Fort Weyr - 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.

Clouds hang overhead, broken up from time to time by bursts of sunlight and blue, autumnal skies. Wind periodically whips through the area and while it is chilly the day is otherwise perfect for any venture outdoors. With autumn in full swing, the forests are alive with colour and the leaves still cling to the branches to show off a myriad of vivid hues. Against the startling blue sky, it's beautiful and serene and who wouldn't want to be out and about? The blueberry barrens, usually quiet are still quiet but there is the low murmur of a few voices. Some of the weyrfolk have come out to harvest the last of the berries from the bushes here and their voices carry over the wind and the occasional avian call. While there is no risk of immediate danger here, a few Guards are patrolling when not helping out and a few riders are on hand too for any transport needs. Not that it's that far of a walk back to the Weyr. Th'ero is standing off to the side, leaning casually against the trunk of a large tree as he observes the barrens in a distracted and thoughtful manner. Even he did not wish to be cooped up on a day like this!

Kimmila never wishes to be cooped up, especially in the fall. There are things to see and many beauties to enjoy in this season, and the bluerider loves exploring all that the forests have to offer. Wearing her riding leathers, jacket open, a brown tunic beneath with her leaf necklace prominent against her sternum, the bluerider leaves Varmiroth in the landing zone and meanders through the bushes, finding a small handful of berries to nibble on as she makes her way to Th'ero's side. "Hello."

May as well enjoy the beauty of fall before the cold and snow swoop in! Th'ero starts from his thoughts as Kimmila sneaks up on him and he looks a touch flustered and embarrassed that she was able to sneak up on him like that. "Wingmate." he greets, slipping an arm around her and hugging her close to his side. A chaste little display of affection and so is the kiss to her cheek. The berry pickers don't even look up from their work! "Good to see you. Are you back from duties?" he asks as he smiles down at her fondly and then out over to the barrens. "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

Kimmila grins, leaning against him as she holds up a blueberry between her pinched fingers, offering it to him. "It is beautiful. And yes, we are. Took a few scenic detours." The pair can't resist fall colors, and their duties of late have taken longer than they typically do just because they want to stop and sightsee. "How's everything here?"

Th'ero takes the blueberry from her fingers and pops it into his mouth, nodding his head while he chews and swallows. "Can't blame you for the detours. Even I had Velokraeth glide mostly on the way here." he admits in a low murmur. He shrugs and juts his chin out towards the barrens. "Peaceful, as you can see. Not even so much as a wild wherry about to stir things up. They've been picking since morning. We'll be well stocked in wild berries this winter." Smiling crookedly, he then shifts on his feet and holds up his arm to her. "Walk with me? Maybe we'll grab a basket for ourselves." Why not?

Kimmila nods, nibbling on another blueberry as she gazes around. "Excellent," she murmurs. "Jams and preserves and baked goods. Delicious. I love blueberries." She loves everything fresh. Linking her arm through his, she nods with a smile, easy and relaxed. "Yes! Let's."

Th'ero laughs softly. "Are they your favourite among all berries?" he muses, already tucking that little note away in his head. 'Loves blueberries'. Check! He leads on towards a small stack of extra baskets and holds a small one out for her to take and grabs one for himself while at it. "Looks like there's some ripe bushes there, by the incline!" he says, pointing to the far side where the ground slopes somewhat steeply down and the bushes overhanging it are laden with ripe berries. "So anything new among the cotholds?" Th'ero asks as he walks sedately towards their intended targets. Let the berry picking begin!

Kimmila shakes her head. "No, I prefer strawberries, but really…anything fresh and fruity I'm a sucker for." Taking the basket, she peers where he points and moves in that direction to start picking. "Oh, the usual things. Broken fences, flooded roads, trails in need of repair. I've got a new list of things for my riders. We'll get them done."

"You and I both, Wingmate." Th'ero muses and he has never kept his love of fruit a secret though usually claims no preference. Fruit is fruit to him! "Sounds like a busy season," he drawls, stepping past her to select a few bushes nearby and begins to deftly pluck the blueberries from the branches. "Any chance of you having some time away?" It's asked in an innocent enough tone, but knowing him there's a reason why he's curious.

