

S'ai pauses at the signal from Dtirae, head tilting as he receives the gold's words through Zeruth. Wherever the bronze is, he's not showing himself but he's likely close to his rider and his immediate presence is well clear to the other riders. There's a finger held up before his mouth before he nods to the two firelizards who take flight and quickly disperse into the nearby trees.

Quite abruptly, so much so that he nearly stumbles, Vossler stops in his tracks. He holds his hands out in front of him, palms up, and stares at them for long, long moments. The insects in the trees once again take up their chorus, now that he's fallen silent for long enough in frowning contemplation of his strong hands. Slowly, he brings his arms up and his fingers twine painfully through the tangles of his greasy hair and pull HARD, his head turning back and forth. Starting out in barely a whisper, he starts repeating, "no no no No No NO NO NO," increasing in volume until the words pull together in a raspy, shrieking howl, and he falls to his knees, sobbing brokenly.

As the muttering comes to a stop, and the sound of movement follows, Dtirae holds position. For just a moment, trying to gage where, exactly, the man is. Then? Then he starts again, but his cries of 'no' become howls. Zuvaleyuth calls forth, again, ushering the teams forward while Dtirae drops her signal to S'ai. A quick glance at the bronzerider before she grins and nods. Why the grin? Because she's taking off in pursuit of the sobbing man. When he's down, he'll be easier to catch, right? Zuvaleyuth doesn't bugle, but aside to Tovihasuth and Zeruth, she comments. « My rider is being reckless, I kindly request yours to follow. Despite reports, he may not be alone. She seems to forget this fact. »

At the next relay from Tovihasuth, Br'enn pauses, rolls his eyes a bit, and reaches out to tap the shoulder of the man nearest him. "Take point," he orders at a whisper, and then the bronzer stalks forward, silent in spite of his pace. He can't follow exactly, being almost directly across from where Dtirae and S'ai are…but he can start circling a little closer, staying low to lessen the possibility of anyone within seeing him.

«Mine is on it, though he is hardly a paragon of wise decisions. And they say we forget quickly.» Comes the dry and snarky remark from Zeruth, leaving S'ai to scowl as he following Dtirae as soon as she makes a go for it. Oh he knows that kind of grin. It's the grin of Bad Ideas. He's a master of it. It's what got them to Here as it is. As it is, the bronzerider has no intention of leaving her out of his sight or immediate area. His hand is at his side, ready to make a go for his knife if needed as two tiny shadows in the sky flank him.

The snap of a twig catapults Vossler back into The Real World, and his body shifts into a feline crouch. His tear-ravaged features come alert, his eyes glittering with feral intensity. In one smooth motion, he leaps towards a blind corner that provides enough cover from casual observers. "W…who's there? Y'back for more, ya dog-faced sons of whers?" he calls, voice rusty with disuse. Even as he croaks out further invectives, there's the grate of wood-on-wood, and a series of clicks. Dim light blooms and disappears from his place of concealment.

Perhaps it is best that Br'enn is approaching from another area. Better to flank when they're only paying attention to the front. And the pair are most definitely heading in through the front. The snap of a twig does startle her, though, luckily, she does not curse her folly.. For not paying closer attention. But, she does not back down. As he questions who approaches, she, wisely, does not say anything. Or, perhaps it's foolishly? As she makes her way closer, and Vossler is in that corner, she's careful with her steps. Moving cautiously and searching carefully. Then? She finally speaks, "we're here on behalf of Fort. If you come out now, we can guarantee your safety."

Shardit. Who wasn't watching where they were stepping? That snap of a twig gives Br'enn a moment's pause in which he scowls, blue eyes flicking to the wall he's nearing for the best spot to move to. As he listens to the ragged-voiced man carrying on within, he opts for a spot right beside a point of entry - and quickly presses himself against the wall at the sound of rubbing wood and clicking. A weapon. Likely a crossbow, if Br'enn is any judge. He hopes he's just being paranoid. But… « Mine says to stay in cover! » Tovihasuth tells Zuvaleyuth and Zeruth urgently. « The one inside might shoot! » Br'enn shifts just enough to gain a line of sight inside, his gaze flicking quickly about to find where Dtirae and S'ai are coming in - and where their target is.

S'ai keeps close at the side of Dtirae, more than enough room for either to maneuver but clearly having taken the position of bodyguard. Heck, he might go full chivalry and jump in front of something sharp for her from the looks of it. For the normally talkative man he's remaining grimly silent, better for their target to now know how many are waiting. One, two, the firelizards take perch nearby, eyes sharp through the darkness and wings spread impatiently.

