Another Day at the Races

Ista Hold - Gather Grounds
As if some great force had wiped clear the greenery, this huge area lies open to the sky, a sea of low grass and dirt paths surrounded on all sides by the towering trees of the Istan jungle. Tall poles have been set along the perimeter, bright orange and white ribbons strung between them, and left to flutter on the island breezes. During gather days, the far edges are often reserved for supply caravans and dragon landing fields, while the center holds a myriad vendor stalls and two paved platforms, the smaller of which is likely for harper performances, the other larger one beside it for dancing. There is even a permanent racetrack, the wood and stone construction a recent addition, while older buildings meant to house runners and sale stock provide more than ample room to stable beasts for even the largest of gathers. Several roads and trails disappear off onto the forest, the most prominent of which lead toward the hold and the orchards.

Above a particular entrance to the meadow, a banner has been hung between two massive trees, displaying the seals of hold and weyr side-by-side, a symbolic gesture to be sure, the tassels beneath it formed of braided cords in orange, white, and black.


Early afternoon on Ista Island brings with it a gentle breeze to ease the humidity of the morning, the brief cloudcover that threatened the day's brightness having dissipated until only a few tiny smudges of white dot the otherwise clear blue sky. The gather grounds of Ista Hold are already bustling as the first of the festivities get underway, though it's some time yet before the main events of the evening. Already, glows are hanging and ribbons are streaming, and visitors and residents have begun to arrive in force. Drudges bearing supplies scramble about, trying to get everything ready, and what few glimpses one might get of Lord Trolessi, might suggest he's in no less a hurry, though what the Lord of Ista Hold is doing rushing about (hold guards in tow no less) is a question unanswered, as he disappears into the stables with barely a nod for those who greet him. There are several dragons already lounging on the hold heights, just visible beyond the trees - Nziekilth and Raenth already having claimed the highest, most prominent spot as the Ista senior surveys the terrain. And maybe the runners being led in for the races much later today. But it seems Ista Hold has set aside some pens specifically for its draconic visitors, an easy flight distance from the main gather field, but well-screened from view of the humans by thick trees and underbrush. Tscyleth, the hold's watchdragon, has already snuck a snack it seems, for his jaws are flecked with red as he too, lounges on the heights beside bronze Tzimisceth. On the gather grounds, is seems Weyrleader T'eo and one of his bronzeriders are busy greeting the just-arrived Nyalle, while Cenlia seems notably absent despite the obvious presence of her dragon.

V'lad comes to a stop a respectful distance from Nyalle, offering apologetically, "I'm afraid Weyrwoman Cenlia and Lord Trolessi has been.. briefly called away, but they should return in a little while," leaving him to do what he does best, politically janitor things until - thankfully, he spots T'eo not too far away. Just about the same time the other man spots them. He tenses ever so briefly as T'eo's eyes settle upon him, although slender shoulders relax slightly as the weyrleader approaches, the younger bronzerider tilting his head in momentary greeting to the older man, and offering a polite, if not entirely formal, "Afternoon, boss." He might smile just a little, there, although his eyes are taking in T'eo's harried look and the edge in his voice, offering smoothly as if almost in excuse, "Cenlia was ..detained in coversation with the Lady Holder. I believe it was a matter of a gather gown," pausing just there to very softly clear his throat, "I thought it best I remain here while they complete their preparations."

Nyalle turns at the approach of another, lifting her skirt in another curtsey to the Weyrleader. "And Fort's to Ista's, sir," she answers, her smile small but still present. Proper, if a bit fixed. The young Senior's gaze darts around again, a bit nervously, before she settles once more. "That's quite alright, I understand," she says to V'lad, though curiosity rises in her dark eyes. Hesitating briefly, she asks further, "I hope nothing is amiss?" A bit too curious to be polite perhaps, but she asks anyway.

T'eo's shoulders lower slightly as he seems to exhale a held breath. He glances at the jacket and back to the two before him again. "Ah… I see." Is the response given to V'lad, but there's a line on his forehead that grows a bit fainter as his worry abates. At Nyalle's inquiry he clears his throat a moment before responding. "No no… Things are just fine. Just keeping track of everything. I trust you have had no issues in travel? How is the weather up north?" Or how is weather in general? Ista certainly never seems to have it… save for storms on occasion. More and more people seem to be arriving, causing him to glance at V'lad once more. Raenth meanwhile has woken up proper, surveying the scene about him.

Cue Inri — in a long Gather gown of emerald green, slightly low-cut to show off not her chest but a small-but-fine necklace — stepping up cautiously, skirt in hand, to fall behind her Senior. She has detached from Jajen, who is off who-knows-where, and from her younger brother, who is flirting with a young Istan girl of similar age. It's T'eo's comment about the weather that she first hears, and after a soft, "Ma'am" for Nyalle, she replies, "Oh, it's been grey. But warm, for Fort. Not bad."

