Practice Makes Perfect

Training Grounds
The marks of thousands of claws give testament to the shuffling of the young dragons that have torn up what little grass once grew in this corner of the bowl. Tucked in between the feeding pens to the south and the curve of the Weyrleader's complex, the training grounds are home to daily exercises and classes, all taking place well out of the way of the hectic bustle of the rest of the bowl. Cut deep into the cliff face, the large, covered openings leading into the extensive weyrling barracks rise high over the heads of any who come near, although the height of the caldera's spindles far above cast their own reaching shadows across the hard packed earth.
It is an autumn sunrise. The eastern sky is afire with brilliant colors, the sun lighting the clouds in pinks and oranges. The cool breeze begins to warm up as the sun bathes you in its rays.
To the north, you see Kearneth, Yajisarath, and Nezdarvyth.
Soaring high overhead are Ghede, Selig, and Kamoku.
Green Niamhyth and brown Druseth are here.

Above, Xeth glides in from the central bowl.

Above, Xeth drops towards the ground.

Xeth glides in from above.

Cerdith heads out from the Weyrling Barracks.

E'ren slithers down Xeth's narrow shoulder, borne by the flash and fall of her hide's silvered sparks.

Jet black hair falls shiny and straight just to her chin, a fringe of shorter hair in front just brushing delicate brows. Her skin is creamy-pale, with just a faint blush on high cheekbones and full lips. Wide-set emerald eyes are tipped up slightly at the outside corners and framed with thick black lashes, giving her a vaguely feline appearance. Neither overly tall nor overly short, Reiko stands straight-shouldered with quiet confidence and moves with an easy, quiet grace.
It's a uniform. Royal blue shirt, just a bit too big and left open at the throat, neatly tucked into black trousers that almost fit... being just a /little/ too snug. Worn black boots cover her legs to mid-calf, trouser legs stuffed inside so as not to drag on the ground until she has time to hem them.
Reiko is 20 Turns, 5 months, and 9 days old.

Quick in movement and startling in intensity of mood, this greenrider meets a gaze with a sudden smile and flash of Thread-gray eyes hooded under dark lashes. His inky-black hair, just beginning to glint with silver, has been grown out into a mop of unruly curls, a few artfully arranged to fall over his brow. Turns of dragonriding have honed his compact form, though, especially along muscled thighs and narrow hips. His complexion is dark, his features matching a native Southerner's. Squarish jaw matching the set of his shoulders, his wirey frame is spare, notable more for gesture than stature, though he occasionally creates the illusion that the opposite is so, due to his unapologetic flair for the dramatic.
The wear on his mahogany leathers is just beginning to affect the color in spots, but otherwise the leathers are still well-fitted and sharp. The cuffs and collar are a lighter, matching shade, and the trim edging waist and sleeves suggests milky klah. Beneath the leather of his jacket is a soft heaven-blue tunic, warm and wooly, seeming almost to beg to be touched. The tunic's laces are open a bit on the collar, and amid them a silver chain is half-hidden, the warm metal kept always against his skin. His sleek boots are well-broken-in but also well-maintained, polished to a near-mirror finish. Perched on E'ren's shoulder is Abacab.
His knot is a double twisted cord, one strand blue and one black, threaded with a dusty green ribbon matching Xeth's matte hide. The knot and his flit-gnawed badge mark him as a rider of Inferno wing.
He is awake and looks alert.
E'ren is 32 Turns, 9 months, and 6 days old.

Xeth spirals down and lands on the training grounds, her wingstrokes a bit lazier than usual, perhaps because of the early-morning hour. Her rider, too, seems affected, as he slides down her shoulder to the ground, though the bump of his boots in the Bowl's dust does a bit to jar him awake. Poor E'ren... what could've brought him out here at such an early hour?

Cerdith gives Reiko another nudge, his muzzle catching her soundly on the backs of her knees to speed her step, but gently enough as not to send her sprawling. Practice. "At least let me wake up," she sulks, rubbing sleep out of her eyes. She barely notices the faint breeze of dragonwings or the sound of boots hitting the ground, but she does notice when Cerdith abruptly stops shoving at her, lifting his head to warble a cheerful greeting. "Who..." And then she opens her eyes fully. "Oh! Morning." She looks over E'ren, noticing that he looks no more awake than she does.. although the twisted halfsmile that curls her lips might indicate that she does approve of those leathers. "You're out early." She's not going to guess why.