"Y'know," Vossler starts, but when it comes out in a decidedly non-menacing squeak, he can be heard clearing his throat and, subsequently, hocking and spitting out something. Yum. He begins again. "Y'know, lady-o, y'say that. They said that growin' up. Themselves were sayin' it, too, when they came here with the promises and their rott'n breath an' their sly eyes checkin' out what a man's rightfully workin' for. They were lyin', too, all the time, an' lyin' and laughin' and they butchered all I got left and set m'holding ablaze. 'Oh draaagonriders', ya gonna say, you work so much you gotta right to the last drop o' sweat on what's left of m'life, tellin' me to stay quiet and no one'll believe me as y'get yer beasts maw so close the spit covered m'shirt." Each word follows the next, faster and faster, pitch increasing to the sharp beat of stone on stone, the sparks that illuminate him in flashes from the camouflage of darkness.

Tovihasuth's warning is noted and Dtirae's steps shift to keep her behind something — something big enough to cover her and S'ai, as the bronzerider has shifted into the role of bodyguard and is aiming to keep her safe from harm. When Vossler speaks again, Dtirae remains silent. Though she is making a face at the sound of him clearing his throat out. Lovely. She will gesture to S'ai to remain still, though she isn't moving from cover, either. "Who lied to you?" She questions, sincerely. She's curious, because he's talking and not fighting them right away. "You said someone… Butchered your… Home? Your family? And no one's believed you?" She thinks that's what he's said, because he's talking faster and he's increasing his pitch. Not to mention the stone on stone sound. "Well, I'll listen. If you come out. You've been wronged. But you've also wronged. We'll do what we can, but you must also face trial for your crime." Despite her words, Zuvaleyuth conveys softly to Tovihasuth: « Prepare your rider. If he must strike, he must be prepared. We will give the signal, but we trust him to know when is best. Incapacitate him. » An arrow to the knee, if you will.

Br'enn's arrow hasn't left its rest against his bow this entire time, but the relay from Tovihasuth has him setting his weapon in earnest. He stands along the edge of the threshold just outside, peering a bit further in to land an unmoving gaze upon the babbling man. Yes, he'll do what he must. He's a good shot.

Vossler barks out a laugh, "S'if you're not knowin', when they from y'own weyr," he remarks snidely, his coarse voice rife with derision. For now, the winking lights stop along with the snapping of flint. "Prob'ly your own orders what had them here tellin' us how … tellin' us how we gotta give up more an' more to the weyr. Never askin', just tellin'. Then… then… then m'wife, dearest Riska, oh Riska… not even a Turn since.. since she…" He deteriorates into a series of hiccuping gasps, clearly hyperventilating. "Ya had'm take EVERYTHING I'd left of'er, every memory, just t'fill your coffers." Heedless of personal safety, he peers out of a blackened hole in the wall. He looks none too clean, and well underfed despite the boxiness of his form. "Tell me, ma'am, how can y'sit there an' judge ME. Ya deserve to be wiped out, ya parasites, takin' and takin' from us what have nothin' to give."

For now, orders are to stay still until Dtirae or Zuvaleyuth give the command to move again. At least for the scouts that aren't creeping their way closer as support. Should the man take off in a run? It's not likely he'll make it far. "I can assure you, sir, that the Weyr does not demand more than what a cothold can provide. Did you deal with the goldriders? Or a crowd of men? We send out weyrwomen to the Holds and cotholds." She quiets for a moment before she speaks again, softer. "I am sorry for your loss, I really am." As he peers out from the hole, the goldrider remains where she is, hidden — if only by S'ai's biding that she remain hidden. "I swear to you, the Weyr would not do this to one of their cotholds. Your story sounds familiar… Like the one of Stonehaven. Turns ago, I witnessed the aftermath of the renegades there. They… Killed everyone. Or, most of everyone. Taken what they had needed… And those responsible for it are now dead."

Thusly ordered to stillness, Br'enn keeps his place, bow lowered and drawn as he listens - to Dtirae, to any movement within, to the near-silent approach of the other scouts. Prepared to shift if the man inside so much as breathes the wrong direction.

