Summer is Coming
Who Rulayn, Thys, Vossrik
What Summer is here!
When Spring-summer, Turn 2711
Where Blueberry Barrens, Fort's Forests

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Fort Weyr - Fort's Forests ~~ Blueberry Barrens
There are some places that seem to defy all conventional understanding: the blueberry barrens might be one such place. It's a vast field of blueberry bushes that pushes the forest back as far as the eye can see, broken only by the improbable existence of a hill in the middle of it all that bears a single, strange tree. The rest is a sea of lush green foliage and branches, of blue fruits and a narrow warren of paths that changes every couple of turns or so. The air is alive with the sights, sounds and smells of nature at its finest, from the bejeweled trundlebugs making their rounds and the sing-song calls of unseen avians to the sweet aroma of berries.
Mid-spring heralds the onset of harvesting season and, with it, the arrival of avians, wherries, and other wildlife. In fall, after the last of the berries has been harvested, the barrens are rife with wildfire-bright foliage, the blueberry bushes taking on a lurid red-yellow-orange coloration that lingers until the onset of winter. It is, in all, a place of restoration and renewal, where one might seek a snack and a place to relax; indeed, the gentle whispering of a creek can be heard from time to time, although finding it might be an adventure in and of itself.


There's sighs of 'thank Faranth!' amongst many in the Weyr who have never been happier than to see the wet days of spring peter out as summer begins to take a proper hold on Fort. The air is warmer as well as drier, and the greenery around it has never been brighter - which means that foraging parties are constantly going out into the wooded area beyond the Wall - Weyr - to bring back the little treats that everyone looks forward to. This particular party is headed by folks from the lower caverns who actually know what they're doing; they've given out charts to everyone detailing exactly the flora they're looking for on this already sunny morning. Thys is there, wearing shorts and a shirt and looking very casual, and she's getting stuck in alongside everyone else with mucky hands and dirty knees from picking everything from mushrooms to berries to blooms. Vossrik and Rulayn have been assigned to assist her - one of them will be holding the produce basket that the other two drop their finds into. "So. Rulayn. Vossrik. Is this what you expected candidacy to be like?"

The warmer months are always welcome at Fort and dressed in the same casual style as the Weyrwoman, Rulayn is happily getting stuck in as well. Her hands and face are already muddy, and her tied-back hair is sticking out in every direction. Compared to cleaning runners, this work was a breeze! She's not a horticulture expert though, and so for every other piece of produce Rulayn has pointed out, she's had to pause and ask if it's ready to be picked. As such, the result of her own foraging is considerably less. "I wish every day was more like this. I've been stuck inside the last few days doing chores." She's thankful not to have missed the start of the good weather.

Trudge. Pick. Stop to get his boot unstuck from a stubborn mud pile. Huff under the weight of the gargantuan basket (Smiths make excellent pack mules). "For honest?" Vossrik says, squinting against the ray of sunlight that finds its way into his eyes. "I had no expectations, not for really, ma'am, and I've spent a good portion of time carrying stuff around for whoever tells me. Uh, hey, does this look like it's gonna have those weird lil roots under it?" He pokes experimentally at a rather dire-looking three leaved plant, probably guaranteeing the itchies for the next week. Sighing, he shifts the weight of the basket in his other hand.

"The chores are so you can try different things, but if you want to come out and forage, I'm sure I can arrange that," Thys comments in response to Rulayn's wishful thinking. She's found a little patch of mushrooms and is happily slicing through the stems, dropping them into the basket that Vossrik is holding… only to find that he's touching —"Nonono! Don't touch that one!" Thys thwaps at his hand, slpping it away with her mushrooms forgotten. They fall to the forest floor, and Thys grabs hold of Vossrik's wrist, pulling it towards her so she can look at his finger. "Does it hurt? That one stings. Are you hurt?"

Rulayn shrugs in response. She'd much prefer being outside any day. Following Thys' lead, the young woman only picked out the same plants as the Weyrwoman, making note carefully of any particular method used in picking or plucking. In the middle of collecting her own mushrooms does she hear the goldrider's protest and she pauses in alarm, quickly looking back at her and Vossrik. When she realises the shout was directed at him and not her, she relaxes. ".. If he's a Smith he probably can't feel it. Thick fingers." She moves to collect the dropped mushrooms and deposits them in the basket, which she then reaches for. "Want me to hold that for you?"

And down goes the basket, snapping its wooden lid open and closed again as it hits the ground next to the Smith, who is busy yelping at the goldrider's iron grip. Something about the way Rulayn says 'thick fingers' has Vossrik wincing visibly, far more than the pricker sticking out of his finger. "I don't feel nothin' really," he shrugs, still unaware of the finger that he has extended towards Thys. "If you could make sure nothing popped out of the basket, that'd be cool, Rul, thanks. Oh don't worry, I didn't pick anything without asking. All this is just… just leaves to me, man."

"I'm a Smith and I've felt it," Thys comments, pulling Vossrik's hand up close to her brown eyes so she can peer at his finger. "You have a prickle. In your finger. Hold still." With her too-short nails she tries to pluck it out, taking a few attempts before she succeeds. "Just be careful, ok? Don't go touching things you don't know about. Both of you." After making sure Voss's finger is fine, she lets go of his hand and smoothes her hands over her shorts, then starts picking up the fallen mushrooms. "We came out here when I was a candidate," the goldrider says, dropping mushrooms into the basket and continuing on as if all that drama didn't just happen. Ahem. "Just a little further on there's a cave. Or there was, more than 10 turns back. I found a body in it."

