'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.

Stone Barn

Fashioned from the same volcanic material that houses the caverns, these square-cut stones have been laid by a mastercrafter stonemason turns ago to house the implements necessary in caring for Fort Weyr's stock. Large enough to stable several runners, there are also stalls for ailing herdbeast, with straw-covered stone floors within the stalls, the aisle outside swept clean. Overhead is a loft full of hay, grain bins, and other supplies. Large double doors open wide on either end and smaller windows higher up along the walls allow for light and the free flow of fresh air.

At either end of the structure are two work stations, one for leatherwork and another for healing: the waist-high counter of stainless steel with shelving above contains gadgets and tools, jars, bottles and boxes of salve, potion and powders - some of it fairly scary-looking like saws, clippers, clamps and needles. Mingled with the scent of animals and hay is a pungent medicinal smell that marks this as the healer area. The other has a wooden workbench with a rack of snippers, blades, mallets, awls and an anvil beside which are pegs with strips of leather, half-finished harnesses, whips, aprons and wide-brimmed hats. Overhead, shelves with jars of finish - dyes and oils, boxes of coiled rawhide thread for stitching and handtools indicates this is the leatherwork station.

Zap's back. Specifically, Zap is back in the barn to visit that calf again, leaning against the pen and looking down into it and looking at the shaggy bodies inside. One hand dips down, dangling where her little friend can come say hi, lipping at her fingers curiously. At least she's given up the idea of dresses today while she's in here visiting. It would seem she does own at least one practical outfit (it's probably the same outfit she was wearing when the rest of her clothing was dumped). It's later in the afternoon when most people are done with their duties and are free to persue whatever else they'd rather be doing.

Edani, on the other hand, seems to be just checking in because he's dressed in fairly nice clothes and though it's not his gather best, he's certainly not dressed for barn-type chores. He's got a flight jacket thrown over one arm, pressed khaki pants, shiny shoes and a crisp white shirt on. He's been and back, wherever it was because he's still got helmet hair and faint goggle lines around his eyes. Sure, other beastcrafters have seen to the animals, but he's nothing, if not thorough and so has come to check on them for his own peace of mind. Without boot heels to click on stone, his step is fairly silent so enters unobtrusively. Catching sight of Zapallie, he pauses just inside the door, watching her for a few moments before he quietly chuckles, "You look more like the Zapallie I first met. Except for that glowy, sappy look you're giving that calf."

To her credit, when Zap startles at Edani's words from nowhere, she doesn't jerk and spook the calf as well. Her tenseness is fleeting before looking over her shoulder. "Don't you know not to sneak up one me?" grouses the blond, withdrawing her hand from the pen so that she can turn more fully to face him. "And I am /not/ giving anything any sappy looks, thankyouverymuch. I didn't want to come visit her with my nice stuff. My dress got all goobery. Did you just get back from, uh, whatsit, those candidate excursions they've got you all off on?"

When she turns to look, Edani is the picture of lazy amusement, with arms crossed, casually leaning against the door frame. He looks unrepentant, if anything his smile broadens. "Apparently not," he says giving a shrug of one shoulder that effectively serves as a push off and he heads her way, unbuttoning his cuffs and rolling up his sleeves as he takes those strides. Reaching the pen, he leans forearms to the top of the stall door, checking on those calves. “I was, yes. The trip was to Weaver Hall. I brought you back this-" He reaches into a pocket and withdraws a rasp-like comb. "Don't use it on yourself unless you like being bald." He says that with a smirk.

Zapallie eyes the comb for a moment and then her eyes roll upwards towards her hair, getting shaggy now for want of a haircut. "For her?" she guesses, nodding towards the calf. "Does that mean I can have her?" continues Zap, shoulders straightening as she perks up.

The answer to that is a silent turning of the tool's rounded handle towards her as Edani offers it over somberly, but with a dance to those brown eyes of his because casually fluttering between two fingers is a bill of sale as well. "You may. Just sign that and she's yours. Beastcraft will send a replacement calf for whichever one of these you choose to keep." He then reaches fingers towards the calves to see how hungry they seem, but other than lip nibbles none seem to be latching onto him. He flicks a look to the clipboard on the door. "They're fed at dawn and dusk. You should take over her feedings so you can bond with her. Oh and save the hair you comb loose. It’s valuable. You can sell it to the Weavers."

