Rocio, R'zel


A sweep turns up a big problem.


It is noon of the twelfth day of the eleventh month of the twelfth turn of the 12th pass.


Crystal Beach, on the Azov Coast.

OOC Date 02 Jan 2018 00:00




Crystal Beach

White sands sweep out from a spattering of trees and neat cotholds made of stone. The picture of idealistic beauty, this little resort is only for those who can afford the long ride to the small dock nearby. Fruit trees provide an easy currency to trade in, as well as a wonderful place to hide.

It's becoming clear to members of both wings that Ocelot's wingsecond and one of Serval's wingseconds have been cooking up some schemes for inter-wing co-operation. One of those involves flying a few joint sweeps, and today is one of those days. Rocio and R'zel have been paired up for a route along the Azov coast, so they and their dragons have been out for an hour or so now, with one of them flying over the shallows and beach, and the other just a little way inland. So far it's been uneventful - quiet, even. But here's a nice cove coming up - lovely beach, a few little boats bobbing out to sea, probably fishing. Verokanth tells Niamyth, « Mine wonders if you and yours would welcome a short break, down there. »

Although Southern is the Weyr of their Impression, Rocio and Niamyth have taken some time to acclimate themselves with the air and landscape of the territory since returning home. The ink of their transfer hidework has not fully dried and yet here they are a few days after leaving Igen on sweeps along the coastline with Ocelot's wingsecond. « Sure thing! Meet ya down there. » The warm scent of summer lemongrass gently wafts into Verokanth's mindscape as Niamyth spirals down toward the beach to land with precision. Rocio removes her riding helmet and hooks it onto her lifemate's straps before dismounting with ease. "Been a while since I been around these parts." she says while tugging off her gloves.

Perhaps the new sweep schedule has taken the locals by surprise, because, although there's no signal out to attract the attention of a passing dragonrider, as the dragons draw closer, the people on the boats start to wave enthusiastically, and it doesn't look like a cheery greeting. Verokanth follows Niamyth down, but as he lands, he and his rider both turn their gaze out to sea. « On the boats. They are waving. » R'zel echoes his dragon's comment. "It looks like they're trying to get our attention." People are drifting out of the cotholds, too, mostly women and children as the men are on the boats. The women seem reluctant to approach; the kids have no such scruples, and pretty soon there are half a dozen of them gawping at the two dragons from a few feet away. One of the boats has turned towards the jetty, tacking to make best use of the gusty breeze.

Niamyth snorts at the sand before lifting her head to peer at the young onlookers drawing closer to her feet. She knows enough not to make any sudden movements and stays somewhat still despite the urge to kick up her heels and run down the beach. Rocio, however, waves to the kids with a grin. "Did we scare away the fish or somethin'? Dragons cast awful big shadows." She's generally out of the loop for any gossip as to why the fisher folk would be angry at them other than the obvious. "I mean, I'd be ticked off if someone scared away somethin' I was tryin' t' kill." Spoken like a true hunter, the greenrider sometimes aches for her former life.

Verokanth turns towards the children and lies down, extending his long neck towards them. R'zel waves back to someone on the approaching boat, indicating that he understands they want to talk to the riders, then joins the group on the sands. "Hello," he says to the kids, and lays a hand on the bronze's neck. "This is Verokanth, and I'm R'zel, and these are Rocio and Niamyth." Cue awed peering from the kids, accompanied by oohs and aaahs, before a girl a little bolder than the rest steps forward and asks, "Can we… stroke them?" That boat's going to take a while longer to get here, and the others are now following the first towards the shore.

"Sure ya can! Nia likes scritches." Rocio tugs off her riding gloves and turns toward the water to watch the boat for a moment. As the children gather near the dragons, they might notice that Niamyth has an arched bow and a covered quiver of arrows attached to the leather girth of her straps — clearly out of reach unless they climb to get near it. Then Rocio will have to do something about it. A hand lifts to brush a few wisps of blonde hair behind her ear and to adjust the headband that keeps most of her hair out of her face. "She likes the attention." Note how Nia's tail practically thumps against the sand.

R'zel takes a moment to check with Verokanth, then says, "Sure, go ahead - he likes his eye ridges scratched - gently - but don't put any fingers in his eyes, please." Verokanth dutifully tips his head to accommodate his smaller admirers, and takes the precaution of closing his eyelids on that side. The children crowd round the two dragons. Verokanth wafts a thought towards Niamyth, minty and amused. « Little ones. I don't mind them, but they do seem to come in flocks. » R'zel's keeping half an eye on the boats as he watches the kids.

