==== September 20, 2013
==== Aaron, Bailey, El'ai, Ellen, Sytin
==== What starts out as a simple shooting gallery soon devolves into something much stranger that results in another white knot being handed out!

Who Aaron, Bailey, El'ai, Ellen, Sytin
What What starts out as a simple shooting gallery soon devolves into something much stranger that results in another white knot being handed out!
When There is 1 turn 2 months and 6 days until the 12th pass.
Where Southern Weyr - Feline Territory

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Feline Territory
The heart of the rainforest is more than the weight of so many trees, the impossibly thick fines that fall from the tops of the canopy, nor the jungle floor littered with detritus from the centuries the rainforest has made a home on the Southern Continent. The silence is eerie here, where not even the call of birds filters through the densely packed trees. The presence of something malevolent watching is easily felt here as anything that finds their way into these far reaches of the jungle would feel it necessary to 'run' from whatever it is that hunts these depths. Even Rukbat's light barely filters through, adding shadows and green-filtered light to further trick the eyes. Something deadly hunts here. A small stand of banyan, ficus and sandlewood trees grows here.


The sun's begun to slowly topple to the western side of the sky; not nearly dark yet, but it adds a certain warming amber light that throws shadows sideways across the jungle foliage. In a small clearing, Ellen stands sturdily on her heels, head tipped down and one eye closed to sight down the length of a nocked arrow. Here in the wilds, she's cast ASIDE her 'Weyr-appropriate' garb of long-length poncho with a 'keh' of distaste. Beneath is only a loose embroidered halter - hardly exciting, as she's built less like a girl, less like a boy, and straight into a stocky mannishness with a mess of pouches and new belt knife hung off a cocked hip. Air in (her eye darts amongst low branches) and… air out. Twwip! In the distance is a quiet 'thunk'. And Ellen lowers the bow - "Yow." She whistles, commenting to her commpany, "That got distance. Think th' rock thresh feathers balanced it better'n the yellah'tit."

Aaron hmmmms softly, nodding. "Seems like it. Must be the density of the feathers on the fletching. Let me try one." The Smith picks up his bow from the cart, carved lovingly from yew (or the Pernese equivalent thereof). It's a huge thing, nearly as tall as he is, and the arrow that comes with it is about an Ellen in length. Stepping into a shooting stance, he nocks the arrow and draws the bow back in one smooth movement, and takes a moment to aim. After half a heartbeat of stillness, fingers release the string, and the arrow /flies/ into the distance, a solid thunk coming back through the rain forest. "You're right… Rock thresh it is."

Standing off to the left of Aaron, Sytin is sort of finagling his own bow. It's a medium-length bow with a good, taught string. He gives it a little tug with his two forefingers, letting loose a satisfying twang. Perched atop his head, as seems his usual wont, Zhiros dozes lazily. He even snores a bit, earning an affectionate eyeroll. Still, the Candidate is Super Excited to be out in the jungle, fairly vibrating. Why, he even went to the trouble of convincing El'ai just how cool it would be to go into the jungle and shoot stuff. Well, at stuff. Arrows will fly, at any rate! The bronzerider gets a quick glance, as if the former Smith is nervous that the elder lad will suddenly vanish between. "You ever shot a bow, El'ai?" It's a genuine question, and it's clear that Sytin has not from the way he fumbles, trying to knock the arrow into place. "Uhm, how do I hold this thing again?" Eyes are up at Aaron now.

Oh man. El'ai totally is easily lead into going along. He can't let the little guy get eaten, right? However, El'ai is about as adult-y as Sytin is, and thus when he wanders along, hands behind his back, it's with an air of innocence that's reminiscent of rainbows and pots of gold. Laaaa, la la la. "Me? Shoot a weapon? At what? I don't hurt animals because they are cute and fuzzy and their little eyes just say everything about them so if I'm not shooting animals what am I going to — oh look at that!" Easily distracted, is he. Oh, there's an Aaron. And a little girl-person. The sky is blue and the jungle is dangerous. Wait, wait. "Flower." In another life, El'ai must have surely been fawn colored, spotted, and called Bambi.

