Dangerous Prey

Fort's Forests ~~ Fort Weyr - Forest Underbrush

A copse of evergreen pines and lush vegetation borders this large, circular clearing entirely. Poking out of the forest towards the northeast, an immense, petrified log rests on the ground creating a long, natural bench. Ideal as additional seats or even as low tables, several flat rocks and stumps by the log surround a makeshift fire pit which is not currently lit. A single pine grows at the very heart of this clearing. The perfectly round trench that encircles it is clear evidence that someone is making sure it thrives here.


The drizzle hasn't curtailed this certain chore the candidates are required to do and that is helping to provide for the Weyr's larder. Well, maybe more like learning how to hunt. Or learning how not to hunt might be even more accurate. While some of them have been flown to Fort SeaHold to mend nets and gut fish, Edani and Inyri were among the (lucky?) few chosen to learn tracking. So here they are, sneaking through the underbrush with the rider assigned to them, looking at teeny-tiny sign of passage and trying not to make any noise that would scare critters away.

The mistake that Inyri already knew how to fish was made, at least in part. That is to say, Inyri is from a background where fishing should be easy for her, and she knows the /technique/ behind fishing — but she's not very good at fishing. That does not mean that she's much better at tracking, though she has at least gotten the hang of walking without making a million sticks crack under her feet obnoxiously. She's also not learned to stop talking: "What am I supposed to do with this knife?" she whispers to Edani. "Stab a wild animal with it?"

Drizzle does not normally make good weather for a stroll, but for some it can be rightly ignored and out in the deeper forests it's unlikely as much moisture gets through in parts. It also makes for a strange location to drag one's Senior Weyrwoman to, but the Weyrleader has done just that. Spending a good chunk of time trying to convince Dtirae on the idea, he's finally managed (somehow) to do so and hopefully set back some of the goldrider's growing stir-crazy moods of late. Th'ero is a Guard by past, a hunter only by necessity then and now more as a hobby or pass time, though usually he ventures further south for his quarry. Today though, he's brought Dtirae up some of the lesser known trails, dressed comfortably in his dark and sombre jacket and pants he stalks quietly among the shadows. He's armed, but not for hunting. Some distance away from Inyri and Edani, neither seem aware of their crossing paths until their voices, or one of them at least, are overheard by the Weyrleader. Rather than spoil their work, Th'ero motions subtly to Dtirae: hide, before they're seen. Because that's what good Weyrleadership does. Watch their candidates flounder at their duties, while lurking in the shadows. Not creepy at all!

It certainly takes a lot to drag the Weyrwoman away from the eggs, it is also likely that Zuvaleyuth played a part in getting the woman to depart, after all: the woman was acting worse than even the gold. That is saying something,. The woman's path follows Th'ero's, equipped for small game rather than a bigger hunt. If the grin is any indication to her mood, one can assume being away from the Sands is doing the woman so good. She is alert, so she doesn't miss the gesture. Attention perks and her eyes dart towards there the voices seeming come from. The grin that spreads upon her lips is far more predatory than the first as she slips into the underbrush. A hunter knows how to hide, after all.

Whereas Edani is pretty good at bluewater fishing (fresh water fishing tried only once the day before - and unsuccessfully at that), he's never stalked quarry before. Ever. And so though he's trying to follow the instructions and not step on anything he can step over, well, he manages to kick things now and then so he's quiet, but not silent. The issued knife he's been given is still in sheathed on his hip, but he murmurs an answer to Inyri with a headshake, "Don't think they'd give us that task our first hunt out. I'm guessing we'll learn skinning? Or gutting." If the rider with them finds something to snare. If they haven't scared everything away, that is.

"Well, I don't /want/ to have to stab anything, so that's good," Inyri whispers back, turning the knife over and over in her hands and hoping that Kimmila is not in fact about to skewer her with something for being a total idiot when it comes to weapons. "I can skin and gut fish okay —" And then it dawns on her that maybe, even if her voice is low, tromping around in underbrush is not actually the place to be having a conversation, and the female candidate shuts her trap. And ducks, narrowly missing getting her hair tangled up in a branch. She succeeds in missing it!

Kimmila is the woman who roasted a whole (dead) bird to teach her very young daughter a healthy fear of fire. Made her watch the feathers singe off the the skin blister…so who knows what's going to happen out here. The bluerider has her bow with her, drawn, arrow notched as they move through the forest, and her steps are nearly silent. Turns of hunting have given her that hunter's step, and she moves softly over the underbrush. "Depends on what we see," she says, voice low and soft. "If anything," and she shoots the candidates a slightly amused look. Slightly, because they're kind of cute in their ineptitude.