Kimmila nods, "It's fall. Fall is always busy. Wet weather, preparing for the winter…last harvests. It's big." Glancing at him at his question, she lifts her brows and smirks a bit. "I'm the wingleader, I can do whatever I want."

Th'ero chuckles dryly. "I figured as much," he tells her and then gives her a sidelong look with a smirk that is a little bit wry. What? "Ahh, is that so?" he teases her gently, pausing in his picking to turn and face her, still stepping back if she continues to work through the bushes. "If that's the case, you won't mind if I ask of you to have the end of this sevenday off? Just the two days."

Kimmila grins, picking berries and dropping one into her mouth for every five or six that make it to the basket. "Well, if my Weyrleader allows it, I believe I could manage to take two days off."

Nothing wrong with snacking while working and Th'ero will steal a few berries to nibble on too. He quirks a brow, "Your Weyrleader is not demanding but simply requesting. But I'm glad you can get the time away. You are certain it will not be a problem? It could wait until after the busy season." he murmurs and goes back to filling his basket with more berries.

Kimmila shakes her head a bit, considering. "Let me look at my lists and the calendar when I get back. I'll have to make sure I have enough riders to cover those two days. And I'll be especially busy until then, getting all of my things done. But I should be able to swing it."

"If you need any help to keep the work balanced, let me know? The Weyrlings are at your disposal too, you know. M'icha would trust you to put 'em to work if it involves some straight flight." Th'ero murmurs, flashing her a smile. He looks pleased that she may be able to swing it and he remains hopeful too that HE won't be tied up abruptly either. Focusing back on the task of berry picking, there is a sudden commotion on the other end of the barrens. It sounds worse than it is — all that occurred was someone was stung by an insect. Th'ero however is curious and he goes to step back to get a better look, only to have his heel catch a loose bit of dirt and DOWN he goes! Right into some bushes below and he swears as he flails and detangles himself but does not get up right away. Bruised pride, anyone? He looks just fine, save for some dirt on his pants, a few smooched berries on his tunic sleeve and some leaves in his hair.

Kimmila nods, "I will. And that's a nice idea, the Weyrlings. Wonder why I didn't think of it." Because she's busy with a bunch of other things? Her attention is drawn to the commotion, hand twitching slightly to her dagger before it moves away. And then Th'ero is falling. With a startled sound, Kimmila makes a grab for him but misses, and instead she can only peer down at him. And giggle. "You okay?" she asks, concerned but also amused as she leans down to offer him her hand.

Th'ero grunts and reaches for her hand after she's giggled at his situation. Thanks! Once on his feet, he'll give a smile that looks at ease to those who witnessed his tumble and are hesitantly stepping forwards only to be waved off by the Weyrleader. "I'm fine!" he tells them and they nod their heads and go back to work. Kimmila will be able to tell that his smile is strained though and he isn't bearing as much weight as he should on one side. Bending his head down, he whispers in a tight voice. "There was a needlethorn bush in there." Uh oh. "Walk with me to the trees?" he asks of her as he exhales shakily. Need he even elaborate where those thorns are right now?

Kimmila flinches at his whispered words, her eyes looking him up and down. "Faranth, wingmate," she hisses, offering him her arm so they can hobble slowly into the trees. "You are…I can't take you anywhere," she says with laughter that's just a /bit/ strained.

Th'ero takes her arm but will he hobble? Pfft, no. He'll walk like a MAN to those trees and only show the faintest of limps as he carries himself with whatever pride he has left. See, everyone? All is good. Once they're behind the trees, he sighs gustily and swears, trying to twist around to survey the damage. Minor, really but thorns are thorns. Just one sucks! "It's not like I meant for that to happen," he quips at her, smirking crookedly. "I'm not badly hurt. Just thorns." In his backside.

Kimmila turns around him and crouches down, grimacing. "Let me pull them out," she murmurs. Well…duh? Hopefully he doesn't want them to /stay/ in, because she's already taking one between pinched fingers and pulling.