V'lad adjusts the jacket - likely Cenlia's - which is still folded over one arm, the poor man probably having had to carry it around the last gather too. Sideglancing briefly toward the hold heights where Nziekilth is lounging with the other dragons, he presses his lips together a moment. His own lifemate is perhaps taking a page from Raenth's book, as Tzimisceth seems to be relaxing, if marginally, curled in an out-of-the-way spot where he can easily watch both the gather grounds and the arrivals. With a slight shake of his head, V'lad assures Nyalle, echoing T'eo softly, "Mm, no, nothing amiss." Though he will elaborate, tone just faintly wry, "I believe the Lady Holder wished to ensure our weyrwoman's attire was.. appropriately fitted. It is my understanding that she gifted her a rather lovely gown." His expression might remain carefully neutral as he says this, but there is the barest tug of amusement to his features. Cenlia in a dress - and this time he didn't even have to get her to lose a bet! As for Lord Trolessi, either V'lad doesn't know, or is simply refraining from speaking for the man. Inri's appearance is met with his usual politeness, the bronzerider inclining his head in greeting, though he's shifted back slighty, almost instinctive in the way he positions himself at a guard's respectful distance from the ranking riders. Night-black eyes are, as always, watchful of the crowd.

Nyalle turns with a smile when her Junior approaches, warm as she steps to the side and gestures for Inri to come stand beside her. "Inri would know Fort's weather patterns better than I would," she says softly to T'eo. Looking to V'lad, the young goldrider grins widely, a touch of childish joy brightening her eyes. "A gather gown from the Lady of Ista? I'm certain Cenlia will wear it well! I am eager to see what the Lady has decided to gift her." Self-consciously, her hand brushes along her plain but well tailored gown. No flash or glam here, except for the simple silver chain around her neck.

People? Here? Crowds and the ebb and flow thereof? Why… so there are! Mostly with the flowing toward the gather grounds, on account of that's where the party is. Among those crowds, there's Takapola, strolling along with his thumbs tucked in his belt and a grin as he looks over all these many crowds. So crowded! And hey, there's someone he knows, so he waves before the crowds carry him on past to who-knows-where.

Crowds indeed. And amongst the crowds are people preparing runners for the races to begin; amongst those people are a family of Fort Sea's residents and their attractive mare. She placed in the last races, and seems to be enthusiastic enough about placing again — there's some head-tossing and irritable snorting in response to one of the women, a tall brunette with a Healer's knot, trying to put ribbons in her hair. "Mirinda, she doesn't need to look pretty," the man who looks like he's going to be riding complains, but an older man (the pair's father) is just nodding his head proudly. Apparently she does need to look pretty.

T'eo looks about at Inri's arrival and nods his greeting. "Well warm is better than fridgid, certainly." The mention od gather gowns on Cenlia has an equally curious twitch to the Weyrleader's lips as it does V'lad, remembering the time he picked one out for her… when she was very drunk. "I'm sure she will." T'eo agrees with Nyalle, though there's a glint in his amber eyes that shows a chuckle not quite had. "But how lovely you both look as well. Have you had a chance to get any refreshment?" There is a wave of his hands towards those available. "Perhaps I can get you both something?"

"Oh," Inri smiles shyly; unlike her, maybe, but this is a lot of people all at once, or perhaps it's just the offer. "If you'd like? Some white wine, and — I have no idea what there is to eat. I'd be willing to try just about anything, though. And I can't take credit for how I look, I yield that all to my sister. Who is — somewhere. Doing something. Around here." Very specific, indeed; the statement is accompanied by a laugh.

Someday, Cen is going to have to admit that maybe she secretly doesn't mind walking around in a well-fitted gather dress, especially one as nice as this one. But that doesn't keep her from pinning V'lad with a scowl the second she spots him across the way. In sharp contrast to the (at least summer-worthy) formal leathers she'd arrived in, her current garments are entirely suitable for both the weather and the dancing. A deep red, the color of good Benden wine, the flowing skirt and fitted midsection of the dress are elegantly tailored, with fabric gathering to drape just off tanned shoulders, leaving them bare, the sleeves slitted along the sides and falling straight until the elbows. There is subtle embroidery in a richer crimson along the hems of the garment, and somehow the weyrwoman has even been convinced to trade her customary sturdy boots for a pair open-toed shoes more suited to the dance floor, with dark red cording braided up along the ankles. The otherwise stylish effect is ruined slightly by the nasy scarring along one leg, but that doesn't stop a few stares. Though admittedly, much of that might be from Istans who are wondering what kind of bet their senior has lost /this/ time.

"As am I," V'lad seems to agree with Nyalle, on wanting to see the dress Cenlia is likely to be in, although like T'eo, he might just have a hint of a chuckle in his voice yoo. These bronzeriders have had to deal with the weyrwoman for turns, the poor men. There is a wordless browlift for Inri's less than specific mention of her sister's whereabouts, though the man is then glancing up, perhaps some silent warning from his dragon there. For V'lad might have been about to offer to fetch refreshments as well, but T'eo beats him to it, so the bronzerider is left to look a little awkward once he realizes the look an approaching Cenlia is giving him. He might softly clear his throat and murmur something about stowing the jacket as he all but backpedals into the crowd, inclining his head to the goldriders with a very polite, "If you'll excuse me a moment.."

Nyalle turns to watch others come and go, offering smiles as she catches peoples' gazes. "Some wine would be lovely, thank you sir," she says with a dip of her head. "And whatever is fresh to eat?" Then her attention is taken by Cenlia, the young Fortian Senior plucking at her plain dress as she gasps softly. "Oh, Cenlia, that gown is /stunning/! Lady Ista really has wonderful taste, you look absolutely amazing. Who made it?" she practically simpers, peering at the dress and just barely resisting the urge to pluck at it.

Takapola pauses to lean against a rail and watch that mare being decked out to a suitable degree of adornment. Even if there seems to be some disagreement about just what looks suitable. "Lovely lady, that!" he calls out with a grin. He means the mare. "Good fashion sense, too!" He… still means the mare, right?