Th'ero is alert as well, though he gives Dtirae a long look for her predatory grin. He's not quite grinning himself, but there is a strange sort of smile on his lips as he ducks away into the underbrush and likely nearby to her or right up close to her side if her choice of hiding spot allows. A hunter does know how to hide and hide he does, remaining perfectly still and silent, senses keen and eyes watchful. By now most of the conversation can be heard, their cover still safe. He tenses though when he realizes it's Kimmila who's leading the pair or escorting them rather. Well this might make things interesting… or awkward. Perhaps both? Regardless, he only glances sidelong towards Dtirae as Edani and Inyri speak among themselves, likely trying to gauge the Weyrwoman's mood or thoughts.

Dtirae looks to Th'ero as he settles in beside her in the underbrush, a soft chuckle slipping from her lips but it is quickly silenced in order to watch the prey - Candidates. Grey eyes are focused, and dancing with amusement, something lasting rather than fleeting as it has been the last few sevendays. Paranoia certainly did set in a some point, but worries are forgotten in the wilderness. The bluerider is noted with a slight furrow of her brows before it fades as she looks to Th'ero, nodding once, giving him practically full lead.

Edani's hand hovers at the sight of those wicked-looking branch fingers reaching all that long brown hair to grasp, dropping it with a sigh that might be partly chagrin at missing the opportunity to help Inyri untangle. The hand is shoved into his pocket, while he squints with no little worry at that knife she's carrying. "If you trip you could get hurt with that-" he nods to it. "Be careful?" He doesn't ask why she's got it unsheathed but it's on the tip of his tongue to do it when Kimmila speaks. He tries not to look sheepish at their lack of stealth. He doesn't see Th'ero and Dtirae at all. He's not even looking around. He's just eyeing the ground for tracks and well… watching out for Inyri?

Inyri glances down at the knife again, with what is almost a curious expression, then — sheaths it again, and doesn't shove it in her pocket, at least. She's just holding it, more carefully now, treading as softly as she can and actually looking where she walks well enough to not break anything. "I'm learning to zip it," she promises Kimmila in a soft voice, after a few more glances around for anything at all. Something does catch her eye for a moment, and her body tenses up; there is movement in the brush, but it's probably just some small rodent or something else otherwise entirely uninteresting. (It's not a Weyrleader; the pair of them are doing way too good a job at being subtle to catch Inyri's attention.)

Kimmila moves forward quietly, nodding with approval when Inyri puts the knife away. "You won't need that unless we catch something," she murmurs, pausing at the movement that Inyri spots. Green eyes roam around the trees around them, peering into the depths as she lifts a hand to signal for silence. Tilting her head, she listens as intently as she looks.

Giving Th'ero full lead is not always the best of ideas. But he will not argue, not while he has Dtirae in a far better mood and one not set in paranoia. Though one would have to question the intelligence (or lack there of) behind the Weyrleaders decision to lurk in the woods around Candidates currently chaperoned (fancy way of saying guarded!) by one of the more skilled blueriders when it came to hunting… or taking down unsavory characters. Somehow this is just begging for trouble, but the deed is done. The Weyrleader merely nods his head subtly to Dtirae and then is back to watching Edani and Inyri work their way through, keeping his amusement wisely in check. Tenseness returns to his posture though when Kimmila stops, seeing that age old gesture for silence. Uh oh. Carefully, he creeps backwards, hoping Dtirae catches the hint: move. Back away. He keeps low, says nothing but even he will give away signs… for those who know what to look for.

Best idea or not, the Weyrwoman is out for fun, regardless. She really doubts that they'll go running in, flailing knives around like idiots and getting themselves and the weyrleaders hurt in the process. Hopefully. Dtriae notices the gesture and the woman carefully draws back from her position where she watches, following along with Th'ero. If she were paying more attention to the man, she would note him giving away their position, but, attention lies with where the fun is to be had.

Relaxing with a silent sigh as Inyri sheathes her knife, Edani goes back to searching the ground, taking those tracking pointers to heart. He's also watching where he steps and is doing a little better though not totally silent with his footsteps. When Kimmila signals for silence, he's looking down, not up. That they've both stopped is something he only notices when he nearly walks smack into Inyri, hands reaching for her upper arms to catch-steady her instead of ploughing into her. Just call him Grace? 'Sorry' he mouths without making a sound, and now he IS sheepish with the crinkly-grin of apology telling the tale. He slowly releases the young woman and eases a half-step back, watching Kimmila, then following her line of sight, he strains his eyes to see what she's looking and listening for.

