Alsha, A'lira


Alsha explains some of the more esoteric knowledge of the Red Star to A'lira.



It is the fifty-eighth day of Winter and 40 degrees. It is a bright, sunny day with a gentle wind. (Early morning, before dawn. Logger totally forgot to get the +time)


Star Stones

OOC Date 09 Oct 2017 05:00


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Star Stones

The climb up here on foot is steep, narrow stone steps carved high into the sandstone, and from the top the precipice-drop to the jagged-craggy stones far, far below is treacherous. It's a wide sweep of ledge, a dragonlength and a half jutting out from a rough cliff wall. The wind here is ceaseless, dusty-dry during daytimes and biting at night. But for those who brave the climb to this lookout perched high above the Weyr's bowl, the view from these sandy-red rocks is breathtaking. Igen stretches wide-wide-wide around, a vast expanse of deep blue lake and lush green swamp and the myriad rust-rich colours of desert and rock. The real purpose of this spot, though, is highlighted not in its view of what is below but its view of what is above. Three tall rocks stand, one balanced across the tops of the other two, at the focal point of the ledge, perpetually framing one slice of the desert sky beyond.

Being an astronomer tends to involve working nights - or in this case, early mornings. Alsha isn't in fact primarily an astronomer nowadays, but she's a frequent visitor to the Star Stones in the wee small hours, and here she is now. She's got a distance viewer turned on the rising Red Planet, and she's making notes on a clipboard by the light of the setting moons, though there's a heavily-shielded hand-sized glowbasket at her feet if needed, as well as her canvas backpack. (RE)

What's with all these early birds perched on the Star Stones? For soon enough, Alsha is joined by A'lira, rumpled and sleepy in yesterday's shirt and pants, yet dutifully climbing up to the Stones to indulge his dragon's insistence that they begin the day in meditation — 'to focus the mind', or whatever. The poor man has not yet had a cup of klah, even. Upon reaching the Stones, though, A'lira finds an occupant: Alsha. For a moment, he cannot place her face. And then, blearily, he recalls her: "Journeyman Alsha?" His voice is rust and embers, this early in the morning.

Alsha turns away from the telescope. She sounds quite bright for the hour as she greets the young brownrider, though she has to peer through the gloom a bit to identify him. "That's right. A'lira, isn't it? Good morning to you both! What brings you up here: are you on duty?"

And with that, A'lira is sure to decide Alsha is pure evil: she likes the early morning. Chipper, and all that. "Don't remind me," He rasps, eyeing his dragon on the Heights with something like irritation. "He likes to begin the day with meditation. And here is the best place to see the stars." The exasperation knows no bounds, though it's fond; it's much too late to go back and pick a different dragon, after all. "Yeah, I'm A'lira. And he is Kyprioth, my torturer." Beam.

"Well, he certainly chooses the right spot if he's interested in stars - though this whole region has wonderfully clear skies," Alsha says in an approving tone. "Really, we ought to have built our main Hall somewhere round here, rather than Gar." With a hint of curiosity in her voice, she continues, "It hadn't really occurred to me that a dragon might be interested in stars."

A'lira grins wryly, settling himself down with his back against the upright rock. "He knows how to pick the most visually pretty places — even if he likes gettin' there early." He tilts his head up at Alsha, and shrugs, unsure as to how to explain Kyprioth. "He's interested in anythin' that could be added to his lil collection of things."

Alsha says, "There's certainly a good view," Alsha says, flapping a hand to indicate the dark, star-spangled sky. "What sort of things does he collect, then? Do you have a weyr full of exhibits in his personal collection? Or is it more… experiences, sights."

"It's the experiences, the sights. He likes going over them in his head, for as long as he can remember it." A'lira's irritation has all but disappeared, now; there is something soothing about the view. "I draw them for him, usually, though, so he can see them again." And he holds up his sketchpad for Alsha to see.

Alsha steps across, but she can't make out much of what's visible on the sketchpad, so she returns to pick up the glowbasket and opens it the minutest crack. "You're an artist, then? I don't want to ruin our night vision, but… may I see?" In fact, there's also a sketch on the clipboard she's holding.