The mare's keepers are, for the most part, grinning — the older gentleman and the Healer both shoot Takapola wide grins. The jockey? Grunts. "She doesn't need to look pretty," he mutters, again. "I think it'll help inspire her to run faster," the older man argues, and as for the Healer — she's laughing. "Thank you," she calls over to their audience member, "I think she likes you too. Complimenting her bows and all." The runner is at least beginning to calm down; but when will it be her turn?

T'eo smiles to Inri as she becomes suddenly shy. "Well my compliments to you both for the outcome either way." He nods at the orders of wine from the two ladies, but as he turns to go he catches the look on V'lad's face. That can only mean… "Cenlia!" He turns about, but that's about all he gets out before he is forced to pause, looking her over. "You look…" He doesn't seem to have words. Standing there looking a bit of an idiot, he manages to shake himself and get back a bit more of a professional demeanor." Well you'd look a lot better if you'd stop scowling." Smirk. "Still that gown suits you well. Would you like something to drink? I was about to get these ladies some wine."

Forget Inri's dress, or the good job Aifric did on her hair; she's busy being distracted by Cenlia. "Isn't that beautiful," she says softly, giving Ista's Weyrwoman a smile that is as diplomatic and friendly as Cenlia's expression isn't. "I absolutely approve, not that my approval means much, but it's absolutely gorgeous." Nyalle is left to be the one to gush, and Inri simply watches, intrigued — she is going to want the answers to those questions too, no doubt, the fashion plate that she is or tries to be.

Better late than never is the saying, isn't it? With the Gather underway, a few more visitors arrive as another bronze and blue appear from Between and there is no mistaking the pale hides of both dragons. Velokraeth's… unique physical traits are also hard to miss, but he isn't shy either by announcing himself with a trumpeting bugle as he glides down to land where he can deposit his rider before joining the others upon the heights and rumbling with warm greetings to all and sweeter, honeyed greetings to all the pretty ladies. Th'ero will be quick to dismount, storing away his extra flight gear in his straps and leaving him in his lighter Gather finery. He wears a deep burgundy tunic of light woven fabric with a black vest with copper and silver trim over top and a pair of black pants tucked into knee high boots. As he strides over to where Varmiroth lands to meet with Kimmila, he'll check the two daggers at his side: one decorative, one… not so much. The Fortian Weyrleader will help her with their son too, watching carefully as Kyzen dismounts and helping the child out of the heavier flight jacket. "Where to start?" Th'ero can be heard speaking to Kimmila, grinning crookedly as he casts a quick look over the Gather grounds and keeping a firm grip on Kyzen's shoulder and offering his weyrmate the other. "Don't think we've missed any of the races. Should we go see where everyone has gone to?" Lead on!

Kimmila dismounts once Kyzen is down safely, sending Varmiroth off to join Velokraeth on the heights. The bluerider is dressed in a deep navy blue gown which compliments Th'ero's burgundy tunic, her copper and silver detailing making both outfits part of a set. Kyzen, however, is not matching his family. No, the toddler is still too tough on clothes to make any special effort to dress him beyond 'fairly nice things he hasn't thrown up on yet'. Slipping her arm through Th'ero's, she glances down at their son and then around. "Food and drink." A good place to start, right?

Ista is known for its tropical beaches… its shops… its chickens too! But what could have brought Xanadu's indolent headwoman to the sunny shores today? It might be the gather. It might be the races. It's definitely a nice place to spend her restday with Xanadu's steward and it's evident that from the sunkissed look to her cheeks that she's spent some time on those golden beaches already today. There's a necklace of tiny, delicate shells, pastel pink in color about her neck, so she's also likely been in a few of those shops. She is not dressed to the nines as she might ordinarily be, but in a wide-brimmed white straw sunhat topping her blonde head and a strapless sundress of aqua blue that hugs her bodice, falls to cling softly about waist and hips then whispers about her thighs, showing plenty of leg above her sandaled feet. She's drifting indolently towards where the races will be held, but if she's excited about them, she's hiding it well. And she might well be!

Xanadu's steward has accompanied Darsce amidst both beaches and shops. He continues this trend now as they come to the gather and in the general direction of the racetrack. Jethaniel is dressed fairly simply, in a short-sleeved light blue shirt with crosshatching in white and a pair of tan trousers. He glances about their surroundings, and turns his head to Darsce to note, "That smith appears to have a stall here as well. The selection may differ." There's a slight tilt of his head to indicate the stall he describes, but he does not appear overly excited at the moment, though he does have a generally positive demeanor as he accompanies Darsce.

Zhirayr isn't accompanying anyone, at least not at the moment. Instead, he is — as always — dressed head-to-toe in his trademark black, blandly ignoring the fact that this is Ista, not Fort, and that he's outside, in the sun. Sunhats are for those who aren't Zhirayr, apparently; his black hair is just as well-baked as his black shirt. He must be a master cards-player, or mistaken for one often enough, because whatever his opinion is of the gather around him, whatever his level of enjoyment, whatever he's been doing — there's no sign of it on his face. He drifts over to watch the poor runner get bedecked, offering a brief-but-friendly-ish smile to those doing the decorating. (This, of course, after a brief salute to his boss.)

