Who

R'ku, A'lira, A'yo

What

Sirocco responds to a distress call in the desert, discovering a stranded caravan with sick animals.

When

It is midmorning of the first day of the sixth month of the twelfth turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Igen Protectorate

OOC Date 09 Nov 2017 08:00

 

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"Keradje wants me to destroy the sick animals. Once we do that— will your dragons burn them?"


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The Eastern Road

Beyond a steep traverse down the eastern slopes of the Central Range, the road leading out toward Keroon becomes level and wide, a landscape of grit and sandstone giving way to flatlands and swamps near the Igen River. The air becomes thicker, the aridness of the desert succumbing to the atmosphere of the river and, further on, the sea. Eventually, this melds into the plains and foothills that define Keroon's plateau.
 
It is the first day of Summer and 93 degrees.  It is a bright, sunny day.


The first day of summer is coming to a close. Igen Weyr is in its late-afternoon lull, with meandering foot traffic and lazy dragonwings. In the bazaar, the daytime merchants are closing up their shops and stalls, while the night folk are beginning to set up their wares and their meals. An old man in sky-blue robes has a lute across his knee, testing its strings in a plaintive chord. Sirocco has been enjoying its rest day after a long seven, and many of the riders are out of the weyr: there had been some regional first-summer festival that drew off a large number. It has been a quiet day for the wing until Ilujarath reappears alone above the weyr. His thoughts cast out for dragons in Sirocco, smoke curling on the edges of his deep steady voice. « Humans need help on the Eastern Road, » he calls out. « Their caravan collapsed. »

It's a restday and R'ku had been doing what that usually entails - resting. More specifically, he had been browsing among the stalls in the Bazaar, in search of something to purchase as a gift. As luck would have it, he spies the perfect item … just when the call for help comes over his dragon's link. "Well - shit," R'ku is quick to swear and then starts to sprint towards where Kabelkath is sunning himself at the edge of the Bazaar. As he runs, he gets his bronze to try to rouse whoever he can from Sirocco, which probably is only A'lira at this point. « Kyprioth? We are needed to pull someone's ass out of the fire, as usual. Have yours bring a first aid kit and some general supplies and meet outside the Bazaar. We're going to assess what's needed. » The fiery sparks of Kabelkath's mindscape withdraw from Kyprioth and then snake out to Ilujarath, « R'ku is busting his ass to come. We will help. Where are we needed? » At least Kabelkath can get the information while his rider makes his way to him.

Sun, fun, relaxation: so needed after the long week; no studies, no drills, nothing but the pleasures all young meen seek when they're out to the festivities of life. A'lira is also trawling for a gift or two, while Kyprioth lies basking in the sun. But no, that's not going to be allowed: Kabelkath's voice interrupts the quiet with the urgent message, and the brown erupts from his wallow, bellowing for his rider who comes at a run, supplies collected with well trained haste. «We come.» He assures, dipping his shoulder to aid the man to mount. And they're airborne, headed for the Eastern Road at speed, leaving in their wake dust and wind and grit.

Ilujarath climbs along the highest reaches of the weyr crag, his wings half-opened, a deep red-brown in the late day's light. He sends his brothers a picture that will soon merge into reality: the distant wall of the Central Range, the sandy expanse of the eastern desert. Then Ilujarath leaps backward off the weyr lip, a single and powerful bound. When he vanishes he leaves behind only the scent of burnt sage.

Out in the waste, the sun has disappeared behind the black wall of the Central Range. Sand and sky both glow red in the light. The Eastern Road snakes on and on for days through the desert, where it will dip into swamps and plains later on, one of the major trade routes into Keroon. Ilujarath brings them to an offshoot of the road, a path less-traveled, out of sight of the main artery and surrounded by the silence of dunes. The remains of Interval-era buildings barely emerge from the sand, stone and brick, the roofless gape of some dwelling or waystation. Three wagons and two carts are pulled up together where the ground is most solid. Loose animals shelter in the lengthening shadow of the wagons, a few drays, a few goats. A chestnut horse paces back and forth toward the rear of the wagon, not wanting to be handled. At the far front of the wagons, all the unyoked burdenbeasts lay together on the ground, clearly overcome with heat or sickness. The trader people are scattered among their wagons, though a few cluster together in the ruin of the building, drawn together in conversation away from the others. A'yo is with them there, a young man in riding leathers, though he has divested himself of most of the unnecessary parts of the uniform to prevent heat exhaustion.