E'ren mmphs softly and nods. "Morning." No comment about whether it's 'good' or not, though. "I came to watch you practice and see if you needed help. Here--" He holds out an insulated bottle... the same one he brought her the iced klah in before. "It's hot this time." Xeth just yawns lazily, her eyelids threatening to droop closed one by one... apparently she isn't a 'morning person' either.

Mneoth heads out from the Weyrling Barracks.
Khena is led in by Mneoth.

"Guess you'll just have to do without the rain today, Mneo," Khena mutters as they come out of the barracks, her eyes fixed on the brightening sky.

Reiko hesitates only a moment before accepting the bottle. "Thanks." She notices Khena only because she speaks, glancing over at the former guard and her lifemate with a polite nod before turning her attention to the bottle. It takes a couple tries to get it open with uncooperating fingers, but she manages, inhaling the steam cautiously before taking a sip. Yes, this was much needed--but almost immediately she opens her eyes to regard E'ren sidelong. He's not going to act crazy again, is he?

Ford Prefect makes a sudden appearance.

E'ren doesn't act crazy! Well, there was the incident with the bottle last time, but that was only after a couple of events had occurred... and those haven't happened yet. The greenrider seems perfectly calm and normal, if a bit sleepy. "So, out here for drills? Have the dragons gotten airborne yet? Cerdith's looking big enough to carry off a wherry now." He smiles affectionately at the blue. Then he spots movement from the barracks and sees Khena come out: he gives a wave... perhaps looking a bit more chipper than he feels.

"I /know/ you like the rain, Mneoth," Khena says, suddenly noticing other people here and gives the two a nod, then turns to the brown again, "but I cannot /make/ it rain..." Eyes turn back on E'ren, giving him a slight nod to his question about drills, her mind telling Mneoth to get on with his exercise at the same time, the brown stretching his wings wide. "No flying yet," she says, shrugging, "though Mneoth tells me he's more than ready."

Reiko smiles in spite of herself at the compliment to her lifemate, turning fond eyes look for herself. "He is getting big," she admits, "but no, he hasn't tried flying." Capping the bottle and looping the strap around her wrist, she turns back to E'ren with a little smirk. "He'd rather swim, even though Ilare /said/ the drills are better for him." This would be why there's no sign of his straps, since Cerdith basically shoved Reiko outside as soon as she had her eyes open. The blue does manage to look a little disappointed, dipping his head slightly with a rustle of his wings.

E'ren chuckles a bit. "Well I'm sure there will be plenty of time for swimming after practice. You should use that as an incentive to get him through the drills... provided he can keep in mind two things at once, I suppose," he adds ruefully. Faranth knows Xeth has trouble some days with just remembering what they're doing /then/, much less planning for what they'll do later. He casts a grin at Khena and her lifemate. "Mneoth is looking awfully handsome too. When are you all due to hit the skies?"

Mneoth suddenly rears up on his hindlegs, wings outstretched to keep his balance, while Khena watches him with pride shining very obviously in her eyes, a smile spreading on her lips at E'ren's comment. Yeah, Mneoth was certainly the most handsome dragon in the clutch if you asked her. "I don't think it'll be too long now, E'ren," she says, eyes still trained on the brown as he drops his forequarters to the ground again. "But I don't know exactly /when/.." she continues, her voice sounding slightly impatient.

Reiko makes a face. Truth be told, she'd rather not swim at all, but she doesn't often get a choice. "I'll keep that in mind," she says mildly, giving Cerdith a mental nudge in the direction of the grounds. The blue makes a halfhearted noise of protest but complies, starlit tail snaking behind him as he stretches one wing skyward in half-remembered imitation of Chanticoth.. who would likely /not/ be impressed. Reiko gives a lazy shrug in response to E'ren's question, then leans against the outside wall of the barracks to watch Cerdith, opening the bottle for another warming sip. "Soon, I think. It's next on the list, after ground formations." Which they've done. "That's without riders, though. But at least he'll be able to hunt." Each feeding requires greater quantities of meat to be cut up -- even Reiko is getting tired of it.

E'ren laughs then. "Well, flying never comes quickly enough when you're a weyrling. It seems like that's the thing everyone most wants to do from the day of the Hatching. The thing that's most important is for your lifemates to be strong and confident enough to fly and land without getting hurt." Yeah yeah, all that usual boring safety stuff. Reiko's mention of hunting makes him pale slightly--watching Xeth kill is probably the thing in his life he looks forward to the least. "Formations... oh right. Should be interesting." Generally he hates formation drills too, but they're 'fun' when compared with hunting.