As she makes her way across the gather grounds, Cenlia fixes V'lad with a look that could curdle /beer/, but luckily for said bronzerider, she's distracted briefly by the arrival of the Fortian weyrleader and Kimmila, glancing skyward as the new arrivals are greeted in kind by Nziekilth. The gold's own answering bugle as much recognition as it is welcoming. There's some amusement for the honeyed tones, Zeek stretching lazily in the Istan sun and possibly considering joining Raenth in the snoozing for awhile. Cen, meanwhile, is heading for T'eo and the Fortian goldriders, the brief distraction having allowed V'lad to make his escape. Though more than likely, he will return at some point - he /is/ supposed to be shadowing her, after all. Passing the Xanaduans and Zhirayr on the way, she herself has to comment, "Shells, man, how aren't ya melted in that getup?" Nevermind the look T'eo is giving /her/. Continuing on (she's going to assume Takapola's words are totally for that runner), she does quirk a brow somewhat at her Weyrleader's ..momentary lack of words there, returning his gaze with a certain look of her own. And maybe her cheeks do color very slightly - but there's a slightly huffed, "And I'd look even better naked onna beach in nothing but a pair of sandals too, so stuff it," not embarrassed in the least, noo. She does relent, however, tacking on with a released breath, "Could use somethin' chilled, though. Anything, so long as it's cold." She does, however, look somewhat more embarrassed by Nyalle's gushing, eyebrows sneaking up to her hairline as she goes on. Possibly, Cen had expected the other senior to flee on sight, though sadly for Inri and Nyalle both, Cen's reply to them is singulerly unhelpful on the topic of fashion, "Er. Thanks. Er.. am sure Jezzie mentioned who made it, but I weren't really paying attention." She'll pluck at her attire in a vaguely awkward manner, before waving a hand toward the racetrack, "Cen introduce you to her later - we've got some seats reserved if ya wanna start heading that way."

Nyalle coughs lightly, her cheeks coloring at Cenlia's talk of being nude on a beach. Well. That's… Cenlia was surprised Nyalle didn't flee on sight? Seems that surprise was a bit premature as Nyalle coughs lightly and turns. "I'll see you there, I need to look for something first." /Then/ she is walking away from the group, strides swift before she's vanished into the crowd.

"Prettier she looks, more people will be cheering for her," offers Takapola. Because unsolicited advice is the best advice! "And I hear cheers translate three to one into paces round the track." He grins widely, though it's probably at least accurate that the more that mare draws the eye, the more people will bet on her… whatever that ends up meaning. Takapola himself seems inclined to linger and watch rather than putting down his marks, at least at the moment. He grins to the healer and decorator of runners. "You're welcome!" he calls back. "But it's only truth." His grin continues unabated as Zhirayr emerges from the crowd to join them, and Takapola looks over the dark-clad man, then asks, "Here to race and show your pace?"

Annnnd as per usual, a response like that will shut T'eo right up. His smirk fades and he all but rolls his eyes. It doesn't stay long though. "Cold. Yes, got it." But at Nyalle's reaction he pauses, frowning. He stares after her a long moment before shooting Cen a -look-. With Inri present he doesn't say anything. "I'll meet you both other there." He says with a sigh. As he passes Cenlia to go get the drinks he hisses to her. "/Behave/." And he's off. On the way he passes Zhirayr in all black too. A brow raises but he just shakes his head and keeps going. Here and there he nods and smiles to people he passes. As a Weyrleader one can't help but be stopped and talked to by so many, yet somehow T'eo has learned a very polite and effective way of greeting and still going on with his business. Maybe it's the stern looking face people are afraid to make anything but smiley? Who knows.

"He always looks like that," Inri tells Cenila, and she's laughing, still. "Our assistant to the Headwoman. I think he doesn't own anything that isn't black, and may have forgotten what the sun is." She is enjoying that selfsame thing baking on her arms. It's a nice change, and she'll freckle. As for being naked on beaches, she probably in the end approves of this plan, but isn't going to voice it. Not in public as a dignitary, anyway (though she probably wishes she had Cenlia's gumption).

Zhirayr doesn't seem to be remotely surprised that his mode of dress is gaining comment, of course; he just smiles at the Weyrwoman as she passes, and then at the Weyrleader as he makes a face, and then as Inri keeps talking about him (and the runner doesn't bolt, or throw his finery in the mud, or anything else that interesting), Zhirayr decides he'll amble over — and is promptly asked a question. Huh. to Takapola, therefore: "Me? No. I'm not the owner, or a jockey, either one." In this getup? Surely nobody's mistaking him for a jockey! (But it's more likely in his mind than that someone would mistake him for an owner of racers.)

"Food and drink it is then," Th'ero muses and he slips his arm through Kimmila's in turn, keeping Kyzen close at his other side. No harness for the kid today! Which may bode ill if he scampers off somewhere or it'll be just fine and likely be fine, as there's plenty to keep him entertained and maybe he's a touch shy and uneasy around such large crowds and will stick to his parents like glue. As they walk forwards, the Fortian Weyrleader will do his share of polite and respectful greetings, even remembering to smile now and again (even if reserved) and while most are unfamiliar or vaguely so to him, there are some familiar faces among the crowds. Namely Zhirayr, who receives a polite nod, followed by a lingering look. When did he get here? "Do you mind if I take Kyzen ahead, Wingmate?" he murmurs to Kimmila, glancing sidelong to her with a fond smile. "I'd like to find where Nyalle and Inri are and see where we're to sit or if we're to just grab the nearest and best there is for viewing."