Zapallie does something she rarely does — she reaches for the comb, but rather than stopping there she launches herself forward to hug Edani. "Thank you!" she squeaks, seeming to genuinely mean it. And then, embarrassed at such a rare display of affection she clears her throat and backs away, eyes cast into the pen rather than at him. "What should I name her?" there's not much question about which calf she wants, she's kind of already got something with the one she fed the other day.

Edani steels himself not to flinch at that sudden launching, and even though it certainly does take him by complete surprise, he curls one arm around her to return the hug briefly and in brother-like fashion. He releases her the moment she pulls away, pretending not to notice her embarrassment, leaning back easily on the stall door to study the calf in question. "I suppose Bessie is out," he teases before tilting a look Zap-wards while suggesting, "You could reflect a little of yourself in there and name her Firecracker?" He wouldn't blame her for smacking him for that one!

"Bessie is a horrible name," Zap protests in disgust. "And I am /not/ a firecracker. At least people like those." Ah, there she goes, rolling with the self-recrimination again. "How about…" Crossed-eyed, she stares at the bovine calf and finally pronounces, "I think she looks like a Larabelle."

"Larabelle?!" Edani feigns horror, "Why do I picture an old auntie in a hideously- bright dress and garish makeup?" He's smirking though and shakes his head helplessly. Female names are so not his thing. "Oh. Also, I found you an alternative to the nose ring. It's not perfect but will suffice that you won't have to have her septum pierced." From his other pocket he produces a large clip-like thing with ends forming two balls. "It's a spring-loaded nose clip that you use only when you ride. Speaking of…" He's got another one of those grins tugging at his lips.

Zapallie does elbow Edani for cracking jokes about her name. "Well I'll just have to dress her hideously then." So there! Her face lights up when he shows her the clip though. "And it won't hurt her?" she asks, and then catches onto that grin and looks suspicious again. "Speaking of?" she prompts warily.

"It won't hurt her," Edani assures her, having accepted the elbowing with good grace as deserved. "She won't be fitted for it until she is nine months old, but you can work with her starting now to be ready for it. We'll put a soft halter on her and teach her to lead, and then when she's gotten following you down, you'll use your thumb and forefinger to gently pinch her nasal septum and hold onto it while you walk." ‘See? Easy!’ says his expression. He's a beastcrafter, so fingers up slimy nose are nothing to him. "Speaking of riding, if you're going to train her, you need to know how to do it. With that end in mind, and since you are not wearing a dress…" Oh he's enjoying this! "…now would be a good time for the first lesson?"

Zapallie nods her head, satisfied with that reassurance. "That sounds reasonable," agrees the wandering troublemaker, not even balking at the suggestion that she stick her fingers in that wet, wuffly nose. It won't be the grossest thing she's ever done by a long shot. "Riding…?" she repeats slowly. "Like…right now?" Blink blink. "Er. Sure! Why not."

Edani tosses the noseclip up and catches it in an almost jaunty fashion, obviously pleased to have solved her main worry. "I'll be right back," he tells her. He heads over to the healer workstation, steps out of his shoes, into a hide coverall and clumpy boots stored there, selects a cliplead from one of the hooks and walks out into the pasture. He's only gone a few minutes, leaving her alone with the calves. He doesn't step back inside when he returns, but there's a heavy plodding stomp and snorting sound that accompanies his, "Out here, Zapallie." Oh so innocently!

If Zap's jaw could hit the ground, it would the minute she comes outside. "What is /that/" she protests, staring at the bovine and it's enormous horns. "You could put ME in its horns. That's not what she's going to look like is it?" she asks, suddenly having doubts.

Edani is standing calmly at the giant herdbeast's head, one hand on the massive, humped shoulder, while the animal leans into the scritching he's giving it. "Lulubelle won't look anything like this, no. This is a Bighorn." Obviously so named for those enormous round horns she's eyeing. "I could, but since he's not trained to carry you that way, I'm afraid it would be a rather rough ride," he chuckles. That nose clip dangles from the animal's snout and he doesn't seem to mind in the slightest, though he's not making any move to pull away. "Help you up?" the ex-beastcrafter offers with a browlift as though darning her to decline. "He's a steer," he says as if that would reassure her, "and a big baby to boot. I wouldn't put you on anything dangerous, promise."