"Good eatin', too," Ellen is fierce-grinning at El'ai like she might just take a BITE out of him, "There's ways t'keep the fuzzy parts even after y'flay 'em. I can show you - winter pelts were always a big sell with Hold ladies back when—." Well, back 'when'. Ellen doesn't finish the sentence, but doesn't seem terribly cut up by all of it - well, no more cut up than her rough-hewn PILE OF BOULDER body, idly sweeping her eyes endlessly along the clearing parameters for tell-tale movement. Her massive black canine, Eerie, is lounging at a distance, head lowered into a puddle of his own jowls, lazybones with a twitching attentive nose for danger. To them, this is fairly standard play. She slips (well, shoulders) in alongside Sytin, holding up her own bow — a worn and maintained number, the handle careworn and smooth from use, seed beed decorations in black and red above and below the grip — to give him an idea of how to hold it, "Favor thy better eye." While her eyes are on the other boy, her next gruff-commentary is to Aaron, all trade-talk and gritted-grinning teeth, "I'll be headin' up t'Igen next seven'dee. 'll see how many thresh I can bag while'm up. Their new queen's makin' a mess."

Aaron watches the flight of his arrow, grinning. Oh yes, he's /quite/ happy with his new toy. He goes over to Sytin, chuckling as Ellen gives him instructions too. "Like this, kid," he says, arranging his fingers on the string: index finger, arrow, middle and ring finger, pinky curled to the palm for Sytin to see. "Then just draw it back, and sight down the arrow…" he says, demonstrating the motion, "and release. Don't move your hands, just the fingers. That's the trickiest part." El'ai gets a Look, but a smile comes along with it. "So, you don't eat any of the meat from the kitchens here, then?" he asks, oh-so-innocently. Eyeing the little rider's knot, his grin widens a bit. "Does your dragon munch on flowers and fingerroots instead of herdbeasts and wherries?" Does Aaron have any clue who El'ai is? Nope. At Ellen's offer of help, he grins. "Every bird's worth of flight feathers you bring back is worth a half a mark to me, young lady." Commentary on new Weyrwomen and their messes is kept to himself.

SKID. SKID. RUSTLE. CREAK. Cursing fills the air: rather exquisite cursing, executed in a Benden lilt and fine mellow alto. "YOU MOTHER FUCKING…" is about most PG thing Bailey roars at a particular thing, and then the source of her troubles becomes evident: she emerges from the brush brandishing Aaron's aarrow (haha do you see what happened there) and hair everywhere. Like Medusa, but worse. "THE. FUCK." Funny thing is she's not glaring at Aaron. She's glaring at El'ai.

The former Smith Apprentice tries to suppress a grin at the bronzerider's antics, lips pursing in a feeble attempt not to laugh. A bit of a giggled snort escapes him though. Just a tiny one. Still, Sytin licks his lips and straightens his spine, as if posture might somehow control diaphragm spasms. Ahem. As Ellen slides alongside him he finds himself a new foci and lifts his bow, finally getting the arrow to knock correctly as he watches her and Aaron's demonstration, pulling the bowstring back slowly. He's got a bit of upper body strength, but clearly not as developed as the traders. Talk of Igen is beyond the boy, however, and is duly filtered out of the twelve-turn-old's mind as Not Important. "How do I know where to aim it?" He's looking toward the clearing, trying to take a guess at the shot. "Isn't there like, wind and arc and stuff?" Must be all that algebra. And then suddenly Bailey. Everywhere. Or at least, everywhere that matters. He deflates his stance abruptly, pointing bow and arrow at the ground and no where near pointed directly at the goldrider. Nope. Nuh-uh.