"Maybe he was wondering if perhaps you were dressed as a runner, and planned to compete yourself," Mirinda, the runner-ribboning Healer supposes in Zhirayr's general direction. "After all, you make a nice shade of black." She's turning the runner over entirely to her brother the jockey, after giving the mare a kiss on the nose. "You look fantastic, you run well. Everyone will be cheering for you, he's right — I'm Mirinda, by the way," she tells Takapola with another smile. Zhirayr can have one too, but it's smaller; he didn't compliment the family mare.

Kimmila shakes her head at Th'ero's question, standing to kiss his cheek swiftly. "That's fine, wingmate," she answers. "I'll go get us all some food and meet you wherever we're supposed to sit. Oh! Inri!" she hollers, waving at the goldrider and pointing to Th'ero in a 'look, we found you!' point before she's vanishing into the crowd on her errand.

"Do they?" There's a perk of interest in Darsce's tone as she gives the smith's tent a look to mark its location. She needs more jewelry, right? What woman doesn't? Or there may be some mechanical gizmo in there to catch Jethaniel's eye - not that he couldn't create something more complex, but when has he the time? SOMEone keeps giving the steward new Weyr projects to oversee and SHE keeps distracting him when he comes home in the evenings. "We'll stop back by on the way out," she murmurs with a smile, fingers tease-tickling his forearm where her hand rests before she turns her attention to what's up ahead - only to spot the bedecked runner and blinkblink in a touch of confusion. She asides to Jethaniel, "Ista has some very interesting customs, don't they?" Their steps have brought them within sight of some of Pern's shiny knots. Hers errr, is fluttering between her breasts becaaauuse there's material there and not on her shoulder , but she will greet them Darsce-style with a perkily-drawled, "Xanadu sends its best to you." Maybe meaning her? Cough. And no salute, just a fluttery wink and a cheeky smile before she falls silent long enough to hear the Istan Weyrwoman's naked comment. "You'd fry," she retorts to Cenlia and then grins rakishly as a thumb is jerked at Zhirayr, "He's baking, so maybe it's apropos?" Hello, a diplomat Darsce is not!

Inri is indeed right here! Th'ero and Kimm get a beckoning wave, and hopefully she's not screaming in anyone's ear when she yells over, "We've got good seats, come on!" They're being led to them, anyway, and she is never, ever going to argue a front row view of watching people ride runners in circles. There's something oddly entertaining about it. "I see Kyzen's been considered well-behaved." Because he's not leashed, which of course delights Inri every time she sees it. Child on a leash!

There are assuredly a variety of things which might interest either of them at a smith's booth, and Jethaniel nods his agreement to Darsce. Perhaps he'll obtain some components for personal projects he intends to undertake… if he ever has the time. There are, however, a wide variety of distractions in life. The same is true here at this Gather. They may yet become too distracted to visit that stall, but Jethaniel is unconcerned by that. He looks to the runner Darsce indicates, and smiles - or perhaps that's for the touch of her fingers against his arm. "I expect we have not yet seen the full breadth thereof," is his statement concerning Istan customs, and then they proceed on and encounter knots which are a more usual part of the attire, accompanied by formal outfits which may not be. He inclines his head to accompany the greeting given by Darsce, and his smile now is a polite one. "It is our hope the day is already a good one for you." Which seems plausible, given the Gather and the high spirits which seem associated therewith. He does not comment concerning beach attire; he does glance to Darsce for her addition, with a twitch of both an eyebrow and the corner of his mouth. "…I do not believe that is the derivation of the aromas of cuisine here present."

This is totally going to be a thing, isn't it? A new Fort-Ista tradition: it isn't a /proper/ gather until Cenlia has spooked poor Nyalle! Clearly, the Istan Weyrwoman is a little sheepish, as soon as she realizes that she's done it again. Oops? A brow is raised for the other senior's hasty departure, but at least Cen can breathe a little easier now that her fancy dress isn't being gushed over. She does catch T'eo's look, however, and maybe her expression gets more sheepish in return, but the hissed reprimend earns an eyeroll in kind. At least he hasn't yet taken to elbowing her like V'lad? But Inri's comment on the black-clad fellow distracts her from making her own reply to her Weyrleader. Instead, she cants her head, glancing back with a half-joking, "Shells, what is it with Fortian men? I swear, when B'ky transferred over, he was the same. Only he had a couple more colors in his closet." As for gumption, Cen unfortunately has that in spades, calling back to to Darsce with a laughed, "Hah! Like a tuber straw," and offering a lopsided grin. She might have said more, but alas scandalizing will have to wait, because the call for the races to begin has just been sounded. "C'mon, we better hurry before somebody swipes our seats," waving for Th'ero to follow too as she starts moving.

If someone swipes the Weyrleader seats, will they survive the night?

Probably not, but then again, Cen didn;t bring along her shovel!

But this is a Gather. Surely someone's selling some!

"Oh, well-" Takapola begins with an airy wave of one hand to Zhirayr, then pauses as Mirinda supposes her supposings. His grin widens, and he nods. "Can't go discounting these modern innovations in runners, you know. They're doing amazing things these days." The grin remains in place, and he nods to Mirinda. "Me, I'm Takapola," he says. Just in case she was curious!

"And I'm Zhirayr," offers the black-encased well-baked man of the same name. Really belatedly, apparently, he adds: "Your runner is beautiful, and I suppose I might be sorry she's not mine — especially if she's about to win. Do you think so?"