R'ku makes it to his bronze only slightly out of breath - all that PT pays off for something. He has to trust that A'lira has brought supplies, as time is too short for him to grab anything beyond his normal riding gear. Kabelkath is soon up in the air, molten bronzen wings flashing in the sun as he makes haste to follow Ilujarath *between* after relaying the correct destination to Kyprioth. Once the bronze is circling above the Eastern Road, R'ku has to pause to take in the scene, brow furrowed slightly in contemplation. « Mine says we should land down wind of the beasts to prevent spooking them. The road seems sturdy off by that dune. » Nestled amongst a flurry of campfire sparks, Kabelkath relays the image of the spot he thinks would be best for landing. It should hopefully be big enough for more than one dragon to touch down. Once Kabelkath's thin frame settles on the sandy ground, wings rustling, R'ku is quick to slide adroitly down the bronze's side, landing easily on the ground. It takes a few minutes for the bronzerider to head up the road to where A'yo is - he does pause briefly to be sure that Kyprioth is following. The sight of the collapsed herdbeasts causes a flicker of concern to appear briefly on R'ku's face, though he schools it to impassiveness as he approaches the caravan. "What's happened?" he asks of A'yo, since he may have some knowledge of the current situation.

Oh, but A'lira has, for it's a habit with the man to always, always have a kit with him; he's been too long a healer to eschew the habit now.  The pair blonk out of ::between:: mere seconds after their leaders, Kyprioth circcling to get a good aerial view before landing, away fron already unnerved beasts and men, and near to Kabelkath. A'lira is off the brown loke a slung shot, kit and all in hand as he closes in on R'ku and A'yo, frowning with concern for a moment. "Any injured I should see to?" Always, jis first concern in these situations — it's all too easy to overlook something life threatening until it's too late.

A'yo withdraws from the caravan people and steps out of the ruin to meet R'ku. He snaps a salute from a sweaty brow; his face seems to glow with it. "We were the watchrider pair at the Sea Hold," he says. That's not what the roster said; he must have taken the shift for a friend in the wing, likely to let them go to the festival. "A green flit showed up in distress. We couldn't get much from her, only pictures of wagons in the sand. We found these people. It looks like their burdenbeasts collapsed from sickness— don't touch them." He looks pleased to see A'lira, especially arriving with extra supplies— a quick flash of a smile. "Nobody's injured here, but one of the children isn't feeling well. He's sleeping in the last wagon. Stomach ache, he said. I don't know if he's sick, or just scared. He was supposed to go with his cousin, but the rest of the caravan went their own way, and it looks like they didn't know he was sleeping in another wagon. You'll want to talk to Keradje, he's the leader of the caravan, or, well, what's left of it."

The leader of the group is an old man, perhaps in his seventies. He is on the shorter side of a man's height, his back bent, his body the testament to a hard life outdoors. His skin is the color of tea, and his silver beard is finely kept, a point of pride. There are two red-earth beads in it. He wears a robe of sky-blue, stitched with a diamond-pattern embroidery about the collar and sleeves. As R'ku and A'lira arrive, he straightens up, his face a frown. It must be difficult for him to ask for help in a time like this.

R'ku spares a baleful glance up at the sun for a moment - he's already starting to glisten with sweat, as well, despite having just come from *between*. He's grown up in Igen, though, so he astutely ignores the heat for now as he listens to A'yo's report, nodding his head as he listens, his eyes roving over the scene. At the mention of the caravan leader, he gives a curt nod. And, once A'lira is close by, he motions to the other rider with a murmur, "Check on the child. Check how everyone's doing for water - if it's dire, we can get a shipment in here to help before we figure out what to do with the caravan itself." Pausing only to wipe his hands down the sides of his pants to try to wipe away any lingering sweat, R'ku moves over to meet Keradje, reaching out with a newly un-sweaty hand to shake his, "Greetings, Keradje. I'm R'ku, Wingleader of Sirocco wing and rider of Bronze Kabelkath. I'm sorry to hear of your trouble." He pauses a moment before moving on, "Where were you coming from and where are you headed to? Hopefully we can be of some assistance to get you where you need to be."