"My food comes packaged straight from Faranth." El'ai's prim voice comes entirely serious. Either he is the most naive bronzerider ever or he's very good at putting one on. He's more inclined to avoid the personal violence, thankyouverymuch, preferring to go and pick the flower he so aptly called out. He does, however, take his duty seriously. "Please do not be getting full of holes, Sytin." Sytin is one of those Candidates and have you SEEN the dragons out there?? The mama is freakish in nature. Then Bailey is there. And his expression lights up like a candle. "Bailey!" What? He did a bad? "Have a flower." Aaron, Sytin, and Ellen are given the sweetest of looks but that rosy hued look of excitement comes for Bailey: "To the girl with the prettiest name in all of Pern." Maybe he still feels bad about that slip up. "He's okay." Presumably, Sytin. "Don't got no holes, boy, right? Right. See? All good." El'ai is a horrible person-keeper.

"Fffweeew," Ellen whistles idly, ducking under her bow and murmuring under her breath with a mild dismay, "Y'got the gold. That's a fair-fucking twenty pointer in dragon darts." Still, rather than engage in antics she's rather pragmatically snagging up her poncho with the toe of a foot and cramming her head up through the center of it like she's burrowing - then, it's all hopping forward with a hand reaching up towards Bailey's head like anonymous kitteny HOOKY-paws, "C'mere, y'got a thing, lady." Small thing. In Bailey's hair. That small thing being… all of it. Let momma Ellen groom you.

As soon as he hears Bailey crunching her way towards them, Aaron lets the tension out of his bow, pointing it down towards the ground, though the length of the arrow prevents him from pointing it straight down. "Good evening, goldrider," he says, respectfully." Yup, that's the ticket. Everyone else is flat-out ignored, though he does nod approvingly as Sytin lowers his bow, too. At El'ai's words, though, a slight, choked chortle escapes him, and he bites the inside of his cheek for a moment. "I, ah, used Cobalt to check the firing lane, ma'am. He said it was clear. Sorry about that."

Bailey was PISSED man. Aaron almost took her FACE off, and she likes her face! It's a nice face! People give her compliments on how typically normal her face is all the time! But apparently her ire is dampened by El'ai, because he's like… the anti-Bailey. And then there is some strange small urchin-person coming to groom her hair and maybe just the whole stress of it causes the goldrider to SIT DOWN, suddenly, as if all the air just fwooshed out of her. She ends up, of course, staring at Aaron, and her deflated expression slowly fades as her eyes NARROW upon his stance and his giant bow and his damn arrows. Her hand may suddenly white-knuckle upon the one she holds. And then comes his apology, and she NARROW-EYES him with all the intensity that only a— "Ow," for Ellen, who snagged something apparently. Aaron: saved by the trader-urchin. She SIGHS and finally, FINALLY takes the flower from El'ai. "What are you doing out here?" And then, oh look, SYTIN is out here, and she's turning the most OURTAGEOUS look upon her brother.

Puzzlement at El'ai's missive to him crosses Sytin's face for a long moment as he tries to compile that mental data. "Uh, no more holes than usual, El'ai." Mouth twists with an air of confusion. Then: "Oh, no! El'ai's doing a fantastic job of escorting me!" See, no holes! Ellen gets a long hard look from the Smith apprentice who is clearly unsure how to handle this grooming ritual. Well, ah, when in Rome? The butt of the bow is rested against the ground and the boy holds the shaft with the tip down, following the vertical line of the shortbow. Mouth opens, then closes, then opens again, hangs and then closes again. Nope, he's got nothing.

The great thing about El'ai is his utter unflappable response to just life. All of this drama comes to one conclusion, "Because he asked?" And just like that, the bronzerider proves himself to be a good mark. "Sekhaenkath didn't want to so we walked." His dragon has more sense. "I think he told Khaly." Maybe. He doesn't keep huge track of his dragon. "We should take them home. Maybe that one too. She seems to like combing and there's that pelt of that girl in the barracks and I swear I think she's got the prettiest hair. I want to know her name." Cerise? Cerise who. Now it's Maosa who's got the hearts throbbing out of El'ai's big blue eyes. "What? You don't think so, what about him?" Aaron gets a chinnod. "He's big enough I think." Oh yeah, Bambi's trying to Search the big smith.

