==== January 30th, 2014
==== Kultir, T'ral
==== Jungle 101 is in session. Kultir and T'ral find something odd at a crossing of the Black Rock River.

Who Kultir, T'ral
What Jungle 101 is in session. Kultir and T'ral find something odd at a crossing of the Black Rock River.
When There are 0 turns, 1 month and 0 days until the 12th pass.
Where Southern Weyr

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upper_black_rock_river.jpg

Upper Black Rock River
As the ocean flows inland, the Black Rock River is formed; a jade jewel further enhanced by the towering cliffs that serve as the gateway into the deeper river wilds. Hints of grey stone peek from beneath a covering of verdant greenery as lichen, moss, vinery, and small, clinging plants weave together to become a covering for the the stone beneath. Here, the waterway narrows, forming the first of the winding river as it snakes its way deeper into the heart of Southern, carrying the occasional vessel of trade goods.


Kultir leads the way along the narrow path that follows the edge of the river as they travel further from the safety of the Weyr. Glancing back at his companion once in a while, he nods and returns his attention to the path before him. "Doing okay back there, T'ral?" he calls, his voice just loud enough to be heard above the flow of the river a short distance below and to the side of them.

Yup. Yup. Stinging from a half-hundred cuts, "Yup," T'ral calls forward to Kultir. His new machete had barely been used. Kultir was of the 'it takes more time to hack through the brush than to just move through it school.' T'ral had imagined carving heroically through the lush jungle and blazing a trail. No. None of that. They'd gone miles only cutting if one of them got snared. And 'one of them' meant 'T'ral.' The blades of many of those jungle plants were sharp and laid shallow scratches on his hide. Nicks. Punctures. T'ral's breathing easily, sweating easily -stinging those cuts- and moving easily behind Kultir, but… it's just not what he thought it would be. He adjusts the pack on his shoulders and keeps trudging along behind the tracker. "Any of your avian traps along here?"

Stooping to move under a low hanging branch, Kultir turns to grin back at the bluerider. "Naw, not around here. Mustelid traps in the winter moons but not right now. Avian snares are closer to the cove." He turns to look back the direction they are going and chuckles. "Got a tunnelsnake den up here if you're interested … the riverdwelling kind." The young tracker takes a bit of pleasure in the way most people who've asked him to show them how to move through the jungle act when they find out they aren't going to be hacking wide tracks through the undergrowth. He keeps them moving at a fairly steady pace till they reach a spot where the rocky path drops below the level they are at now and is almost on a level with the bank of the river.

"Tunnelsnakes?" T'ral ducks under that same branch. "They're clutching now, right? Ah. NO." He flaps hands at Kultir, "How are you not cut to ribbons?!" He looks at his forearms rolling them and shaking his head. "What am I doing wrong?" He hisses as another shimmying blade slides along his hand. T'ral growls at the plant and turns his attention to navigating the flattening path.

Stopping where the path levels out into a small clearing nearly on a level with the river, Kultir laughs softly and nods. "Yes, they are. Which is why I'll be putting snares out in a few sevendays. Best time to catch them is when they are hatching. They aren't big, but they make nice hides before they get all scarred up by fighting off predators." Glancing at the cuts speckling the bluerider's arms, he shrugs slightly and pulls up his sleeve to show the white lines of scars on his own forearms. "I got tough hide. You're still trying to push the leaves and branches away …" He steps toward the leaf that just slid along his partner's hand and pushes at it. The edge bites into the callous of his palm but the thickness of that callous keeps it from cutting deeply enough to bleed. "You want to brush it aside …" He demonstrates with the more tender back of his hand, coming up under the leaf and lifting as he moves it behind himself and then steps back to show first the cut on his palm and then the unmarked back of his hand. "You'll learn but it's not going to happen in the first few times you come out with me."