A'lira enjoys the sweaty meeting no more than the others, though he's finally gotten used to being… damp within minutes of leaving between like every other Igenite. He simply removes a layer as soon as is reasonable as he takes in the necessary information. That done, he gives a nod and turns toward the train, searching out the ill child in question, drawing some relief in knowing there are no bloody messes to clean up along the way. He reaches that last wagon, encountering the worried face of a woman barring the way. "Ah, yes," A'lira smiles gently as the woman begins explaining in soft and hesitant tones, "so I have heard. I have sufficient training to be of help to you, my lady. May I examine him?" After a moment's hesitation, she invites to tall man into the wagon, where he begins his examination, very gently and very carefully. The child's nervousness at such a large and svarred man looming near soon evaporates under the deliberately kind voice of the brownrider, asking him innocuous questions among the serious. "So, did you eat all the bubblies in the place? Or just some." Giggles, and four fingers. "Just four, hmm?" A'lira appears to be doubtful, even as he holds the child's face in one hand, taking in the color of eye and skin, of gums and tongue. "And how many sandwiches and meatrolls?" "A lot." Well. The boy certainly has a good appetite! A'lira approves. "Did you feel funny right after or when the wagon fell over?" And so on until his examination is complete. Finding nothing more than a bit of queasy fear in the wake of the accident, A'lira leaves careful instructions with the woman for the boy's recovery, then moves among the rest of the caravan, ensuring water supply.

Keradje looks beyond to the trio of dragons, and then his eyes return to the wingleader. His handshake is strong for an old man. "We were nine wagons when we left Keroon Sea Hold. Our next destination was a caravanserai to the south of here, and then to Igen Hold. But our animals went lame… now they've collapsed. The young men grew restive. Chekkad has always challenged me, the whelp! He took six of the wagons south, said he'd send back for help. Some of the others went on horseback some time later. Said they could move faster. That was last night. They should have been to the caravanserai by now— but you didn't hear of our plight from them, did you? Some firelizard shows up in Keroon Sea Hold instead. It wasn't from us. I don't know if Chekkad's group has suffered the same malady. We all came from Keroon— there's that sickness, but all of our animals looked steady before we embarked."

A woman waits outside the middle wagon, her back leaned against the sideboard. Sedasi, the quartermaster. She is a dark-skinned woman in a vest of wine-colored cloth and loose pants of faded orange-red. Tall, perhaps early forties, her hair wrapped in a white scarf tinged by desert dust. She is armed with a whip and a polished wooden club with cruel-looking notches. "We have enough water for two days more, if no one washes," she says to A'lira. "The fool Chekkad, he took off without the supply wagons! Shouting like an idiot. That's what we have here, the supply wagons. But he took the wagons that carried all our goods. If he is truly lost in the desert like it seems… then he will discover he cannot eat furs and hides and leathers."

R'ku rubs idly at his chin as he listens to Keradje, his fingers rasping slightly against the stubble there. "So some of the animals were alright when you separated if Chekkad was able to take some of the wagons south, correct?" He frowns in thought, his gaze tracking to the south as he considers the problem at hand. "Do any of your group even have a green fire lizard? It could be that someone at the caravanserie sent it on when your group reached there, but I will have to check on that once I am sure you are taken care of." He glances over the remaining wagons and then glances back to Keradje, "How are you with water and supplies for your remaining group? I'm going to send for some Beastcrafters to inspect your animals, though I need to know if supplies are required, as well." He pats idly at his belt pouch as he talks, pulling out a scrap of parchment and a pen, scribbling a short note on the surface. As he does this, a gold fire lizard pops into the area, chittering happily, before divebombing to R'ku's shoulder. "Calm yourself, Cava - I need you to go to the caravanserai," R'ku instructs tying the note to the gold's leg and shooing her off. The gold chirps an ackwoledgement before disappearing. Turning back to Keradje, R'ku explains, "I've sent a note ahead to the caravanserai to ask if any of your group have arrived. If not, I'll have to call back to the Weyr and get Whirlwind to start sweeps for them."

A'lira looks down on Sedasi with intense curiosity— and some small alarm. "If their beasts are beginning to get as ill as yours are… I  doubt they will have much interest in goods." Even though he is, naturally, in agreement with the woman regarding the foolishness of simply rushing off ill supplied unto the desert's untender busom. "Two days…" With ill animals. A'lira casts his gaze over the creatures, frowning. "I do believe you will need more."

"The firelizard doesn't belong to this group," A'yo says. "She was very distressed. Ilu couldn't get a clear picture from her, nothing to jump from. We had to come out of between at the Eastern Road, and we had only just found them when we sent back to you at the weyr. I have my firelizard Cardamom waiting in the Sea Hold tavern where the green appeared. If she comes back, Cardamom will tell us." The tavern must have been the last clear picture of a place the firelizard had before the caravan left on its journey. "What would you like me to do, R'ku? Do you want me and Ilu to stay with these people? Do you want to try to move them on the dragons?" He looks to Karadje. "Grandfather, I do not think your goats will pull these wagons."