"Ssk," Ellen makes small hissy-click in her teeth, maneuvering to stand behind Bailey, out of sight out of MIND, once the goldrider gives up on life and plops down. Apparently that little noise was all the apology she has for snagging a callous on a tangle. And it manages to somehow imply MAN UP, BAILS without even a word. There is no feminine grace about it; just kind of no-nonsense familiarity. Is she - slowly taming it to try and put in half a french braid? Or at least, that would be her intention. It's sort of absent-mindedly, leaving the other half of the goldrider's crown yet wild and chaotic. It makes a sort of uneven feral aesthetic. Something Bailey does well, doesn't she. Ellen is ending it not with a tie cord but with a few beads she's pulled willy-nilly from her own hair, maybe even a few black and amber-banded feathers winging up and outward. "Mmh?" She glances up at El'ai, grinning a little perplexed (the guy just said a lot) and settles on a husky-girl chuckle, "Heh. I am home, mister."

Aaron watches Bailey sit, and be groomed, with more then a hint of amusement. "I ah, I don't suppose you noticed anyone else while you were heading this way?" he asks as evenly as possible, trying not to laugh as he nods down at his still-nocked arrow. "We're testing different fletchings, is all." Yeah. Not trying to kill anything /or/ anyone! Sytin's mostly-silence is met with an approving nod, and then… He's being maybe-Searched? Turning to El'ai, he shakes his head very carefully. No, no, he's quite happy with the knot I have now, thank you very much.

"Yes." Bailey's voice is a little hysterical. "That's right. I came out here to rescue a candidate. We may as well rescue two. You, halfling," because that evidently is Ellen, "You're a candidate now." She. Doesn't have a choice. Aaron, though. El'ai's suggestion causes her eyebrows to go UP. WAY UP. "I don't… wait are you talking about the wildling?" Her voice is bewildered; totally bewildered. "You like the wildling?" Aaron, sorry dude, y'gotta take back seat for the moment because she is DERAILED. "Aaron," wait, she hasn't forgotten about him, "Did you just hear that." She needs a responsible adult.

"Wait." Pause. "Wait." Another pause and Sytin looks over at Aaron and then back to the bronzerider. "Just waitaminnit." Amber eyes blink in surprise. "Is he?" No, he couldn't be. The former Smith cannot even bring himself to voice the conclusion he's drawing mentally. Nope! Ellen, well, the Trader doesn't exactly give him comedic gold to work with, so his eyes turn toward Aaron in hopes of getting an answer without having to ask the question. Good luck, boyo! Lower lip is gnawed on and then Bailey is declaring Ellen to be a Candidate. Wait. What?! The goldrider's conversation spins about him in dizzying acrobatics and the Candidate finds himself sinking onto a log, just… staring. Yeah, gonna stay outta this one.

"She's so pretty with her eyes and her hair and her everything. I haven't even gotten a chance to talk to her, but I just know that I love her and would love to share my first kiss with her." El'ai is apparently not afraid to just announce his business to the world. A spritely look is given to Aaron and Sytin, a smug one to Ellen, but an expectant one to Bailey: "You'll introduce me now, right?" He pauses. Side-glances at Ellen, and then back to Bailey. El'ai's smile is beautimous. "I'll take this girl-thing to the barracks." Because that is not creepy at all. His fluttery lashes blink ever-so-innocently. "She'll like me. I just know it." If he was in a disney movie, horrible music would be telling him to pucker up and kiss the girl. Too bad she's jaws and she'll rip his lips off. But hey, who can say NO to them EYES, and those lips that WOBBLE and the brows that look so WOE-BEGONE? But see then the girl-thing is TALKING to him. El'ai all but BEAMS at Ellen. "See? She's already home. BAILEY I JUST KNOW WE SHOULD KEEP HER FOR OUR CLUTCH BECAUSE SHE WOULD BE AWESOME AND I WILL TOTALLY TAKE HER TO THE BARRACKS." In a loud rush.