Hunting. Something Khena was definately waiting for Mneoth to be able to do by himself. And the flying, of course. Even if it was without her to begin with, she was waiting for that as well. Eyes glaze over for a moment as she communicates with her lifemate, the smile on her face getting broader still, "Mneoth says he's ready to fly and he'll have no trouble landing either," she informs the others. Down he'd come, one way or the other, that's for sure.

Reiko has apparently grown accustomed to paying attention to things that sound like lessons, because E'ren has her full attention by the time he's finished his first sentence. So she does notice the change in his expression when she mentions hunting. Maybe he'd prefer being up to his elbows in carcasses, cutting up Xeth's meals for her? An almost amused smirk is the only outward sign of /that/ train of thought -- she'd prefer not to alienate the greenrider when he's actually being helpful. Cerdith stops his 'dancing' to fix one whirling eye on Reiko then, and after a pause she adds, "Cerdith thinks he's ready as well." Any doubt in her voice is quickly covered by a twisted smile. "At least he's confident." Whether he's correct can be decided by an AWLM. Reiko's easy that way.

Ford Prefect seems to be abruptly gone.

E'ren smiles and nods, looking over Mneoth appraisingly. "Perhaps, but I'm sure many of the greens in your clutch could benefit from having a couple more sevendays to grow, at least. And sometimes bronzes grow so quickly, it takes time for their muscles to catch up." He's not being specific here, just talking in general terms. He casts a smile in Cerdith's direction as well. "You're right... both of them are looking quite strong and well-balanced. If it were up to me, I might put them in the sky today, but I'm not, so it's better to wait."

Khena fairly beams with pride, an expression not often seen on her face before she Impressed Mneoth, but not so strange now. "He's definately got the confidence for it," she notes, observing the brown as he moves his wings up and down slowly exercising the muscles attaching them to his back. "Anyway, I guess we'll just have to wait for the weyrlingmasters' okay," she says, a small sigh escaping her lips. "So, E'ren... What've you been doing lately?" Change of subject. Always good when impatience was getting a hold of her. "Been a long time since I've seen you?"

Cerdith has evidently been listening, because he seems excessively pleased by E'ren's assessment. Both wings unfurl as he pushes back on his haunches, the better to display his strong and well-balanced physique. Reiko nearly chokes on the klah she's sipping, hastily covering her mouth with one hand and sending a silent, soothing apology to her lifemate. She hadn't meant to laugh. Honestly. He's the most beautiful dragon on Pern! She just hadn't been expecting such a ... display. So Khena's change of subject is a welcome one, even though it hasn't been such a long time for her. Quickly regaining her composure, Reiko settles back to pay attention to the conversation, and Cerdith continues his stretching exercises with a bit less fanfare and just a little more diligence.

E'ren arches a brow, a little surprised the discussion has turned to something more personal. "Well, nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual sweeps... occassion drills... a meeting or two." Certainly nothing interesting as far as his personal life goes. "But I'm sure your daily 'adventures' are more interesting than mine. How have lessons been going? Any good gossip drifting through the barracks?" With everyone living in such close quarters, it's almost impossible to get away with keeping secrets.

Khena grins crookedly as E'ren smoothly turns the subject back on the weyrlings. A glance is turned on Reiko, winking, then back on E'ren. "You know full well, E'ren, that weyrlings can't have relationships," she says, sounding as serious as a weyrlingmaster. "Other than that, lessons have been going fine." At least for her and Mneoth. She couldn't exactly speak for others. Especially some of the greenriders in the group.

Reiko is only half listening now, her attention more fully on Cerdith as she watches him perform his exercises, alert for any sign of strain or overwork. Which means she misses Khena's wink, and any significance that might be attached to the brownrider's statement. "I don't gossip," she remarks mildly, capping the bottle again and letting it dangle from the strap around her wrist. She doesn't listen much when others do, either, so there are no secrets to be had from Reiko. One shoulder rolls in a little shrug as she adds, "The lessons are fine." Her days don't feel much like adventures, only work.

E'ren beams innocently about Khena. "Who said anything about 'relationships'? Not like the rules always prevent people from doing things they want to do, though." Inexplicably, he grins over at Reiko and winks. Reiko knows all the secrets, it seems? "Besides, there's more to gossip about than love and sex. You know... dragons asking questions at the wrong time, embarrassing the weyrlingmaster, that sort of thing." A pause. "How has Kh'ryn been doing? I haven't seen so much as a tailtip of Zylpheth lately."