Th'ero grunts and clenches his teeth to bite back a few oaths when she pulls out the first thorn. Growling under his breath, he braces against a nearby tree and suffers through her finding and plucking each one. Of course he wants them out! By the third one though, once he's finished grumbling he with exhale heavily. "Wingmate, I'm sorry." For being such a klutz. It's true, does he ever stay out of trouble?

Kimmila shakes her head, giving his leg a squeeze. "It's fine, it's fine. Let's just get this over with." For him. She doesn't mind that much, she's not the one in pain.

Th'ero tilts and turns his head around as much as he can to get a look at her which is awkward given the angle. It's not that much pain, just discomfort and uncomfortable. Eventually the last of the thorns will be found and when he moves to test there is a sigh of relief. That, at least, has passed. Yet he still looks guilty and sounds as much when he murmurs. "Thank you, Wingmate."

Kimmila pushes to her feet and offers him a kiss, her concern clear in her eyes. "You okay?" she asks, rubbing his chest gently. "You picked a terrible place to fall over…"

Th'ero returns the kiss and slips his arms around her as she rubs his chest. "I'm fine. I mean, I'd ask you to maybe kiss it better, but we don't need actual proof of you kissing ass to the Weyrleader, hmm?" he drawls in a sarcastic voice and sobers seconds later. "I know and I always seem to find trouble, don't I?"

Kimmila snorts, and then she /laughs/. "Good one, good one," she laughs, snickering and shaking her head. "And you do, but it's okay. Keeps things interesting?" That's good, right?

He did a good joke? Th'ero laughs softly, his mood lifting when she seems so amused. Holding her close to his body, he kisses the top of her head and chuckles low in his throat. "Glad I am keeping things interesting with my knack of finding trouble. Come on, we best get back out there or they WILL think I am having some scandalous wild fun with you here in the underbrush." he muses, stepping back and shifting his weight as he tests his injury. Nothing pricking him! He sighs in relief.

Yes, he did a very good joke. Kimmila chuckles again, shaking her head, amused. "Very amused." Snickering, she takes his hand and leads him back out with a grin. Which…might make it seem like they just had fun /anyway/, but she doesn't care. Getting the basket, she moves back to where he 'found' the needlethorn bush, pulling gloves from her pocket. "Odd to have one here," she muses, crouching down to gently pick at some of the needles. "Ah. Too small for Healer use. That's unfortunate. I think we should get a shovel and dig it out."

Th'ero takes her hand in return, grinning back and it probably DOES look like they have just had a quickie behind the trees. Let them think whatever they want! Because it was totally not a romantic moment. Reclaiming his basket too and following her back to that spot, he grimaces when the plant is found. "Probably just an uncommon fluke. Pity. Guess all the GOOD needles were in my ass…" he grumbles and then motions to one of the workers. "Mind passing over a shovel?" he calls and while he waits for it to be brought, he adds quietly to Kimmila. "Can I have the satisfaction of burning it?" Poor plant.

Kimmila laughs, shaking her head. "This isn't the climate for needlethorn. Stunted, too, from the berries taking all the sun. As they should. This is a berry patch, not a needlethorn patch." Snickering, she grins at him. "Sure, if you'd like…"

"Figures that I'd FIND the stupid thing." Th'ero grumbles and then at her snickering he grins. "We need a fire anyways to warm some klah and refreshments for the workers." Oh yeah, he totally made up an excuse there to burn the needle thorn bush! Once a shovel is brought over, the Weyrleader thanks the man and then nods towards the plant. "You hold and tug, I'll dig?" he offers. She's got the gloves on, anyhow!

Kimmila laughs. "Oh. Right. Yeah, that fire." Riiight. "Yeah, since I've got the gloves," she agrees, carefully finding a place to grasp the offending plant.

"Was there another fire?" Th'ero drawls with a snicker and he moves into position. With a grunt, he begins to dig out the plant from around the roots. Stunted as it is, it shouldn't be too hard to pull out and once they succeed, he exhales in satisfaction. Take THAT, plant!

Kimmila shakes her head, just grinning at him as they set to work. "There," she says, holding it up. "Now fill in the hole before someone breaks an ankle." It's a cursed spot!