Inyri most definitely can't, even as she's squinting. While the motion caught her, now she can't place anything else — not with eyes or ears either one. Though some of that may have to do with how now her entire body has tensed up; it was her instinctive reaction to the near-collision with Edani, and now that she's trying to hold still, she can't help herself but completely tense. It's the easiest way to not move and not make a sound — at least after a little bit of time, she remembers to breathe. The beastcrafter-candidate gets an understanding little smile, before her focus goes back to watching the bluerider.

Kimmila holds perfectly still, and then in a soft voice she murmurs to the Candidates, "If I say run, you run." She leaves no room for questions, no room for arguments, as she slowly turns to point her arrow right into the brush where Th'ero and Dtirae are hiding. "Show yourselves," the bluerider says, her voice firm and laced with iron. "Or I'll start sending in arrows until you do, or you die." Yeah, she's been attacked in these woods. It might not have been the best idea to try and stalk the Candidates that she was leading. Because she's not fooling around right now, shifting a bit to put Edani and Inyri behind her. At the same time, Varmiroth is launching into the sky back at the weyr, with a hasty, « There might be trouble, » sent, ironically, to Velokraeth. Oh, the awkward.

And herein lies the lesson for the Candidates: if you're going to stalk dangerous prey, be sure you have an escape plan and make sure you escape /before/ you're noticed. Dtirae's source of fun is about to come to an abrupt end and the tracking lesson for Edani and Inyri taking a brief tangent. Or perhaps some added education: be wary that you are not becoming the hunted while hunting. Th'ero freezes when Kimmila points her arrow straight for where both he and the Weyrwoman are trying to make their sneaky getaway. A sharp look is given to the goldrider, a subtle shake of his head. Don't try anything. Game is up! The bluerider means business, he knows it. Sighing, the Weyrleader decides to take the fall it seems and straightening, slowly and carefully steps out from the shadows and underbrush, ready at any moment to dive for cover if Kimmila fires. He says nothing though, simply holding his hands up about shoulder level and in a warding, defensive way, his eyes focused only on Kimmila and that arrow she has drawn. He smirks. Don't shoot?

Perhaps it's for the best that the Weyrwoman doesn't immediately start laughing, though she certainly looks like she's about to burst with the way her lips press together. Even getting caught seems to be fun to Dtirae. No wonder the woman was considered a prankster when younger if this is how she responds to getting caught red handed. Of course, it comes out, eventually, as a small snort as she follows after Th'ero. Her hands are up in the air, though the woman keeps snickering.

Edani's gone from relaxed to tense in no time flat. He frowns and eases forward on his toes to breathe into Inyri's ear (the one furthest from the bluerider, like that will keep Kimmila from hearing or something) an almost inaudible, "You run, I'm not leaving her alone out here." Nevermind that she's pret-ty impressive with that drawn bow, it just goes against the grain for him to turn tail and leave a woman behind to face… whatever she's calling out. He'll probably get called on it later, but that's his intention, anyway. If there were room and time to do it, he'd be stepping between Inyri and Kimmila (not stupid enough to step in front of that arrow, nope) at the very least, but there's a rustle and out step… the Weyrleaders?! He can't help it, his sense of humor rises to fore and he drawls, "Nice catch, Ma'am. But I'd rather not skin those."

Eyes widening, Inyri whispers back to Edani, "I don't think you need to worry about it," in a teasing tone that isn't clear who it's teasing more: Edani for being concerned about her, or Kimmila for accidentally threatening the Weyreladers. After the moment of silence that follows Edani's question, Inyri just can't resist it: dealing with rank has never been her best ability, but she knows when to clarify before doing something stupid, and so she does — raising her fingertip up in the air for attention, rather than, for instance, her knife. "I'm sorry, but is this an appropriate time for me to laugh? Because my instinct here is to just start laughing but I'd hate to be out of line or disrespectful. Just to clear that up?"