Niamyth crouches down like a feline with her legs tucked neatly underneath her body as the children scritch her toes. She is dainty for a green and one of the smallest at Southern, which makes her less intimidating than, say, a huge bronze nearby. « I like the tiny humans! » Her tail twitches a little with every touch and Rocio grins at the kids' ministrations. "Soooo." The awkward silence must end. "Whaddya think they want?" The fishermen, that is. "I swear it's 'cause we scattered the fish." She may or may not be joking about that.

Verokanth gives a gentle croon, remembering to keep his volume low so as not to scare the little ones who are lavishing attention on his eye ridge. « They are good at scratching. » Meanwhile, R'zel frowns. "I doubt it - we often fly along the coast. But we'll soon know." The first boat is almost at the jetty, and the man in the bow is holding a coil of mooring line and preparing to jump to the shore. One of the children pipes up, "Nah. It's because of all the dead 'uns."

In the meantime, Rocio unsheathes a small knife from somewhere hidden (probably near her hip) and starts to pick at the crud underneath her fingernails with the pointed tip. She leans against Niamyth as she focuses on her task and patiently waits for the fishermen to make it to shore so she can figure out what they need. Every so often she'll flick her pale colored eyes toward the water and then over at the children giving Niamyth tender love and care to make sure that no one's attempting to climb on slender viridian muzzle. That'd be bad, especially with broody mothers watching them like hawks. "Yup. I reckon we will." Find out soon enough.

"Dead 'uns? Uh, dead ones?" R'zel still has the harper imperative to preserve the language somewhere in his subconscious, it seems. "Yeah. Dead 'uns," the boy repeats. "Washed up along the beach last night. Dozens of 'em. We had to clear 'em up afore they rotted. They were gonna see if they could see any more this morning, and they're back early, so… dead 'uns." R'zel nods slowly, and tries to catch Rocio's eye before continuing, "Well, that seems conclusive. Let's see what news there is, shall we?" One of the fisherfolk is now trotting across the beach towards the little group, while his crew ties the boat up. From some yards away, the man calls, "Dragonriders! Sirs, can you pass on some news? We got us a red tide."

Rocio quirks a honey colored brow when she catches R'zel's eye and continues to remain nonchalant as the conversation continues around her. She's listening, don't you worry. Ever observant, ever sharp, the greenriding huntress finishes cleaning underneath her fingernails, twirls the small knife once, and slips it back into its sheath attached to her belt. It's best not to have a weapon in hand when the locals approach them, of course. "Red tide?" Rocio's accent is thick when she finally adds to the conversation. Dead bodies. Red tide. She can only guess.

"Aye, sir- that is, ma'am." The fisherman does a double-take as he realises that one of the riders isn't a man. "The older men have seen it before. It's when billions of tiny things breed in the water - not sure what they are, 'cos they're too small to see, but you get a lot of them and they look like red scum, and they kill the fish. Had some washed up last night, and there's more out there, floating belly up in the red stuff." R'zel's frowning deeply; this is something completely new to him. "So could this stuff harm people? Or dolphins?" The man nods. "Eating fish that's been in this'll make you sick, they say. Can't say about the dolphins."

With Rocio's blonde hair tied back and headband keeping stray strands from her face, one could make that mistake once. She is, however, rather vertically challenged for a man. "Billions of tiny things…" She has to repeat all this under her breath so she can commit it to memory. And since R'zel is asking for clarification, her brow narrows after the last when the conversation turns grim — at least to her it does. "Like… how sick is sick?" A beat, "Can folks die eatin' the fish?"

"I'd have to ask the older ones about that," the fisherman replies. "But sicker 'n anyone'd want to be, for certain. Vomiting and the runs and feeling weaker 'n water, my Da said. He's on the Maribel over there if you want to ask him." R'zel's still frowning: as far as red water and dead fish are concerned, he's out of his depth. But he knows who isn't. "Have you seen any dolphins?" He scans the jetty for a bell, but there isn't one. The man shakes his head. "No, and I wouldn't call 'em inshore anyway, with that stuff out there." R'zel nods and glances at Rocio before continuing. "We could talk to the dolphineers at the Weyr. Who else needs to know?"