Maybe they should mount it on a wall as a trophy? Along with the feline hides and skulls and the wild boar tusks! Totally fits, right? Th'ero snorts, "Good thinking. Otherwise I'd be MY ankle in there, hmm?" he drawls and fills the hole swiftly. Task done, he offers his hand to Kimmila then. "Come on, Wingmate. Lets get a small fire going and some food and drink set. Looks like they're just about done with the harvest."

Kimmila grins at him. "Well, I didn't want to /say/ that…" But yes. She pulls off her gloves before she takes his hand, making sure the thick wherryhide isn't playing host to any lingering thorns before she sticks the gloves into her pocket. "Sounds great. We're better at that than picking berries anyway…" Obviously.

Th'ero rolls his eyes in a playful away and leads them back towards a small clearing that the guards have already dug out a pit and have it lined with rocks and some wood stacked nearby. Tossing the thorn bush into the pit, the Guards give it a questioning look but more curiosity is given to the Weyrleader when he continues to converse with Kimmila and list off a slew of promises. "Is anything safe? I'll try not to fall into the pit either, or into the fire, or catch anything on fire, or cut myself on my knife or…" And it goes on until he can't help but chuckle heartily as he heads over to where the supplies have been stored and begins to unpack the food and drink while the Guards just bite their tongues and set the fire.

Kimmila laughs, and then laughs some more as his list rambles on. And on. And onnnnn. Winking at the guards, Kimmila follows after him, yelping in mock fear and reaching out to carefully take a redfruit from him. Plucking off the stem, she tosses it to the fire and then ever so carefully hands the redfruit back. There. It's safe now.

By now the Guards are just giving them looks but amused ones. They're not so stuck up and rigid, being young and seeing the Weyrleader and his weyrmate being so laid back and playful puts them in a good mood in turn. Who are they to fault them? No doubt they want to get home now but they'll set the fire and then start assembling the cooking spit and grills. The workers are wrapping up and soon there will be many a hungry and thirsty mouth milling about. Th'ero startles when she yelps in mock fear and then sighs when the red fruit is handed back. Grinning at her, he holds it up. "What if I choke?" he drawls and then takes a BIG bite of it. Well?

Kimmila just laughs at him, giving his back a gentle pat. "I think you can eat properly." She /hopes/ he can because..>Faranth. That'd be bad. Moving away, she starts to prepare some of the whole chickens for the cooking spit, slathering them in butter and herbs, stuffing them with onions and carrots before setting them on the fire and starting to turn. Those will take the longest, but they'll be amazing when they're done.

Th'ero snorts and swallows the bite of red fruit without incident, handing her some of it once she's done preparing the chickens for the spits. He'll take care of the pots and filling them with water to boil for the sack of grains brought along. There are also clay containers with potatoes and vegetables to cook later. A delicious feast for all the hard work! "I think all of this will make getting a needle thorn bush to the ass worth it," he drawls to Kimmila. The workers are wrapping up the harvest now, the last stages before they can at last come to sit around the fire. Conversation is light and fun, laughter easy going and no one seems to even care that the Weyrleader is there and that the ranks present are a mixture of the highest to the lowest.

Kimmila snickers. "Is anything worth that?" she has to ask, grinning amusedly at him. She settles into the work, happy to be helping and essentially serving the workers. It feels good to be out, to be /doing/ things with her own two hands.

Th'ero steps in close, a few tools in hand so he can whisper privately by her ear as he slips on passed. "It may have been worth it if you could have kissed it all better." He is grinning broadly as he moves on and he will help carve the chickens when they're done, passing the pieces to Kimmila to serve, leaving her and the workers and the Guards the more choice pieces. He'll content himself with others and maybe a wing or three and the drumsticks. It does feel good to be out and doing work work. No politics, no desk work… And then there's the conversations and the social aspect too.

"Later, wingmate, later," Kimmila hisses back at him, grinning. She is happy in her work, for once /wanting/ to be social, serving, moving around and picking up plates, cleaning up, cooking more. Enjoying herself quite a bit in the fresh fall air.