T'eo is on his way back, drinks in hand, as he hears the call to post. His head shoots up, looking over the crowd somewhat ineffectively. After all, he's not the tallest present and thats a lot of people. He nearly spills Cenlia's drink on someone as he distractedly weaves his way past. He never was terribly graceful and she'd sort of deserve it for poor Nyalle, but somehow he manages to make it to the seating in one piece. Or, well, three pieces. Two glasses and a harassed looking bronzer. Where were they again? Ah, there. Cenlia is not very hard to spot after all in all that red… and Inri in green! And what is that on a string with the Fort 'leader? A canine? Nope. A child. His brows shoot towards his hairline but he makes his way over all the same.

Th'ero will try to sneak in a swift and parting kiss in return to Kimmila's cheek, a rare display of affection between the pair and on non-Fortian soil no less! It only took how many Turns for the Fortian Weyrleader to thaw out? He smiles too! Actually smiles, when Inri's attention is caught and with his hand free he half-waves, half-salutes to the goldrider while gathering Kyzen up to carry the boy when the child begins to lag and balk with the rush of the crowds as the call for the races to begin sounds off. "He's beginning to understand the concept of 'consequences'," Th'ero drawls to Inri with a lopsided smirk, while Kyzen just beams at her and then points towards the tracks. "We gonna go see the pretty runners again?" Which is cue for Th'ero to move along, joining Inri and murmuring, "Where's Nyalle?" to her before Cenlia is catching his attention with that wave. He'll dip his head to the Istan Weyrwoman and then call over the din of other conversations. "Lose another bet?" he muses, another nod sent to T'eo as they approach. That was why she was in a dress to start at Fort, right?

Out of the stables come yells and shouts. "LOOSE RUNNER!" Can finally be descerned, but not before a short dark bay skinny thing comes bursting out of the stables, fully tacked and dragging a chainshank as he goes. Head tossing and a buck thrown out to the side, he gallops around the edge of the crowd gleefully.

"She's not technically mine," Mirinda confesses, nodding her head toward the older man who has now gotten distracted talking to someone about something. "She's his. But we're helping out, I suppose." She's speaking calmly and rubbing the mare's neck one last time, as woman and mare both bow their heads in appreciation of the compliments (one may have been pulled down, however). The commotion from the stables interrupts her, and her brother is off like a shot trying to be one of the ones to catch the escaping stallion.

Inri can't help but swallow a bit of laughter as Th'ero inquires about Cenlia and bets. Maybe that's the answer! She missed the last Gather due to being stuck working elsewhere, so of course she wouldn't have known. As to Th'ero's question, she replies, "She went to look for something, she said," and more softly, just to her Weyrleader, "Because Ista's Weyrwoman mentioned public nudity and I think that was enough for her in the moment." Kyzen is at least getting Inri's usual smiles, but then she, too, is distracted — "That is not an auspicious beginning, is it."

There's a smirk tossed Cenlia-ward from Darsce. "Crispy and delicious!" she calls back over the heads of milling people. Thankfully she has the arm of Jethaniel and will not be trampled or swept away to be lost, though calls of loose runner has her gleeping and eyeing the direction from whence it came. Stallion?! Allow them an inch outside of the breeding barn and they'll take a mile of mayhem! Now might actually be an excellent time to inspect that smith's tent and so she makes a U-turn and heads that way, instead of following the crowd track-wards. She'll surely size up the runnerflesh later. Or… well… some kind of flesh. In private. Restdays. Gotta love 'em!

This. THIS is why Cenlia had to be practically dragged to the races earlier. V'lad may have threatened her shovel collection. She's just making her way through the crowd when the commotion erupts, and at first, the goldrider doesn't appear to realize what's happened, as she wrinkles her nose and mutters to Inri, "Bet ya ten marks some drunk idjit's gone streaking in front of all the ladies," replying more loudly to Th'ero, "Worse. Got accosted by a Lady Holder." She sounds so dismayed about that, too. Unfortunately, she spots the /real/ cause of the upset riight about the same time she spots T'eo. And for a woman who once stared down the maw of a growling canine, she lets out an impressively high-pitched /squawk/ as she makes a dive for her weyrleader. T'eo is probably lucky (or unlucky?) he's holding those drinks, because as that runner speeds by, the goldrider is totally going to cling to him like a panicked crawler. She is never going to live this one down.

Takapola shrugs to Mirinda's clarification, an easy sort of motion to go with his grin. Ownership, it seems to say, can be such a fluid concept. And then there's the breakaway runner, and Takapola springs into motion to… hop onto the first rung of the fence and keep himself out of the way. Catching runners? That's a job for people what know what they're doing! Which isn't him. "And the first to run is…" he waves an arm at the escapee. "That fellow. Whoever he is." But hey, at least Takapola has a good view!

Zhirayr has, somehow, ended up on top of the fence he'd been leaning on a moment ago — how, exactly, did that happen? The world may never know — and does his best to look like he intended to come up here all along. "I don't think that's quite how the race is supposed to go," he says mildly. (But, to be entirely honest, he isn't sure.)

T'eo opens his mouth to comment on the child on a leash but before he can there's shouting. His head snaps about to note from where it's coming. Is that? Yes… Yes it is. "Chubbs?" As the runner goes galloping by he lets out a sigh, about to turn to hand the drinks to the nearest person… but suddenly, with a loud squwak he's covered in them! Them and a Weyrwoman. "Augh! Cen!" He yelps, though not nearly so high pitched. "He's not… going to… trample you!" He manages, dropping the glasses, whose contents are already all over him. His white dress shirt is pale yellow and rosy red.