"Our supplies will hold us for another day, comfortably, and two or more days, with effort." Karadje shakes his head. "We would last longer, but I do not trust the dried meat portions of our rations. Keroon said they had this sickness under control! They made the quarantines! But how is it that my beasts fail me? I think someone is lying. They are trying to hide this sickness out of ill intent… or it has slipped beyond their control. I tell you, we will not return east until this matter is dealt with."

Sedasi returns A'lira's study with a level frankness. "The water will last," she replies curtly. "We carried enough for nine wagons and its people. Six wagons are gone, and four men on horseback. We have enough water for eight people, five goats, two drays, and a runner." A sharp nod toward the lowing, miserable burdenbeasts far in front of the lead wagon. "Keradje wants me to destroy the sick animals. Once we do that— will your dragons burn them?"

R'ku surveys the scene thoughtfully before turning back to A'yo, his voice even and calm, "We need to figure out what happened to the rest of their people first. But I think transporting them back to the Weyr or wherever their kinsmen may be would be best." Turning back to Keradje, he inclines his head, "Sir - I think you may need to be transported out of here by dragon for your safety. Would you prefer to go tot he Weyr or some other destination? We can see about your other kinsmen to be sure they're alright." He hesitates, glancing back towards the sick beasts before looking back to Keradje, "I do believe the Beastcraft may want to look at your beasts, though. I can get some of them flown out here to have a look at them."

He has his doubts, does A'lira — but what does he know of the provisioning of a caravan? Nothing. So he will reluctantly take the woman's word for it. "That… may be best, Aunt." For the animals may be too dangerous to butcher for food at this stage. And rhen the tail end of R'ku's comments are caught. "But first, let me confer with my leader." He offers the irate woman a bow, slowly making his way back to that worthy. Boy is he glad this one doesn't rest on his shoulders.

A'yo stands by for the final decision. He takes his jacket off the sideboard of a wagon, draping it over his shoulder. Keradje looks over his people, and steps away to have a word with them: an old woman in grey robes adorned with flower motifs, a younger woman, and a few young males with the hardy look of the caravan-born. Keradje returns. "I will remain with Sedasi to meet the Herders, if you could spare a dragon and rider to stay with us. Bandits roam these roads. The others ask for transport to the weyr— we have friends and family in the bazaar." There is a lingering pause as he looks upon his animals. "If the Herders are to tell anything useful from the beasts… perhaps we should not burn their bodies."

R'ku's gaze goes distant for a while as he passes instructions to Kabelkath. A few moments later he nods firmly, "Word has been sent back to the Weyr - some Beastcrafters are being gathered and will be flown out here directly. As to anyone that is being transported to the Weyr … " He trails off and indicates A'lira and A'yo, "A'lira, A'yo. Can you work out between the two of you the transportation of those who want to be taken to the Weyr? Ensure the sick boy is taken to the Infirmary." He looks about to elaborate, though there is a sudden *pop* and Cava returns, twittering, from *between*. The little gold swoops down, landing rather clumsily on R'ku's shoulder. The Wingleader carefully removes the message, unrolling the parchment and squinting down at it, "Shard it all." He huffs a breath, eyes narrowing, "I'm sorry, Keradje, your people are not at the caravanserie. But rest assured I'm sending a message to the Weyrleader right now. Whirlwind will mount a search." He tucks the message into his belt pouch and then nods, "I'll stay here until the Beastcrafters come and ensure everyone else can be flown out once their work is done." He waves a hand to A'yo and A'lira, indicating they should go about their business.

And so the plan is in place, A'lira accepting his role with a crisp salute before turning to A'yo. "Well. Shall we divvy them up among us? I'll take the boy and the woman." Since he's fairly certain they will object to being carted about lije so much cargo, and he wants to be absolutely certain of the boy's comfort and continued care. "And perhaps one other."

A'yo snaps a smart salute. "Once everyone is safe in the weyr," he tells R'ku, "I'll return to my post in Keroon Sea Hold." He shows A'lira a grin. "We'll take the remainders. Ilu can carry a few passengers; I had some extra strap attachments put on to him. He loves to give people a ride. Best luck to you, and see you soon." He claps A'lira on the shoulder and then goes on his way to find his crew. Ilujarath calls out once, a low boom of a sound. Once the brown dragons are loaded with their passengers, the caravan people bundled safely, Ilujarath and Kyprioth heave into the darkening sky for a return to the weyr. And so R'ku and Kabelkath remain with the old man and the quartermaster, to await news from Beastcraft around the fire.

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