When the fisherman says that they can go ask someone on a boat, Rocio contains her flinch so that they see nothing but a sniff and a pivot toward Niamyth. « Should we be stayin' out of the water? » The green has been paying attention as the children start to wander back to their mothers near the banks, though she doesn't move to stand up. Instead, she turns her pointed snout toward her rider and looks at her with curious faceted eyes whirling a deep cobalt blue. » Dunno. But I'd stay away from it anyhow. « Rocio purses her lips and then returns her attention to R'zel and the fisherman. "Folks in the cotholds should be aware of their fish supply. We kinda need to know how far this stuff's spread…"

"That's pretty much everyone along the coast for as far as it's spread, then. And beyond, to watch out for it." R'zel purses his lips. "And we need to know about the water," he agrees, then explains to the fisherman, "The dragons bathe almost every day, and most can go elsewhere, but some can't. And people go in the water with them. Should we keep out of it?" The man's looking puzzled at that. "We had the kids clearing the beach, but… yeah, I'd keep them out of it if I were their Ma and Da." Two more boats are now tied up, and there's an elderly man heading across the lovely beach towards the riders and the fisherman, whose older relative he could well be. The children are divided between the couple of older ones listening to the conversation, and all the younger ones who are still gathered round the two dragons.

Rocio is quiet once again as she considers the much larger picture to this immediate problem the fisher folk are bringing to light. She turns again, paces toward Niamyth before turning back to R'zel. She keeps her voice quiet so those listening won't be able to hear easily if at all, "Since they don't know too much about this red scummy stuff, who's t' say that these little buggers won't breed in other bodies of water?" She pauses a moment and straightens, sucking in a breath that's exhaled silently through her nose. "I seen avians catch fish and drop them mid air when other avians go after 'em for a quick meal. All they need t' do is drop an infected fish into a river for it to be carried all over the jungle… Then you gotta way, waaayy bigger problem." Speaking from her experience as a hunter.

"Crumbs, this is bad news," R'zel murmurs in reply. He thinks for a moment. "We need to know how far it's spread, and fast, and get the warning out to all the settlements, and to the dolphineers. We need to know if the Lake's still safe, and upriver - and across on the South side, even. Maybe we can spot it from the air faster than they can from the boats. In which case, we can run some sweeps over the sea as well as along the shore." The older man arrives; he looks almost too frail to be going to sea, but he's wearing a Fishercraft knot. As R'zel murmurs, "And we should tell his Crafthall," to Rocio, the older man asks the younger one, "You told 'em about it, son?" Then he nods to the riders. "M'duty to your Weyr."

"Somethin' tells me we woulda seen it from our aerial vantage point." Rocio says, considering. "But, if we didn't know what t' look for… It's hard t' say." Niamyth slowly rises to her feet again and very carefully steps around the small group of children to put some distance between them before shaking the sand from her hide. It's as if she knows they're about to take off back to the Weyr soon — that, and she's picking up on how anxious Rocio is before embarking on a new mission. "We gotta let K'vvan and Rielle know sooner rather than later." Once the older man greets them both, Rocio returns his salutation with a nod. "Somethin' tells us we gotta big problem, sir."

"And if it's further out - we were over the beach and inland, mostly," R'zel agrees. The Seacrafter answers Rocio. "'Deed we have. Haven't seen the like for turns. Last time I saw this was up in Boll, but it lasted for seven or eight sevendays." R'zel asks, "Sir, how far out is the red… stuff? Could we see it from the air?" The man points out to sea. "Less than half a mile offshore, that way, and closer in along there." He indicates the stretch of coast that the two dragons haven't yet over-flown. "It's right up to the shore around the next headland. Has my son asked you to spread the word and told you what to say about it? Don't eat the fish that's been round the stuff, even if they look all right, and don't go in the water if there's red scum or dead fish."

Rocio blanches a bit at the thought of the red tide already being out close to a half mile. "This stuff must spread fast." Niamyth approaches from behind to indicate that she's ready to launch back into the air as soon as her rider is ready. "Yessir, we've been told. We're just about to head back t' the Weyr now to relay what we know." A side glance is given to R'zel as if to say 'we better get going', but not before she turns to regard the fishermen with a proper farewell. "Thank you for your help." She's not the ranking dragonrider present so she can't dismiss herself from the conversation — but, she can start checking Niamyth's straps in the meantime.

R'zel is all for getting going. To the disappointment of the children, Verokanth gets to his feet and carefully pads into a clear space. "We'll report this to those who need to know, sir, and I'll make sure someone comes back and gives you some news." He takes his leave and heads back to the dragons. "I'm going to have Verokanth call this in now, but before we go back I want us to get out there and see if we can see the stuff, and how high we can see it from. I'm thinking we're going to want to send some dragons out to sweep for it, so we can see how big the problem is and include that in the news we pass along to the folk along the coast." The dragons take to the air and head out to sea, and there it is: rafts of reddish-yellowish gunge, floating on the waves. A low pass will spot the dead fish. Yep, this is definitely a problem.

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