Ancient dunes have been flattened by the endless parade of people and dragons that tramp northwest across the bowl, leaving a mere skiff of sand here along lake's beaten edge. Footprints litter the curve of beach, some left turns ago and caught frozen in the heavy clay earth near the water's edge. As the sun sets, shadows invade, creeping like fingers across the gently sloping ground and darkening the distant ledges on the far side of the lake.
To the north, dust rises from the redolent pens while the flattened disc of the main bowl is just a step to the northwest.
It is an autumn sunrise. The sun breaks through the haze and spills over the horizon, scattering the fog with its red-gold rays. The air is cold, and you can see your breath this morning.
To the north, you see Tiareth.
Darting here and there are thirteen firelizards.
Brown Zenzorath, blue Wiranth, and bronze Soquilith are here.

Cerdith saunters with unselfconscious grace in from the Central Bowl.
Reiko is led in by Cerdith.

Xeth clatters down from above.

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

It's becoming almost a daily occurrence -- Cerdith bounding along the shore to the water's edge, Reiko following behind in a zombie-like state of not-quite-awakeness -- only each day that passes seems a little cooler than the one before. Reiko pulls her jacket more tightly around herself, trusting her feet to remember the way because she just doesn't feel like opening her eyes fully.

Xeth spirals down towards the lake shore from a ledge above, silent in the early-morning light. Her rider doesn't seem particularly awake either, but he's managed to get out of bed, at least. The green lands on the shore, and E'ren slides (or maybe half-falls) to the ground. Peering upward, though, he spots Cerdith and his rider. "Hey Reiko. 'Morning." Of course not a good one... at least not yet.

Cerdith warbles a cheerful, trilling greeting at Xeth, stopping just short of the water's edge. Reiko's relief is nearly palpable as Cerdith stops -- maybe she won't have to actually get in the water after all? -- but the expression she turns to E'ren is more her usual twisted halfsmile, emerald eyes still half-lidded. "Morning," she returns, pleasantly enough, finding a large rock to seat herself on. "I suppose you've come looking for this?" From inside her jacket, she takes the insulated bottle and holds it out to him. Amazing she remembered it.. perhaps she's been carrying it since he left it? "It's only klah from the barracks, though." So who knows if it's any good. But she wasn't about to go traipsing all the way to the caverns half asleep, not with Cerdith wheedling inside her head.

E'ren laughs then, his relief clearly evident in his eyes. "At this time of morning, any klah is good klah," he says lightly, stepping over to her and reaching for the bottle. Even if it's stone-cold, he won't complain. "Cerdith's looking well. Think he's ready for some flying practice over the lake?" Practice there will make mistakes a bit less painful than if they were over the hard ground.

Reiko hands over the bottle, looking up at E'ren sidelong from under one finely arched brow. She's never very particular about the beverage, although she's aware most people are. "Flying practice suits me much better than swimming," she say wryly, mentally checking with Cerdith to see if he agrees. The response isn't overwhelming, but it's definitely positive, and Reiko nods once. "He'd like that, thanks."

E'ren takes the bottle from Reiko, smiling strangely. "Fortunately, Xeth's feeling a lot more awake than I am, so she's looking forward to this too." If E'ren himself had to fly around the Bowl this morning, he'd probably suggest they try again later in the afternoon, after he's had a nap. He opens the bottle and lifts it to his lips, taking a tentative drink. "Mm... good, thank you. It's still quite warm." Even while he's still a bit distracted with waking up, Xeth gives a chipper call, springing into the sky and opening her wings. Lazily, she spins out over the lake, low enough so that the air stirred by her wings sends ripples over the water below.

This scrawny sprig of a dragon is pungently pressed with rosemary's hue to mark her sharp-flavored, sharp-minded: she's a dusky, dusty green from the narrow slope of muzzle back along every slim inch of her sylph's frame. The same silver that showcases tail's every motion lines the underside of full, delicate wings and sparks mischief in her gaze; her dark side hints in the near-black that needles talons and neckridges with prickly, peppery bite.
Drawn across the spice of rosemary hide is the ripe sweetness of tangerine-bronze leather straps, hooked snug with gleaming brass buckles.
Xeth is 15 Turns, 2 months, and 18 days old.
She is 46 feet (15m) long, with a wingspan of 76 feet (25m).
Xeth seems to be listening.