There's a long, considering pause, and the whisper of fabric on stone as Vossler leans against what's left of a wall. "They were men," he says quietly. "Coupl'a two-three blue riders. Sometimes a brown or green, but not mucha them. Butchered m'animals, even the milchbeast, fed 'em to their dragons. Still wouldn't give 'em what little we had. Go out one day searchin' for game and saw the smoke. Don't 'member much other'n the fire was out when I came to 'cause I got wicked whonked on the back of me head." Now, Vossler is strangely clear, his voice toneless as if reading from a script. "But don' they all, ya riders I mean, don't the get their orders from you an' yours and haveta follow? Don'tcha hear all o' what they're thinkin'? They were filth, lady. Had to keep it from spreadin'. Had to… had to show ya what… what it's like to be considered lesser than an' disposable like me and mine."

Dtirae takes a step out from the wall, despite protests from S'ai. Though, he's sticking by her side once she's out from that wall. "If you saw them again, would you know?" She asks. Her brows draw into a frown, considering it all. "We… Do give them orders. But, they are… Still free to act with their own will. We don't hear their thoughts, we don't tell them what to think, or how to act, or how they respond to certain things. You are not disposable, people… Are not disposable." There's a moment of silence, her gaze searching for Br'enn before she's stepping closer. "You saw their dragons? Or… Just their knots? Did they have knots?"

Vossler pages: I haven't yet figured out who IS. So far, I've had a lot of freedom to just pull stuff out of my nose, which is cool that I'm being allowed! I just don't want to overdo it. Like I had been considering a-sploding Voss with some of his left over incendiary Stuff, but I'm not sure who had plans and what they ultimately are!

Br'enn frowns as he listens to the man, brows knitting in consternation. Riders doing such things? It doesn't add up to him, even though he knows what Dtirae says about acting on their own free will is true. Were they even from Fort, if he's certain they were riders? At the sound of a step taken, he glances within again, only to catch sight of Dtirae. His jaw clenches, and he takes a silent step of his own out in order to give himself a good shooting line, should he need it. Shadowed as he is, the man may not see him…but regardless, his presence is no well-kept secret any longer.

"Just th'one, the blue. Th'one what threatened to bite me head off," Vossler notes, one of his hands coming out of hiding to push a few lank strands of dirty hair out from in front of his eyes. "Th'rest had knots with the, y'know, the color string." Pulling his fingers away from his scalp, one digit ascribes a curlicue in the air. As he talks, he eases more and more into view, most of his face and one shoulder in the open. This stops, though, as, since he's more visible to others, so are they to HIM, and Br'enn's arrow nock is framed clearly by what was a window. Turning his head with neck-breaking speed, he eyeballs S'ai as he mimicks the motion of his peer and, all at once, brings up what looks like a long-wicked and burning candle. "Oh no y'don't. Y'not gonna take this from me, you mangy dogs. You can't HAVE it. It's all I got! You leave me and m'wife in peace! We have two little ones and I won't letcha hurt 'em! Don't worry, Riska, you an' the babes are safe. I'll not be lettin' anyone take you." With one swift motion, Vossler pivots and, with a maniacal laugh, plunges it into a nearby, open-topped barrel. "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE US! NEVER! RISKAAAAAAAA!" Almost in slow motion, the man is lit from behind, his face an unholy rictus of insane glee as, with a loud explosion, what's left of his sad cothold goes up in a huge tower of flame. There's a percussive THUD of hot air that pushes outwards from where Vossler's sad little ruins once stood, and the man and what was left of his life are vaporized almost instantly, releasing him from the torments of his shattered mind. All that's left are the faint echoes of his mad cackling.

"A blue… Just one blue. And the rest with knots, but… No dragons." Dtirae notes, loudly, so the others can hear her. But then, he's stepping more into view and the goldrider is taking a slight step back, tugging at S'ai to follow. "We're going to help you!" Dtirae insists, loudly. But, her cries are too late. Too distant. He was lost long before they found him, perhaps. There's a scream, from Dtirae. S'ai's providing cover, bringing them both to the ground and mostly away from the blast. Once they're clear, and all that remains is smoke and flame, both riders begin to rise and Dtirae's jaw is set, firmly, fists clenching tightly. There's anger, for now, but it will shift into something else later. "Inform the Weyr that we need something to put out the flames. Then we're going to search this damn ruin." And Zuvaleyuth does so, quiet and rather distant.

The second Br'enn sees that lit taper and sees the man move, he knows letting an arrow fly isn't going to do any good. He turns, managing to shield his face just in time for the explosion to hit, and the blast topples him back out his entrance. He protests the heat and the force with a roar and gets back to his feet as quickly as he's able, a stream of colorful language left in his wake as he heads around the building, calling for Dtirae and S'ai. Once he's sure they're alright, he goes about gathering together the remaining scouts in preparation for a bit of firefighting and investigating. Their suspect may be done…but they are far from it themselves.