Just as Khena is moving over toward Mneoth, who seem to have had enough of exercising, curling his tail around his body and resting his head on his forearms, E'ren starts speaking of Kh'ryn. Looking over her shoulder, she lifts an eyebrow, grinning at the greenrider, then turns back to her lifemate. "I'm sure Khor's doing fine. And Zylph as well," she says, rubbing Mneoth's eyeridges as she speaks.

Reiko eyes E'ren sidelong as he goes on about rules and relationships, but gives no outward reaction to his wink. As he mentions Kh'ryn, however, her expression grows thoughtful. "I don't see him often." Which is quite true, though not entirely pertinent, since she did in fact see the bluerider quite recently. But she just finished saying she doesn't gossip, so she's not about to make a liar of herself. Fortunately for her, Cerdith takes that moment to utter a trilling warble, launching himself off the ground in imitation of Chanticoth's /leap/! Reiko sends a silent warning, and the blue wings don't actually unfurl--although Cerdith had clearly been tempted.

E'ren gives a musing smile. "Well... I didn't exactly think anything was going wrong with him. I think I would've heard if something bad had happened. I guess I was just hoping for some news that was more... personal?" If he's asking for gossip now, it's gossip of the most warm-hearted kind. Cerdith's little leaping stunt catches his attention then, though. "Jays... he does have an awful lot of energy, doesn't he? He'd do better to pour that into strengthening his wings, rather than leaping around that might get us all in trouble." For the moment, his voice sounds more worried and concerned than scolding.

Khena watches Cerdith's leap, her hand pressing down harder on Mneoth's eyeridge to prevent the brown from following suit. "Don't you /dare/," she mutters under her breath to her lifemate, then gives E'ren a shrug, "can't say as I've spent much time with him lately..." Not with Mneoth demanding most of her attention. The poor weyrling hadn't even been in the Living Caverns since Hatching day, even if they were allowed to do so now. "I'd think Khor is as busy with Zylph as I am with Mneoth," she adds, giving the greenrider a sympathetic grin.

Any thought of gossip has fled from Reiko's mind completely by this point, and dismay is evident on her face as she silently orders Cerdith to please /stop/ exercising now and rest. "He picked it up from Chanticoth," she says, schooling her voice to a tone that's less frazzled than she feels by several degrees but still not as dispassionate as she'd like. "Ilare said it strengthens the muscles he'll need for takeoff." Cerdith just doesn't have a lot of self-control--just one more way he throws Reiko for a loop. He doesn't disobey her now, but he doesn't look too happy as he slinks back over near his lifemate and settles down beside her with a faint huff.

E'ren hums soft agreement to Khena, though there's doubt visible in his eyes. Surely there's something he's thinking that he isn't saying. Cerdith provides a welcome distraction, though. "Play and activity are important, but as big as he is, it wouldn't take much to put him in the air, I'd think. He'd hardly have to open his wings before pure instinct would take over." He smiles a bit at the blue's pouting. "It's better for him to be doing something than be bored. That's when dragons /really/ get into trouble."

Khena nods slowly at Reiko, herself determined to keep Mneoth as far away from Chanticoth as possible in the future. "Mneoth spent some time with Chanticoth too," she mutters, sounding rather displeased with the fact that her dragon had been tought the Chanti-dance. "Never even /told/ me, until he started doing /that/, one day." Her head indicates Cerdith's antics, then turns to Mneoth, making sure he's not about to do the same, the brown simply watching the blue at this time. Good draggie.

The color seems to drain from Reiko's face. "What sort of trouble?" she asks suspiciously, glancing quickly at Cerdith--who certainly doesn't seem to be in any trouble just at the moment. And he /is/ getting really big. If he hadn't obeyed her and kept his wings from opening, they might /both/ be in a lot of trouble. Or is that what E'ren meant? The starlit tail gives an impatient flick, and Cerdith extends his neck fully, his chin digging a little path in the dust as he lids his eyes.

E'ren laughs then. "You know... trouble. Cornering drudges. Poking into traders' wagons. Sneaking into the living caverns." Though truthfully, they're getting a little big for that. "Don't tell me you've kept such a tight rein on your lifemate that he's never had the chance to surprise you with something like that?" he asks, surprised and just a little teasing.

Khena looks thoughtfully at E'ren, her head tilting forward a bit so that her eyes are hooded by brows. "Mneoth doesn't /get/ in trouble," she states, quite firmly. Both dragon and rider are too responsible to do things not allowed. The fact that Chanticoth had tricked her lifemate into doing the 'dance' didn't factor into the equation.