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, but has been staring off into space for 7 minutes.
E'ren is 32 Turns, 10 months, and 2 days old.

Cerdith hesitates only a moment, snaking his neck back to eye Reiko almost questioningly. "I'm fine," she says, her tone almost cross in a sleepy sort of way. "Go ahead. It's very nice of Xeth to offer." With a trilling warblecroon, Cerdith settles back on his haunches, then bursts upward, shimmering wings unfurling to catch and spur him upward, following Xeth's lazy circles with only slightly less finesse. He's been practicing, after all, but there's always more to learn, it seems. Reiko leans back on her hands to watch, but her gaze soon slides sideward to check out E'ren and the bottle. Still no insane giggling... so she begins to relax a bit, and her eyes eventually return to watching Cerdith in the sky. "You're welcome. Xeth is looking well." She did notice, really. It only /looks/ as if she hasn't taken her eyes off her own lifemate.

E'ren sits down beside Reiko and takes another drink from the bottle. "Here... you should have some too. It'll warm you up." He doesn't watch Xeth with the same intensity that he did when they were weyrlings, but he enjoys keeping an eye on the two as they fly. Xeth hangs back and allows Cerdith to catch up before settling beside him in flight, just a little ahead. Dipping a bit lower, she skims just over the lake, almost touching the water with her talons and wingtips on the downstroke.

Vibrant versatility trumpets its fanfare of sapphire and aquamarine to herald this dragon: a wiry grace made flesh with the lithe, efficient lines of a dancer. Brighter blue illuminates the well-formed headknobs: a spotlight for the scherzo of aqua that tumbles the length of his slender neck and back and masques his wedge-shaped head. Turquoise elegance plucks the cobalt that strings his glassy 'sails and echoes darker in the strokes of midnight that chime along graceful spars and talon tips. His starlit tail is no curtain call, however, but an encore that continues life's dance.
Cerdith is 9 months and 12 days old.
He is 34 feet (11m) long, with a wingspan of 56 feet (18m).
Cerdith senses Reiko looking at him.
Cerdith seems to be listening.

Reiko takes the bottle a bit absently and lifts it to drink, her eyes still on Cerdith as the blue corrects his trajectory to match Xeth a little better. As the green drops, so does the blue, although he's not quite confident enough to skim as close to the surface of the lake. "He's really not that much smaller than Xeth anymore," she remarks, sounding almost surprised. Sure, he's got a few meters to go, but wasn't it just yesterday when he was tiny? Mmmm, a warm drink /is/ nice on such a chilly morning. She takes another drink, then caps the bottle, cradling it loosely on her lap.

E'ren spends a moment or two covertly watching Reiko as she drinks. She's so intently watching the dragons' practice, she might not even notice the tiny smile on E'ren's lips. "Er... no, Cerdith's catching up pretty quickly, isn't he? He's pretty agile all ready... I bet he'll be quite successful in greenflights." That's hardly much of a distraction from his thoughts, though. Meanwhile, Xeth drops even lower, letting the tips of her talons trail in the water for a few seconds, then she rises quickly and wheels, turning almost on her wingtip to loop back towards the other side of the lake.

Reiko is only half listening, really... her mind is more with Cerdith, carefully watching for any sign of strain or overwork. But it's just as well she doesn't catch the reference to flights -- the last time her mind wandered off on that trajectory, she had a lot of uncomfortable questions to deal with. Probably at her insistence, Cerdith doesn't exactly follow Xeth's acrobatics, taking a somewhat wider loop and gliding for a moment or two before beginning to beat his wings to catch up. "I don't think he's due to reach his full size for several more months," she muses, inwardly wondering just how big he'll grow.

Xeth repeats the turn a few more times, though perhaps not quite as sharply as the first time. Even if Cerdith can't repeat the move exactly, she'll show it to him in hopes he'll learn. E'ren is mostly focused on Reiko, though Cerdith gets his attention occassionally too. "Probably not, and it's just as well. Less work on straps when he isn't growing as quickly."

Cerdith senses Xeth seems to sparkle a silvered icy-heat. << Do not be afraid to take risks here in practice. Striking the water will not hurt you. Much. >> There's a spike of teasing amusement in her mindvoice as well, but beneath that there's the warmth of interest in the weyrling.