Burrowed deep into Bailey's fiery hair, Ellen's fingers grow still. Head tipped down her her work, however, her smile remains, if slightly harder. For a very long moment, she's notably silent, freeing her hands to slowly brush them together. "Y'know y'can't kiss candidates, mister," is, instead, all she comments of El'ai's long burst. And then she disregards either rider to grunt at Sytin, "Guess we're gonna be spendin' more time, heh, boy?" All the rest of the conversation? NOPE. Ellen keeps her council like a STONE. She jerks an absent chin at Aaron, "Y'see my hound gets'to the Herders a'right?"

Bailey eyes Sytin. And Aaron. And.. she just kind of helplessly stares at El'ai. "I don't.. what.. I mean… you… what…" WHAT IS THIS SHE DOESN'T EVEN. "You," a little weakly, then, "You do that." Take the girlthing back to the barracks, presumably. She doesn't even have the energy to yell at Sytin right now. "I just. I…" She blows all of her breath out, slowly, as if trying to recover from El'ai's energetic WALL OF CAPS that equates through so well to his actions. "I need a drink." She slumps. She probably doesn't even notice Ellen is still back there fiddling with her hair.

Aaron has been busy unstringing his bow, and setting it and the arrow back into the cart where it goes. Yup, staying out of this conversation of candi girls. At Bailey's mention of booze, though, there's suddenly a flask in his hand, being offered to the goldrider. "Ask and ye shall receive," he says with a smile. So long as you don't mind mango-rum stuff. "Sytin, go ahead and unstring your bow. I think we're done for the day," he says, eyes casting up at the sky and ALL THE PRETTY COLORS the sunset makes. "Congratulations, Ellen." El'ai? Aaron doesn't even know what to make of the kid.

All Sytin got out of El'ai's rousing declaration was how someone is pretty, oh so pretty, so pretty and witty and bright. And kisses. Ew. Then like woah. The tumble of words even has Sytin rocking back from his perch as a bump on a log. Ellen. The trader's conversational hook gives the Candidate a nice out to that awkwardness. "Well, I hope you like math. And running." Lots and lots of running. Now Bailey, well, the poor Apprentice has been down that road before and knows where it leads. To a summary execution by a certain stout giant, that's what! Then said giant is doling out instructions and the boy complies dutifully, though his fingers have a bit of trouble with this newfangled task. Still, he's being dutiful! Please don't smite, enchant, enslave or otherwise torture!

"I can do whatever I want." El'ai's position on this is firm, and well, wrong, but. He doesn't care! He's in loooooove! "Okay, come on girl thing, we're gonna get you a knot and everything and just like don't say anything okay." To Ellen? To the whole glen? Whatever. He waves, imperially, and starts hop, skipping, and jumping back towards the weyr. Nevermind that he's forgotten his Candidate … both his Candidates. That's for Bailey to clean up. The boy's on a mission and his player is going to eat someone if delicious tacos aren't had POST HASTE. A parting, final thought: "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD…" and then, softer, "… but maybe after a bath."

It's probable they don't have zippers on Pern, but Ellen performs a benevolent key-in-lock rotation at the corner of her mouth at El'ai's instruction. Still thin smiling behind her hard world-weary gaze. She actually was moving obediently to fall in behind him when told to come along, seeming willing enough to respond to 'girl-thing' except then HE LEAVES HER. Mouth OPEN? Then her mouth… closes again, and she scratches behind an ear, "Uh," well hey, Aaron said a thing to her, so she flashes her little lizard teeth at him, "Thanks, huh? Hm. Not sure that's even a… —" but BAH, she waves a hand and slings AN ARM around the back of Sytin's neck (or tries to, absently), "I run like a mad bastard, son." Said like she's going to run off WITH him like shoplifted goods. Five-fingered Candidate discount.

Bailey probably should facepalm at El'ai's antics, but. She's. Used to it? That is to say, she's probably responsible for some of that, as… she may have raised him after a certain age. Ish. Ish. "Come on," she clambers to her feet without any idea of what her hair looks like (she's preoccupied), "…children. To the weyr." Or to Khalyssrielth, who waits (impatient) just outside the thicket. To the lunatic high of her lifemate, and then ONWARDS and UPWARDS or .. whatever. To Southern they go!

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