At the thin white scars on Kultir's arms, T'ral's eyebrows go up and he utters a quiet, lip-pursed, "Oh." So. All was as expected. He copies Kultir's lifting motion and scrunches his face. "I think I got it." He looks off towards the river, up at the sky. He lifs the leather canteen at his hip, sloshing it speculatively, Still pretty full, and tips it at Kultir, an offer. Want any? "Hey, those hides were just the thing. Thanks." T'ral takes his own pull from the canteen and settles it at his hip opposite a shiny new machete. T'ral puts a hand on the handle, the sheath is so new it squeaks. "All right. I've got bleeding and sweating down. What's next?"

Kultir chuckles softly as T'ral realizes he isn't the only one to get sliced up by the jungle foliage. Shaking his head at the offer of water, he looks up the trail and then down at the river and gnaws his lower lip for a moment as he considers just where they should cross. Eyes go back to the bluerider, he nods. "Good. Glad that they worked for you. I've got a few caprine and porcine hides that I could cure for whatever you need them for if you need something a bit stronger, you know." Laughing at the other man's comment, he shakes his head slightly. "Well, how about getting wet? It'll cool you off too if you manage to slip and fall in." He raises a challenging eyebrow at his companion and jerks his head as he continues moving up the path once more.

"Naw. I got what I needed. Was part of a trade for this," he pats the machete in its sheath, "Thanks, though. You sure I can't pay you? I bet there's something down at the 'walk you've got your eye on. For Kalea… Mailli makes pretty things." T'ral grins. He'd asked after Kalea and the twins earlier, because -family- you check up on them. T'ral waves a hand at Kultir, "Yeah. It's hot, but I don't want to slog back to the Weyr all wet." He tramps along behind Kultir, trying to lift past the vegetation rather than push past it. Vast improvement. But he's much slower.

"Ahh, good." Kultir glances behind him in time to see the pat on the machete and grins. "Sorry it's not getting much use. I find it's a bit faster to get through the jungle if you only hack at it when it's really necessary." His own jungle knife is strapped between the pack on his back and the back of his tunic so that only the hilt is visible peeking out above his shoulder. Turning back to the path, he considers the man's offer and shrugs. "I've been saving the marks I get for my hides for a weaver to make a small tapestry for her. Something she can hang in her weyr. I don't know … that might be too ambitious since I don't describe things too good." Tramping up the gentle incline for a while, he laughs softly and nods. "I can understand that, but if you fall in, unless you brought a change of clothes … that's the only choice you've got. Don't think Esanth can land where we're going. Should be about half a mile ahead." His sharp eyes, and ears, keep a watch out for the few dangers that might sneak up on them but he's not seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary just yet.

T'ral grunts at the machete not getting use. The barter had brought the price down to something really quite affordable, "I'm more concerned that I won't know how to use it when I need to." There was supposed to be more slashy-slashy and less bleedy-bleedy. Oh well. With any luck, he wouldn't have any need of it. "Aha," T'ral says, tramping along behind Kultir, "That I can help you with. Describing things." He taps his chest, "It's what I do." He cocks his head as he ducks under a branch, correcting, "Did. Just let me know, I'll help you write up whatever you like." He snorts, "Only underclothes. After the scare you gave me last time, it seemed wise." Is he joking? Maybe. "You might be surprised where Esanth can land." T'ral keeps his own eyes and ears out, he's not used to seeing things from below like this and he is overlaying what he knows about how this area looks from above onto what he can see about them. He looks out over the river, squinting. "Crossing's not far ahead, eh?"

Kultir grins and nods slightly. "I can show you how to use it if you like. Let's just get to the crossing, there should be some lianas and undergrowth for you to hack on." The young tracker ponders that new offer and sighs softly. "Well … I might take you up on it. I can see it in my head but I can't seem to get it down on the hide to describe it." He laughs softly, remembering the scare the man had had the last time and glances back at the bluerider, his amber eyes sparkling with humor. "There was no reason for you to be scared … there was absolutely no danger to either of us." Trudging to the top of the small rise and looking down to where the path disappears into undergrowth once more, he nods. "Yeah … just down there. There's a shallow curve where the river widens a little but it's shallow there. The current is pretty swift but it's only about knee height … not more than waist height though. Shouldn't be too bad."