Th'ero chuckles throatily and grins back. Later! He'll hold her to it. Once everyone has been served, he'll take some time to eat from his plate before helping to clear all the leftovers, the plates and joining Kimmila in cleaning up and dishing out any of the remaining food. The weather holds and the spirit among the workers stays positive. Someone even begins to sing some lively tune, half serious and half satirical and others pick up the tune as well, including Th'ero too. He sings a bit hesitantly and rather low, but his voice is among the others.

Kimmila grins, moving over to Th'ero's side and slipping her arm around his waist. She begins to sing too, looking adoringly up at him as the tune soars and drops around them.

Th'ero leans against her side and slips his arm around her in turn, offering her a mug of some of the fruit cider they've served throughout lunch. It's warm and spiced (and non-alcoholic) and he's had his fair share of it. The song comes to an end, met by a few cheers and much laughter and clapping before someone calls out another title. This one is a bawdy song, which has the few women present groaning or snickering. The men out number them all, but maybe they'll get their revenge later! Th'ero chuckles in his throat and he'll join in this one too. How he knows the lyrics… well…

Kimmila has learned not to ask. To just accept that there are some things about her weyrmate that she'll just never know. And, well…she knows this one very well too. And once it's finished, she'll shout out the title of its opposite, giving the ladies a turn to lament about the qualities of men.

Th'ero has very few secrets left that Kimmila wouldn't know about or have assumed by now. His trust with her has gone so deep that he wouldn't keep anything from her. Couldn't keep anything from her. When she shouts out the next title, the men roar with laughter while the women cheer, which results in a few taunting jeers and good natured teasing before the song begins, sung mostly by the women. Th'ero is laughing, giving Kimmila a nudge to her side for her "hand" in the coup. Nicely done!

Kimmila winks at him as she continues singing, and when that song is over she lets someone else take the lead. "Dance?" she asks softly, taking his hand and giving it a little tug.

Someone will take the lead and this song is long and carries a good tempo too it, aided by a few who have found some sticks or stomp to the beat. Others have the same idea as Kimmila and pairs quickly form. Th'ero isn't about to deny her a dance and when she tugs at his hand he grins to her fondly and nods as he steps forwards to join her. "Let's dance," he murmurs.

Kimmila grins at him, not bothering to move to the center of the area. Instead, she just pulls him to a clear spot so they can dance, light and easy and fun. A mini-gather in the berry patches in fall. Perfect.

Th'ero wouldn't want to be the centre of attention anyhow and he is pulled with her willingly to the clear spot and there he dances with her, light and carefree as though the knot on his shoulder means nothing. It is a mini-gather, a small celebration to acknowledge the hard work put in for yet another harvest even if small and likely not to be noted. This is the reward for the workers, who may not see much in the way of marks. The day is perfect and helps keep everyone's spirits high. Perfect!

Kimmila dances with him to the end, and as folks return to their meal and the sun begins to set, Kimmila tugs gently on Th'ero's arm. "With me, wingmate," she murmurs. "Let's slip away." She has an idea.

Th'ero is a touch breathless by the time the dancing is done and his cheeks are flushed. He had shed his jacket sometime during the preparation of dinner but now hastily snatches it since with the setting sun the temperature begins to cool. "Where are we going?" he asks, curious and amused as he follows along beside her.

Kimmila wraps her fingers through his and grins at him. "This way," she says, confident but coy as she leads him into the woods beyond the bushes. Through the trees, well known to her, she pauses to study a fallen one before brushing her fingers against its trunk and continuing on.

Th'ero takes her hand and grips it firm as he is lead along through the forests. Intrigued, he will watch her when his eyes are not taking in landmarks. Trying to pinpoint where they are or where she may be taking them. The way she touches the fallen tree has him all the more curious but he keeps his questions held back. This is her territory and he knows it!

Kimmila leads him through the forest until they reach a small meadow. It's only about twenty feet across, and carpeted in the spring and summer with lush grasses and wildflowers. Now though, it's dead and dying, but beautiful just the same. Tugging him to the center, she sits down and then lays on her back, hands behind her head and she points upwards. "Stargazing."