Well. A drink got spilled after all. But T'eo's shirt is all sorts of different shades of fashionable at this point! "Looking good," Inri teases Ista's Weyrleader as he becomes a Weyrwoman perch and a piece of wine art at the same time. "Is he yours? You might want to go — catch him." If the jockey from Fort Sea doesn't manage, what with his sister holding his mare for him and all.

His sister is busy agreeing with her conversation partners. "No," Mirinda tells Zhirayr, "I suspect not, but — perhaps he'll win." Clearly she likes Takapola's sense of humor.

As the movement of the crowd changes, Jethaniel draws Darsce closer against him. The quasirandom motions of the crowd approximate those of an ideal gas, and the stallion's kinetic energy is being transferred (fortunately, indirectly) to it. It is not strictly Brownian, but the decisions made can approximate such, as they are all made with incomplete information and based on primarily local conditions. Under these circumstances, Jethaniel and Darsce, connected by her arm on his, may be considered to exist as a larger molecule, and as such, their course is more stable as they move against the crowd (flowing, reasonably enough, from the densely packed gather grounds to the less-fill stands) and to that tent. He and Darsce will consider the merchandise, and conduct whatever other activities seem suitable for their restday, with far less destructive potential than that stallion's actions, though kinetic energy may also be involved.. as well as the stored mechanical energy of gears and springs.

"THAT STICK PIN LOUT OF A BEAST!" A tall brownrider, incidentally the Weyrlingmaster of Ista, stalks out of the stables looking livid, her dark hair frizzled about her face despite its braid. "I'll make him dragon food! How in Faranth's name…" But she doesn't immediately start after the beast, letting the stablehands have a go first. Maybe she knows better? Luckily there are enough people about that the bay doesn't play "catch me if you can" for too terribly long. "Bring him in! Lets see how much damage he's done to himself."

"Again?" Th'ero's brows lift up to Inri's explanation to Nyalle's disappearing act and then he frowns heavily, reverting back to the closed off expression so many Fortians are familiar with. He snorts, "Shells, I'm going to have to have a few words with her…" Because THAT always goes over well! "…someone's got to. Needs a tougher skin—" Says the man who used to bristle or get flustered just as bad as the Weyrwoman once! Th'ero's rambling is cut short however as a stallion runner makes a break for freedom and Kyzen squeals with delighted laughter, causing the Fortian Weyrleader to wince slightly since the boy's head is right by his ear. Ow? "Accosted? You've just no luck of late!" he fires back to Cenlia, only to stare when the Istan Weyrwoman lets out that high-pitched squawk and dive for T'eo. No, she won't ever live that one down, will she? Gesturing for Inri to take a seat first, Th'ero will still be eyeing the Istan Weyrleaders, only to have to focus on seeing Kyzen settled as well. "Bound to happen, I suppose? With so many runners about… Who's was it?" Please don't be Fortian! That much is implied in his tone.

"Depends what rules they're racing under," Takapola says consideringly. "Emerald East Escapee, that's how it works." He pauses, taps his fingers against his chin. "Course, those races, the winner gets eaten by a dragon." He shakes his head. "It's not a very popular form. Very few repeat champions. Nobody's quite sure why."

Zhirayr frowns, looking between Mirinda and Takapola. He's beginning to suspect he might be getting teased. He glances off in the wake of the runaway runner (runneraway?), and murmurs rather dryly: "I can't imagine why that would be, no. It rather looks as if they're considering those rules, though — isn't that the Weyrlingmaster, shouting?"

Cen-barnacle go! She has the powers of cling! If those drinks are all over T'eo, then they're definitely all over Cen, because the goldrider is probably more wide-eyed than the poor runner. She does stop her flailing long enough to notice the guy on the fence, in a kind of terrified fascination, but the only reply T'eo gets to his assurance is a vaguely strangled noise in the back of her throat. At least.. the weyrwoman isn't actually gibbering? She may have forgotten that Th'ero and Inri are pretty much right there. Cough.

"Um — hers, perhaps," Inri guesses, gesturing at the Weyrlingmaster with a toss of the hand, "though I couldn't be sure. Not one of ours as far as I can tell. Definitely not Breakwater's." If Breakwater is even here, though the presence of Inri's siblings might indicate that they are. She is polite enough to not actually mention poor Cenliacle, who is of course welcome to react to being startled in whichever way she desires.

Mirinda's brother appears to have managed to catch the runner, along with a group of stablehands; group-wrangling was in fact the key to catching the escapee. The Healer herself? Simply awarding the men she's with with a relatively wry smile. "I think I did hear something about dragon food, yes." Not that she knows who any of the Weyr people are.

"Ours." T'eo manages to Th'ero. "My sister's actually." He eyes Cenlia. "He won't run at people. He'll just dance around like a lunatic till he's bored and…" And as he's lead past them. "…caught." He tries to peel her off but after a moment just gives up and lets her hang there. "If I had something to say about it he would be dragon food." He mutters. "He runs well, but he's the biggest trouble maker of the lot. Well, I suppose I don't need to explain that one any really. I'm so glad I got out of runners." He would pat Cenlia's back or head or something but she's got his arms pinned ineffectively to his side… and he suspects tickling would do more harm than good.