Is it bad that Rulayn's first instinct is to preserve the basket rather than fuss over Vossrik and the thorn sticking out of his finger? Maybe. Then again, Thys has it handled. She nods with a smile to the Smith and makes her way around the pair to inspect their dropped quarry. "Looks like most of the stuff is here." She adds, helping with the collection of any of the fruit which had managed to escape the basket. "I think being kicked by a runner is pretty bad." She notes, dropping a few mushrooms and berries back into the basket and pulling the lid down. Grabbing the handle in both hands she stands back up with their heavy load, wincing at the mention of a dead body. "Really? Who was it?"

"No foolin'? That's neat! I do metal fabrication, so I got all effed up … uh, I mean messed up, I'm sorry ma'am. I got messed up burned up fingertips. Owowowoow okay I felt that," Vossrik complains as the thorn is pulled out. His uninjured hand flaps rapidly in the air next to him as if pain can grant a man dragonless flight. "Owww okay yeah dying is worse than that, though. Did anyone know the guy? That's kinda cool to find." He pauses a beat, reassessing his words. "I mean, unexpected and different."

Thys finishes picking up mushrooms, and then moves on to the next patch with the hopes the candidates will follow her. There's berries, and she picks a handful for herself first. After she's chewed one down, she cants her head at Rulayn. "Were you kicked by a runner? I imagine that would hurt - the worst I've had is getting kicked by one of my goats." To Vossrik, "I'm specialised in Jewellery. Perhaps you've seen some of my pieces for sale?" Big, blingy, jewel-heavy necklaces and so on that only really come out at gathers and other special occasions. "Actually, we never did find out who it was. But, we did find one of my necklaces that had been stolen in with him. Creepy, right?"

Rulayn takes her turn to carry the basket now, leaving Vossrik with the sweet pleasure of getting his hands dirty. She's far skinnier though and with less muscle in her arms, she's almost dragging the basket along the ground between stops. "Once. A runner caught me on the jaw." She pauses to open her mouth, pointing to one of her upper canines that had been chipped and now seemed to resemble a baby tooth instead. "My face swelled up and bruised for a while too. I couldn't talk or eat properly for a while." She adds, takes a moment to leave the basket on the ground as they stop again for berries. Letting her arms rest, Rulayn instead looks over to Vossrik, idly watching him go about his business while Thys talks. "Yeah, creepy. Glad that nothing's happened to us so far." Don't jinx it now!

Vossrik boggles intelligently at both women as he struggles to shift a hollow log and check beneath it. "One of YOURS? That's WILD! And shoo, I can't even imagine being kicked by a runner. You a Beaster, Rulayn?" His voice strains and his face reddens, his muscles cording impressively along his freckled arms as he puts his back into his chore. "Can't… shoo, what's in this, rocks?! Can't even imagine doing that for a living. Where you got your pieces on display, ma'am? I'll have to check, see if I recognize anything. T'be… URGK!" The log gets dropped unceremoniously to the side, splitting in the middle. "T'be honest, I don't much pay attention to, y'know. Girl stuff."

Thys peers at Rulayn's broken tooth, pulling a face. "That looks sharding painful, for sure… definitely worse than a caprine!" After eating a few more berries her tongue has gone purple, and there's a hint of the colour on her lips, too. "Best not say that too loud, Rulayn," Thys grins. She doesn't want to jinx the luck they've had so far! "I heard someone say they say his ghost around here one time, looking for the person who killed him." A shrug of her shoulders, then she's eating more berries. "Oh, I don't keep my jewellery on display stands," Thsy replies to Voss, shaking her head. "They're on individual stands, tucked away in my workshop. Stop by sometime, and I'll show it to you?"

"I was, until the Weyrwoman here helped me get a place in the Dragonhealer cra-.. line of work." Rulayn cuts herself off before she makes a mistake she's all too easy to manage. "Tiye is a rider who teaches me. She also Searched me." She raises her brows at Vossrik's display, but makes no offer to help. Let the big strong guy do it himself! "Ghosts aren't real." She adds, looking back to Thys and surpressing the urge to giggle at the purple lips. With her lips twisting into another shape, she hoists the basket up higher and cringes at the weight of it. "I think the basket's full though. Should we head back now?"

"Yeah. Ain't nothin' under here but some trundlebugs. Thought I saw one of them, y'know," Vossrik holds up a pinky finger and kinda wriggles it a bit, "One of those long white guys that we got a bunch of, but it disappeared into the ground so probably we shouldn't eat it? Oooh, maybe it was a ghoooost haaaand!" YOU NEVER KNOW. "Yeah, I'll stop on by, check things out. If you need me to scare up any scrap for your stuff, give me a hollar, ma'am. It's not precious but it polishes up pretty and a lot of it is just kinda hanging out."

"Ghosts can be real, just because you've not seen one doesn't mean they aren't there." Thy grins, slipping her hands into her pockets to rid them of the berry juice stains. "Look, the basket's almost full. Let's go back to camp, get something to eat, and they go ahead, shall we?"

And they all turn around to quick-march their way back to the table!


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