Kimmila is not smiling, nor is she amused. The moment Th'ero and Dtirae show themselves she drops the point of her arrow sharply, unnotching it from the string. Her breath is a rather explosive exhale, that comes with a rather strong curse word. And then, "What the HELL is your problem?!" she snaps at the Weyrleaders, angrily shoving her arrow back into its quiver. "Sneaking around stalking Candidates like holdless criminals." And she EYES Th'ero when she says that, and then eyes Dtirae. She snorts, turning to glance at Edani and shaking her head. "I'd like to," she mutters, her words clipped and irritated. Irritated mostly because they unknowingly scared her half to death, her thoughts racing with how she could keep the Candidates safe, how long it'd take Varmiroth to come from the weyr, how fast Th'ero and the guards could get there if they were truly being stalked by men that she, of course, were thinking were Laris'. "And you," she says to Edani, "would have run if I'd said run." Though how she could've enforced that while trying to fight off bad guys is anyone's guess, and something they thankfully don't have to find out. Kimmila shoots Inyri a narrow look. She certainly isn't laughing, as she snorts and crouches down to tighten the laces on her boots, peering into the woods as if wondering which trail would swallow her up. This is quite humiliating, after all, but she can't just laugh it off and make it a joke. No…she's going to make it awkward.

Usually being the awkward mood killer is Th'ero's job. This is turning out to be quite the reversal, isn't it? The Weyrleader's features harden, but whether from anger or guilt or the need to hide it all behind a stoney mask, one can never be certain to why. Only that he does it and meets Kimmila's stare unflinching and his hands lower to his sides again. "Easy, Kimmila. We were not stalking them," he drawls, voice remarkably calm given the bluerider's outburst, eyeing her right back. Stare down, anyone? "We crossed paths, but we figured to hang back and observe, rather than come crashing through. Forgive the oversight." So, its a half truth, but as if he's going to admit that he and Dtirae were going to have a little amusement over watching Edani and Inyri flounder about while the candidates are /right there/. Th'ero can be an ass, but he's not that much of one. Given the color that's risen to his cheeks though, if he's pushed enough his temper may just escape his grip and all will get a glimpse of not-so nice bronzerider. "Go ahead a laugh," he tells Inyri, seeing as Edani is already well into his sense of humor by now by Th'ero's judgement of that comment. "A rather awful misunderstanding is all this is." Glancing back to Dtirae as she steps out as well, he smirks when he overhears her snickering. If that isn't clue enough, then he's stumped.

The Weyrwoman should have better composure, really, but after confinement to the sands (self-induced, but still), she's needed a good laugh, from the looks of it. Inyri and Edani are given a polite wave amongst the snickers, though, she clearly doesn't mean to laugh /at/ Kimmila. There's a moment in which the woman clears her throat and offers the bluerider a polite smile. "It's exactly as Th'ero said. We were out for minor game and happened upon your group, the best course of action was decided to simply wait it out rather than risk startling. Th'ero isn't good at being quiet." Yes, she most certainly will blame her Weyrleader as small fits of laughter begin to bubble forth once again.

Shooting Inyri a look of caution for those quipped words, even though he sort of wants to laugh too, Edani's amusement fades as quickly as it came when Kimmila starts talking. Th'ero and Dtirae recieve not one ounce of judgment from him, nope. Now that they're being berated, he's a touch sympathetic to their plight. They might have been hunting too, for all he knows. Not that he's gonna ask! He manages not to squeak like a girl when Kimmila turns that glare on him, although he meets her eyes without wavering, jaw inflexibly hardened at her correction. Don't ever ask him to do that, he couldn't! He doesn't argue that aloud, though she might read it in his eyes and stance, which he deliberately changes to half-shuttered eyes, slumped shoulders and a singular, dipped headnod as though in defeat. He'll just let her assume he would. And then not do it.

After letting out the briefest of laughs, Inyri, too, falls silent. Kimmila's reaction has made her feel guilty for finding it funny, even if she /still/ thinks it is — it's a confusing combination of different emotions, and as a result leaves her face completely blank. She's not laughing anymore; she's also not looking at anyone, but at the ground. Awkward indeed. Even Inyri's hair is drooping more than it was a few minutes ago, though that's with certainty a result of the angle of her head and not its mood. Eventually, she swallows, and then just nods along — an indication she's paying attention.

Kimmila is still not amused as she straightens, a hand resting on her blue and silver dagger hilt while the other holds on to her bow. "I'm guessing there's no game around here," she says, turning to direct that comment to Edani and Inyri. "Might as well head back to the weyr." Where she can yell at Th'ero in peace. She glances at Edani again and snorts under her breath. She's not buying it, but she won't argue with him. There's only so much you can do, and she knows how stubborn /she/ is. He certainly wouldn't be able to get /her/ to run, for example, if someone were in danger. So it's a moot point, really, and she'll let it drop without further comment. This is going to be the most awkward walk back to the weyr ever.


'The World of Pern(tm)' and 'The Dragonriders of Pern(r)' are copyright to Anne McCaffrey (c) l967, 2000. This is a recorded online session, by permission of the author but generated on PernWorld MUSH for the benefit of people unable to attend.

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