A'lira nods. "You have to learn how to draw accurate renderings as a Healer. Somebody's gotta keep the diagrams for the apprentices looking spiff." Above, there's a snort of amusement; apparently, Kyprioth is well aware A'lira is stalling, but will let him get away with it this time. A'lira slides a look at the clipboard, and grins, "Trade ya?" Because he wants to know what's on the clipboard.

Alsha grins back. "All right." She hands over the clipboard. It's not actually a very exciting sketch: it's a circle with some rather vague shapes marked in, not really recognisable as anything in particular. The lines vary between moderately firm and fairly tentative, apart from the outline: the circle itself looks as if she might have drawn round something, perhaps before she came out tonight. She holds out a hand for the sketchbook.

The sketchbook is handed over without protest, and Alsha will find many pages of scenes, both vibrantly colorful and gradient gray; there's Gather scenes and the tangled jungle of Southern; the endless sands of Igen under the moons; the Sea of Azmov, all with even the tiniest detail picked out in sharp relief, almost alive on the page. A'lira considers Alsha's sketch, wondering: "Are you drawin' the moons, here?"

Alsha directs a narrow beam of light on the pages of A'lira's notebook as she leafs through, giving several approving nods. "Well, you're a better artist than I am! Which wouldn't be difficult. Diagrams, yes. Art, no." She gestures towards the distance viewer, which is still pointed at the ascending red menace. "I was just recording my observations. That's the most powerful distance viewer we've got here; you can just about make out some features." She offers him the glowbasket.

A'lira has has Turns to practice; one of the few things that was portable for a young man. "Thank you," he smiles as she compliments him, before he takes in her diagram. Ah, he sees it now: "This is how that menace goes around Pern, then?"

Alsha nods. "And in particular, what I can see of it through the viewer tonight. You know it has features that we think are clouds? At some points in its orbit, at least; there's less to see as the Pass progresses. Really not somewhere one would want to go for a visit, I suspect." She offers the notebook back.

"Ah, I see." And now the circles make sense. "Wait — it does?" A'lira frowns up at Alsha in shock. "How in hell that thing got clouds?" It's a new one on him, at least; before, he'd only known that it glowed baleful red when it begins to drop its pestilence upon their heads. Oh, there had been many lessons regarding its trajectory and whatnot, yet A'lira could not recall anything speculating on clouds.

"It's not a terribly useful piece of knowledge," Alsha laughs, and lowers the notebook again. "And it's not as if even our largest distance-viewers give us a very detailed look. But in the Tenth Pass they had good enough equipment to observe it all the way through the Pass. We think they're not solid features because they change over time. Quite a lot of time, but if you watch for months, you see it. And they were gone by the end of the Pass. At the moment there are big east-west streaks around its equator." Which is what the sketch tried to show. "Would you like to see?"

There's a grunt from above, and a nose shoves its way over the ledge as Kyprioth huffs gently to his rider — and incidentally whuffs Alsha's hair. A'lira looks up to his dragon, then levers himself up, one hand against the wall for balance. "Much as I'd love to, himself reminds me we shall be late for drills." He reluctantly hands over her clipboard. "Maybe next time." He grins at her. "Best believe I'll be findin' you." Was that a threat or a promise? Perhaps a bit of both. And somehow, he manages to hook himself up to his dragon and get strapped in — don't try this at home, kids. And then they're off to the drills.

Quiet, tranquil, intimate: walls and floor are slate, delicately veined in glitering, night-jewel lapis lazuli and chrome. As rich and luxuriant as those might be, the place is sparingly, if richly, furnished; an elegant skybroom desk takes pride of place in a small alcove, its surface neatly stocked with proper writing utensils, the wall above it supporting a scholar's small library of precious books. The wardrobe, too, is skybroom, sufficiently sized for a young bachelor whose taste in clothes runs to the convenient rather than the fashionable. And yet, there's a gradient splash of color amid the darkling tones: a cool lavender and Arctic hyacinth afghan spills, untidy, over a solid low-slung bed. The scent of fresh herbs provides a delicate hint of Southern's jungles from a small porcelain bowl settled in a small, natural niche.

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