Cerdith might. Reiko gives her lifemate a long look. "If he has, I don't know about it," she admits. Nothing to do with a tight rein at all. Reiko generally needs to have things pointed out to her to notice them. But she does look a little relieved at E'ren's definition of trouble -- none of those options sounds all that awful to her. Except maybe sneaking into the living caverns. Cerdith could probably still get in at least to his shoulders.

E'ren chuckles at Khena, shaking his head. "Just wait until he starts chasing in flights. I'm sure whenever you end up in the bed of a greenrider... or maybe even a goldrider... you'll wish he spent his time poking his nose where it doesn't belong." Of course he's teasing. His smile turns more wry at Reiko's comment. "If it were serious, I'm sure you would've heard. He's probably just waiting until you least expect it to spring it on you." Ha ha.

Khena blinks slowly at E'ren's first comment. Mating flights hadn't exactly occured to her yet. Even if she'd seen plenty of those things in her time as a weyrguard, she now had a lifemate of her own to deal with in those situations. "Yeahhh," she simply says, not knowing what else to say at the moment, and just keeps on rubbing Mneoth's eyeridges. "Don't worry about it," she mumbles to the brown, shaking her head. At least not yet..

Reiko smirks lightly at E'ren's comment, being quite sure she'll have no such regrets when Cerdith starts chasing. The blue lifts his head then, eyeing his lifemate curiously, and her expression softens for a moment to something almost rueful before clearing. So she addresses the second statement instead. "You're likely right. It won't be the first time he's surprised me." A light warble from Cerdith draws her attention again. "No, really," she says aloud, her tone reassuring. Then, "How about that swim?" Way to change the subject--but it works, and Cerdith gets to his feet looking much happier. "See you later." And she makes her escape, evidently finding even a cold swim preferable to continuing a conversation which might have interested her but for persistent difficult questions ringing in her head.

E'ren just looks at Mneoth and smiles wryly. "Yeah, no need to worry. I'm sure you'll sort it out when it becomes relevent." He is always curious to watch first flights and how the dragon and newly graduated riders react. He arches a brow in Reiko's direction as she excuses herself... "Hey Reiko, just remember to bring back that bottle when you're finished, all right? I'm rather attached to it...." There seems to be a little joke hidden in there somewhere, but it might not be clear what it is.

Mneoth rumbles, a baritone coming from deep down his throat, as he notices E'ren watching him. No need to worry was right. He'd do just fine in a mating flight. Khena, on the other hand lift an eyebrow as she tries to discern what was going on between the greenrider and blueling. None of her business really, just curious is all. "See ya, Reiko," she says, lifting a hand to wave at the fellow weyrling as she leaves.

Reiko is halfway to the Bowl, Cerdith bounding ahead of her, when E'ren's call reaches her ears. Oh, the bottle. She'd nearly forgotten she was still holding it. "Sure," she calls back, without worrying too much about why he's asking. It's a perfectly nice bottle, insulated and all. Maybe it cost him a few marks. She gives the two a quick wave, then heads off to catch up with her lifemate, actually breaking into a jog to keep up. Will wonders never cease?

Kamoku> Cerdith heads west towards the Northern curve of the bowl.
Kamoku> Cerdith leads Reiko out.

Kamoku> E'ren chuckles again and shakes his head. "That wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I brought her something to drink," he admits softly to himself, and Xeth rumbles. The greenrider turns to look at his lifemate, and there is no doubt some silent exchange. "Jays, I know. That only makes it worse, doesn't it?" Ahem... but there's someone eavesdropping, isn't there? "Ah... Khena. It was lovely to talk with you again, but I think Xeth and I are due on sweeps soon. Feel free to have Mneoth bespeak Xeth if you need anything, though, all right?"

Kamoku> Khena nods, giving E'ren a slight smile, her hand /still/ idly rubbing the brown's eyeridge. "It was good to see you too, E'ren," she says, glancing down at Mneoth who seems half asleep again. "I'll tell Khor 'hi' from you," she adds, giving the greenrider a wink and a grin.

Kamoku> E'ren gives the weyrling a grateful smile. "Thanks, I'd appreciate it." He waves then, and turns to Xeth to mount.

Kamoku> E'ren scampers up Xeth's forelimb in a shower of silvered sparks and is assisted into place between two neckridges.

Kamoku> Xeth coils and then bursts upwards into flight.

Kamoku> Above, Xeth bursts up from the bowl below.

Kamoku> Above, Xeth vanishes ::between::, a distant splash of green heat-lightning.