Reiko's cheek twitches, just once, in unconscious reaction to something Cerdith is passing along to her. Of course there's always risk in learning, but being injured is a sure way to end up grounded. She takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly, her eyes fixed firmly on Cerdith as he follows Xeth in yet another turn. This time, a bit tighter, tilting one wing to bank sharply, the lower wing nearly brushing the surface of the water. What were they talking about? "Straps... Oh, yes... his first set still fits--just." She wrinkles her nose slightly, her fingers relaxing on the neck of the bottle, reminding her that she's still holding it. "Did you want any more of this?"

E'ren chuckles a bit. "I think Xeth went through four complete sets of straps as a weyrling. She's so bony though... it was tough just to adjust the old sets and have them still fit correctly." No wonder E'ren didn't have much spare time to make trouble when they were in the barracks. "Oh right... the klah. I'd love another drink," he says with that strange smile again, holding out his hand for the bottle. He doesn't seem concerned at all with the paces Xeth is taking Cerdith through, though. The green goes through a series of climbing spirals and sudden drops, all exquisitely controlled at an even speed.

Reiko hands over the bottle, emerald gaze now rather fixed on Xeth as she imagines the older green as a weyrling. The first sudden drop from climbing spiral makes Reiko's heart practically leap to her throat, but she doesn't try to prevent Cerdith from following. The blue does rather well, actually--the first try is understandably awkward, but he gamely follows for another attempt. And so far, he doesn't seem to be unduly stressed, so Reiko relaxes enough to resume conversation. "He'll likely need a new set soon... maybe I can use that as an excuse not to swim with him?" Since the weather hasn't been an effective deterrent to date.

E'ren takes the bottle and opens it, taking a pull from the still-warm liquid. No, he doesn't roll around on the ground laughing this time, but he does seem like he's got some secret. Ahem. "Xeth sends her compliments. Cerdith's doing very well. Is he getting tired at all? He shouldn't risk a strain." Silently, he urges Xeth to wind it down a bit, so the green resumes a slow, looping spiral, winding her way slowly over the water back towards the near shore. "Just wait until you can go Between," E'ren urges with some amusement. "I bet you'll find swimming in Southern or Ista more pleasant than here in the wintertime."

Reiko shuts her eyes briefly, a soft smile lighting her face at the very thought of swimming someplace warmer. "I'm sure /I/ will," she says wryly, leaning back on her hands and opening her eyes again to check on Cerdith. "He says he's fine," she adds after a pause, "but I wouldn't like him to push it... and thanks." She lets her gaze slide over to E'ren now, carefully appraising. Maybe it was her imagination that there was anything strange about the bottle?

E'ren cradles the bottle in his arms now, holding it like it's something precious to him. If he notices Reiko watching him with undue closeness, he doesn't let on. "We can practice again another day, if you want. Just let us know." Xeth glides with seeming effortlessness into the shore, giving only a couple careful backwings to slow and then land lightly on the sand.

Cerdith glides to shore behind Xeth and a bit beside, a shower of sand spraying up under his talons as he drops to the ground. Maybe he was a little more tired than he let on? Reiko sits forward a bit, concerned eyes on her lifemate for just a moment before her expression clears. "He'll sleep well tonight," she says dryly, a twisted halfsmile curling the corners of her lips. Which means she will as well, and that's a Good Thing. She pushes herself off the rock to her feet, brushing bits of sand off her trousers and turning to face E'ren. One thin eyebrow disappears behind her thick fringe of bangs as she notices the hold he's got on that bottle--a sure sign it's not going home with /her/ today--but she doesn't comment. "Thanks," is all she says. "That'd be nice."

E'ren smiles then, standing also and looking over Xeth for a moment, before giving Cerdith a longer inspecting look. "Make sure he moves around a bit and cools down before his muscles get stiff. Maybe have him stretch out his wings a bit too." He appears a little concerned the blue might've gotten more tired than he thought too, but he won't make a big deal about it. Reiko is given a warm smile. "You're welcome. We enjoyed it, and we'd like to do it again soon, too."

Reiko nods. "I will." She won't have Cerdith injured if she can help it. Giving E'ren a quick smile, she turns to join Cerdith on the beach, one hand reaching out to gently caress his shoulder at the base of his wing. Dipping his head slightly, the blue warbles cheerfully at Xeth as the weyrling pair heads back to the barracks.