Th'ero doesn't seem to mind the dead and dying state of the meadow. It is beautiful for it's remoteness and serene calm, something he values and loves. Tugged along, he follows and then joins her, sighing softly as he stretches out on his back and gazes up towards the night skies. "Stargazing?" he muses, reaching for her hand but brushing his fingers along her side instead. "Do you even know the names?"

Kimmila nods, "Yes," she answers, smiling over at him before her eyes move skyward again. Her hand reaches out to rest against his leg, and she sighs, soft and contentedly. "Do you?"

Th'ero shifts closer to her side until they are gently pressed together and he keeps his gaze skywards. He chuckles, "Of course I do. Had to learn them from a young age." he drawls. "And then again when I became a dragonrider. I've always liked that particular constellation…" And he'll lift his hand up to trace it's location and vague shape, murmuring the name as he does.

Kimmila nods, "That one is nice," she agrees. "I used to talk to that one," she admits, pointing out another. "Feels like an old friend. I'd tell it my hopes, my dreams…every night."

Th'ero's eyes follow where she points and he makes a soft sound of understanding. He knows that one too but when Kimmila explains her history with it, he turns his head and gazes at her. "Did it help?" he asks her softly, reaching over again with his hand to rest it against her thigh and gently squeeze.

Kimmila turns her head to look back at him. "It…kind of helped, I suppose. It was nice to talk, at least, but it never talked back." There's a little grin for that. Obviously it didn't!

Th'ero laughs softly. "I'd hope not," he murmurs and grins a little in return. There is another gaze towards the stars and then he is drifting his focus back to her, fond and admiring.

Kimmila smiles over at him, but her eyes keep returning to the stars as more and more appear. "Did you ever stargaze?" she asks quietly. "When you were young?"

Th'ero chuckles and slowly turns his eyes back up towards the sky. "Not exactly. Never had the time. I'd have to learn though and sometimes we went out to sea when the stars were out or not yet faded and had to use them to navigate. Never for fun." Of course not. That wouldn't be the Irondell way!

Of course not. "Then we'll do it for fun tonight," she says warmly, smiling over at him and scooting closer, trying to nestle in against his side and rest her head on his shoulder. "So peaceful," she murmurs.

Th'ero won't deny her nestling in close against his side, lifting his arm up and then slipping it around her once she's comfortable. He tilts his head, just enough so that his cheek rests against her head and she will feel him inhale deep and then exhale slowly. "Very peaceful and so very needed." he murmurs.

Kimmila smiles. "We need more quiet, relaxing times like this, wingmate," she murmurs softly.

"I know," Th'ero murmurs back and then his mouth quirks into a wry half-grin. "Are you still free for the two days I asked of you? If you want quiet… Well, some of it will be quiet and relaxing." He chuckles then, almost sounding smug. What was that about secrets?

Kimmila eyes him in the darkness and starlight. "I am, but now I'm…" Hesitant? Nervous? "Very curious as to what we'll be up to. Can you give me a hint so I know what to pack at least?"

Th'ero chuckles throatily. "We won't be up to much. Whatever the mood inspires for the getaway I've planned. You need only bring some clothes or just wear a sturdy set. Where we are going is not a public place and requires some… bravery to reach." And trust. Lots and lots of trust.

Kimmila arches her brows at him. "Bravery? So hiking clothes. Sturdy boots. Dragons?"

Th'ero grins and hugs her close to his side and kisses her forehead. "Yes to all. We'll be flying straight and leave our flight gear with them. Hiking clothes and sturdy boots… would be perfect, I think. All the rest, I will have taken care of. I've been there and made sure it was safe and I… added a few things."

Kimmila laughs softly. "Wingmate. I am super curious about this now. How am I supposed to wait until then?"

Th'ero laughs as well but he only grins and gently 'boops' her nose with a single finger. "You'll just have to wait since that is part of it, Wingmate. Otherwise what kind of surprise would it be if I gave it away? Not that it'll be much different than most of our private escapes. A bit of wine, some dinner, maybe a wild romp or… three. It's how we get there. Well. You'll see."

Kimmila closes her eyes at the bop, smirking a bit. "Alright, fine," she mutters, eying him. In the end though, she's content with the surprise and settles back down to lay against his shoulder and watch the stars.