Training would be grand. But T'ral can't resist, "I don't know who this 'Liana' is, but she musta done you wrong." T'ral's dark eyes crinkle with humor as he looks about the canopy. And… Kultir is nuts. T'ral snorts, "Climbing that rock? That was clearly dangerous." Even if the tracker had scrambled up like he was born to it. T'ral nods at the relay of information about the river crossing. He pauses to hitch the pack on his back and resettle its weight before following after Kultir.

Kultir laughs heartily and shakes his head. "Lianas are vines … at least that's what they are called in Ista." His eyes shine at the bluerider as he grins at the man. "Fine … there was no danger to you then. And it's not dangerous if you're careful and know what you're doing." Heading down the incline at a good pace, he leads his companion back into the heavily overhung jungle as he keeps his eyes on the trail they are following. Breaking into another small clearing, the tracker doesn't notice the disturbance in the water until he glances in that direction and stops dead in his tracks. Keeping his feet perfectly still, he looks at the ground around him and notes how the thick jungle groundcover is trampled and broken as if a lot of people had moved through the area. Crouching down, he carefully presses the thick greenery away from the ground in an attempt to see if clear tracks had been left. "T'ral … be careful where you walk. Something's been through here." Pushing himself back to his feet, he carefully steps toward the flowing river and frowns at the churned up silt and turns to look at the dragonrider. "There's no clear tracks but there's no herds of wild beasts around here … they're all up on the plateau, no reason to come down here where they could be trapped."

T'ral sighs, if Kultir didn't get the joke, he wasn't going to belabor it. And, as had been well-established, joking was hit or miss for T'ral. Mostly 'miss' today it seemed. Down at the crossing, T'ral checks his movement when Kultir stills. He moves carefully looking at the obviously trodden ground. "Which way do you think they were headed?" He looks skyward, eyes going vague as he speaks to Esanth.

Sighing softly, he scrubs a hand through his sandy hair and hunkers down on the very edge of the river to examine the bank more closely. "Well … all I can really tell is that a lot of something crossed the river here." He frowns at the scuffed and broken greenery as if just glaring at it will make it give up the secrets it holds. "I do know it's not caprines or porcine since there are no clear prints … those two make distinctive prints. It's very doubtful that it's felines … they'd not break so many stems of the groundcover despite their weight. I suppose it's possible it's human, but … I've never seen a human who could walk everywhere without leaving some kind of distinctive track somewhere. Maybe if they were barefoot …" His voice trails off as he shrugs slightly, at a loss for being able to give the dragonrider concrete information and not happy about it.

The swirling silt in the sluggish lees of the current meant whatever had crossed had crossed recently. The water was moving swiftly enough to take signs of passage away quickly. "Esanth has relayed this along. Some sweepriders are enroute." Hairs on the back of T'ral's neck prickle. "I've got a bad feeling about this." He looks down at the disturbed undergrowth and peers across the river. "I can't tell if there's anything mussed over there. Let's go look." He sits on a rock to pull off his boots and socks, tucking them into his pack. Pants are rolled up farther and buttoned in place. Toes squishing in the muddy bank, T'ral peers into the murky water and feels his way forward carefully.