Th'ero's head turns as the Istan Weyrlingmaster storms out, his lips curving into a vaguely amused smile. He's about to ply a few more questions but has T'eo filling in those blanks nicely. "At least it makes for an interesting start to the races?" he drawls to the other Weyrleader with a slight smirk. Now that the runner has been caught, all is well, right? "Breakwater has a few entrants, surely?" Th'ero goes on to add to Inri as he takes his seat, mindful to keep an eye on Kyzen and not be too distracted. Right now the child is sitting on the edge of his seat, legs swinging and his eyes roaming over the crowds and the race track below in anticipation. "What's gonna be dragon food?" he asks in that child-like sing-song way.

It may be a testament to V'lad's powers of self-control that he doesn't crack up the moment he spots his weyrleader being barnacled by Cenlia. Having stowed the jacket somewhere, he'd managed to miss most of the escaping runner commotion, but surely he can guess what's happened. And if he values his life, he'll probably never speak a word of this to Cen, ever. With a totally straight face, he offers, "I'll.. find some napkins," and makes a second quiet escape the way he'd arrived.

Once the runner has been captured and is a good distance away, Cenlia finally comes to her senses and abruptly detatches from T'eo. She'll just make like a redfruit and color somewhat spectacularly, though not quite matching her dress which, sadly, has managed to get stained not more than a few minutes after having been acquired. She'll just clear her throat and speedidly take her seat, muttering a grumbled, "Sharding /runners/," and not looking at anyone. At all. But something Inri says has Cenlia blinking, a vaguely distracted, "Breakwater? I'srie's hold?" confusion brief as her eyes are watching that runner suspiciously, "Thought all they bred was boats." That makes no sense. But any topic is better than sitting there awkwardly, right?

"I wouldn't know," Takapola says to Zhirayr with a shrug. He ain't from 'round here, y'see. Weyrlingmaster might as well be chief cook or toilet-scrubbing drudge, for all he knows, but… "They might yet. They've certainly got the equipment for it." He indicates the dragons on the heights. Hopefully there won't be any passing riders to take offense at that!

"Well, if so, I certainly hope such rules don't run the risk of making all the other dragons jealous," Zhirayr poses uncomfortably. "How are you supposed to decide which dragon gets to eat the victor, after all? — Don't tell me, on second thought. I'm not sure I want to know." Abruptly, he does a backwards somersault off the railing, landing neatly on his feet. "I'm not entirely sure I want to watch the race at this point, for that matter. It seems as if it'd be somewhat anticlimactic."

Laughing softly, Inri manages to reassure Kyzen, "Nothing, now. That runner was getting threatened for running off like that — running off's never a good idea, you never know what bad thing might end up happening," look, it's a teaching moment, delivered so nonchalantly! "I believe there's two. One of them your gift, in the youth trials. But I didn't get final numbers last I talked to Telyar —" Oh, she's being asked about Breakwater, and in a way that's amusing, as a bonus: "You're, um, probably right. I'm from there — there's not that much breeding that goes on, they don't currently have any phenomenal runner lines, but they do make some pretty phenomenal fishing boats. Working on the equine venture, though." No thanks to Fort Weyr. But they fixed it!

T'eo gives a gasp for air, mostly playfully when Cenlia lets go of him. He smirks a moment after, but then notices his own shirt. "Shells." Murmured under his breath. "Yeah… well apart from losing some energy I don't imagine he could have done too much. He's a weird little beast." Speaking still of the loose runner. "There is no reason on Pern he should be able to run as well as he does and by the amount he eats you'd think he was a draught beast." He shakes his head again, "Did someone say something about napkins?" He obviously didn't see V'lad arrive. He looks about, hands sticky, before leaning over to fish up the two glasses which surprisingly did not break. "Boats?" He perks up a moment, looking over at the two gold riders. Meanwhile Raenth has been paying attention ever since "dragon food" became a topic. The bronze stares intently down at the two by the fence, eyes whirrling. He, like the others around him, followed the runner's course and was equally disappointed Lorena did not make good on her threat.

Isn't that the best way to teach? Kyzen certainly absorbs what Inri tells him easily enough, mollified by her answer. "It's bad to run off," he burbles in agreement, light blue eyes drifting to peer up at Th'ero, who at present is trying very hard not to laugh. Given Kyzen has the tendency to run off too (hence the aforementioned harness and leash). "Really? I'd have thought that colt would've been good as a ride or work runner only…" Th'ero sounds genuinely surprised as he replies to Inri but also rather impressed. Quieting as Cenlia brings up Breakwater too, it takes the Fortian Weyrleader a few moments into Inri's reply to realize something doesn't quite add up. "Are we speaking of the same Holds?" he asks, a brow quirked up in an amused but confused way. There's a cough. "Ah, yes. They are getting started with runner stock. Curious to see how their two entrants do…" But further conversation and speculation will have to wait! Kyzen has spotted something and tugs impatiently at his father's sleeve. Could be Kimmila has returned with the food and drink? Or is it another runner? Something shiny? Who knows, but Th'ero hastily excuses himself before the boy takes the initiative and tears off without him.

The crowd has milled back into their usual patterns now. Those who stood up or ran to see the runaway are now back in their seats and vendors are visited by the few not interested in racing. The call to post starts again. T'eo gives up on the glasses and takes a seat beside Cenlia, both matching in their wine-stained glory as the pretty prancing runners are trotted out to the first start… Still Zhirayr had it right, it isn't nearly as interesting after all that.


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