"Larabelle," corrects Zap. She's still eyeing the /steer/ mistrustfully. "Can't be that much different than a runner, eh?" she decides at length, approaching the bovine slowly. "Or it might be a lot different. Either way." Roll with the punches, that's Zap's motto!

"Larabelle right," Edani echoes absently. "This is Holder. Holder, Zapallie. Give him a scritch right here," he encourages the young woman, demonstrating where by scratching the animal's forehead. He manner is easy, relaxed. "Holder likes people, just don't tell him that the red bull over yonder is the papa of all the calves here. He thinks they're his." As for riding, when she is ready, he forms a cradle with linked fingers for her to step up on. "Just sit right up near his shoulders." Like riding a runner? "Well, to control him, you won't be using the lead, though you will be holding it. That's just to stop him if he runs amok. It's a safety measure only. Instead you'll use vocal commands."

Zapallie does as instructed, scratching the steer on the forehead. "Mum's the word," she agrees with a wink. And then she sets her boot into his hands and hauls herself up onto his back. "This is weird," she announces, but listens anyway. "Vocal commands? Not your heels?" That's new!

"Nope. This is how they're trained," Edani assures her easily. That lead, connected to the animal's sensitive nose is handed over to her, but he remains at the huge bovine's head, alert and within easy grabbing distance should he need to intervene. "So if he doesn't move left or right when you say, you can give him additional prompting by gentle movement of your hand left or right but you shouldn't need to." He pauses to let her get used to the seat; the creature's back is much higher than a runner's would be. "So to get him started forward it is 'get up'. To go left, say, ''gee', right is 'haw' and 'whoa' is stop." He takes a breath, "Any questions before we start?" He's reading her carefully to discern whether she's nervous. "Whenever you are ready, no rush," he tacks on.

Zapallie is careful not to pull on the rope just yet. She looks down over her knee at Edani, listening as he provides the words she'll need, mouthing each one to herself and then her eyebrows shoot up. "Gee-haw?" she complains. "You're having a joke on me, aren't you? Putting me up here and making me say foolish things." Nervous? Well, not precisely. Just skeptical. Compared to big brown dragons, and runners, this is not so bad.

Edani looks quite serious. At her complaint though, a lop-sided smile pulls at his mouth. "Not at all. Oh - and he pretty much has only one speed, unless it's Clarabelle. Mountain Bovine can gallop as fast as a runner. You’ll get her to run by leaning forward." His eyes travel over the animal, flick over her once and he simply waits for her to be ready. "You'll have a saddle by the time you ride her though." Not so bad indeed. The bovine is placidly chewing his cud, patient enough to wait all day for that signal to move. Nevertheless, Edani adds one more command for her, "If he goes too fast, you can slow him down by saying 'easy'."

"Larabelle," corrects Zap again. "Slow is just fine for today," she remarks easily. "Well then. Ready? Set — get up, Holder." Let's just see how this goes then.

He was only one letter off this time? Holder steps out promptly, more promptly than such a patient stance would suggest, though it's with a plodding gait. His movement lacks the energetic forward motion of a runner; instead it is a swaying, side to side rolling motion that is surprisingly comfortable to sit. Edani walks beside, not lulled from his watchfulness one whit, even though Holder looks sleepy. He knows cattle well enough not to be fooled into complacency. "You're doing great," he encourages Zapallie.

Zapallie holds on with her knees, swaying patiently with the bovine's gait. "I know how to ride a runner," she tells him with a shrug. "Doesn't quite feel the same, but it's not something I can't account for. Quick study and all that."

Edani approves nevertheless. It's not like he gives many of these lessons. Zapallie has chosen a rather unique mount for these parts, after all. He spends some time with her out in the paddock, going over those vocal commands, letting her become accustomed to the enormous beast before he concludes the lesson, sets her up for the dusk feeding for Larabelle and runs for his evening class.