Kultir nods slightly as he settles onto the bank to remove his own boots and socks, the trouser legs getting folded up to just above his knee as he hopes that will keep them relatively dry. "Well, not much we can see from over here. Normally I'd string a help line across but it doesn't look like we should take the time. Just be careful, these rocks are not completely solid to walk on … you don't want to catch an ankle in a hole." Slinging his boots over the top of his pack to keep them dry, he moves carefully into the cool water and grimaces as he has to feel his way in the silty water. As soon as he tries to take that first step after getting both feet in the river, he almost ends up measuring his length in the water as he snags his foot on something beneath the water. "What the …! T'ral, I'm caught on something here." Reaching beneath the water, he follows his leg and then foot to where something has threaded between a couple of his toes and pulls up what turns out to be a heavy sack. "Well … guess this indicates they were human …"

T'ral turns at Kultir's outcry, arms pinwheeling. He steadies himself and sighs in relief when Kultir isn't in any danger. He peers curiously at the bag. He murmurs in awe, "Or some really enterprising herdbeasts." He peers at the sack, mud is obscuring an insignia. "Well. The middle of the river is no place to be examining this. You got that?" Of course he does. T'ral picks his way carefully across, helping if needed and turns to peer at the sack. The symbol is still unclear, but that smell certainly isn't. Firestone. T'ral's winces, "Ach. What the devil is a sack of firestone doing in the river?"

Kultir grimaces as he startles the bluerider and nearly causes him to fall. "Sorry … didn't intend to startle you that bad. Yeah … I got it." Carefully picking his way across the slow moving portion of the river, he finally gets to the opposite bank without anything else trying to grab him from beneath the water. Examining the symbol on the bag, he frowns and taps the symbol a few times. "I know this … where do I know this from?" His nose wrinkles at the acrid odor and shrugs. "No idea but … sharditall, that symbol is Ruathan, right?" He offers the bag to the other man, still frowning as he puzzles at the tracks, bag and symbol and tries to figure out how it all fits together.

T'ral takes the bag and sets it down, looking to make sure there are no obvious tracks where he's setting the sack down. He squats down to look closer, the heady reek of firestone thick in the humid air. Ugh. "Yeah. That is Ruatha's symbol." He squints up at Kultir. "In green. This is high-grade 'stone." He shakes his head, peering at the undergrowth on this side of the river. "What's it doing he-" A pair of shadows flow past, riders high above. T'ral waves. His eyes go vague, relaying information to and from Esanth. The exchange takes a few moments. "They didn't see anything on that side. They're sweeping this side now." He squints up at Kultir, "And we're to hightail it back to the Weyr." T'ral looks down at the sack with a rueful grin, "I thought my days of hauling 'stone were through." He puts a hand on the sack and tosses a chin at Kultir, "See if you can make anything out on this side. I'll, uh, stay out of the way right here."

Kultir checks to be sure that there are no prints where he's trying to settle so that he can put his socks and boots back on. He shrugs slightly at T'ral and then nods when the man's gaze clears once more. "Does it matter that it's in green?" He doesn't know what Ruatha's colors are so that didn't even stand out at him. "Hmm, doesn't surprise me all that much. I'll look around while we head back toward where Esanth is. But I'm not seeing much right here." Standing and moving slowly around this smaller side of the clearing around the river crossing. Every once in a while he crouches and gently moves broken stems of groundcover and sighs when nothing stands out. Shaking his head, perplexed, the young tracker glances off into the trees a few times before turning his gaze across the river once more. Once all the ground in the clearing has been examined, he returns to T'ral's side and shrugs. "There's nothing solid here either … actually less than over there." He waves a hand at the other side they had just come from.

"Hmmm?" T'ral's brow furrows, the wheels in his head cranking away at what this could mean. "Green? Oh. Grading. Firestone grading. Red for low-grade. Yellow for mid. Green for high." He puts on socks and boots as well, rolling his pants legs down and stuffing them into his boot tops. "Nothing? Weirder and weirder. Maybe the riders will spot something." He squints at the sack, squatting to run a hand over the Ruathan mark, before hauling it up -lift with the legs- and settling it on his shoulders. Ugh. Weyrlinghood flashbacks. Though they'd never run with WET bags of firestone. Somehow it made the smell worse. Kultir takes the lead on the trail back and T'ral, his progress considerably slower than on the outbound trip, grunts as he shifts the sack, grimacing, "Looks like you'll have to teach me," grunt, "Machete tricks another time."

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