Who

Renalde, Keelie, M'noq, T'ral, Hunzak, Various miner NPCs

What

It's been four days, and, thanks to the miners preventing further rock-slides, things are looking promising for getting Renalde and Keelie out of the mountain. M'noq has been working round the clock, T'ral arrives for another shift, and Hunzak is part of the excavation team.

When

It is the thirtieth day of Autumn and 21 degrees. It's really damn cold out.

Where

Western Barrier Range, Southern Mountains

OOC Date 08 Mar 2016 05:00

 

renalde_default.jpg keelie_default.jpg m-noq_default.jpg t-ral_default.jpg hunzak_default.jpg
gruffith_default.jpg ravaith_default.jpg esanth_default.jpg

Her squinty, dirt-streaked face is the prettiest he has ever seen.


western_barrier_range.jpg

Western Barrier Range

A vast and heady range of mountains: this range runs from the western sea eastward to the Sea of Azov, splitting deftly the heat of Southern from the icy climates of the southern wastes.


The Southern mountains are COLD. It's partly that which has kept the work going slow, as workers have to get shifted out for fear of losing fingers and toes. There's still a beehive of activity without the cave where Renalde and Keelie have been trapped, though the noise is kept to a minimum with many warnings to the snow pack above. This late an avalanche is UNLIKELY, but in Soviet Southern… Just an hour before the body of the poor Wildling who led the pair to the caves was uncovered. It leads to a grim crew working at double time. They know the pair within are alive, thanks to Keelie's connection to Gruffith. And they even have water, though food is much harder to come by.

Esanth lands in a flurry of wing-driven ice and snow, T'ral sliding down the blue's shoulder nearly before the stocky dragon has come fully to rest. The pair crunch forward, the wingleader and bonded alike in determination. Esanth rumbles a greeting at Gruffith and moves to stand close, sharing concern for those trapped within. He pauses briefly where the body of the guide being tended. The sight further steels his resolve and he moves forward, deaf to requests that he stay back. "What can we do?" He asks the crew leader. Esanth lifts his head from Gruffith and rumbles. He's ready to help.

Hunzak is there as part of a relief crew with another con under the supervision of a combination of a single guard and the miners, bundled as well as he can be and still work at digging through the fallen ice, rocks and other rubble covering the entrance. He and the other convict work in silence though the miners and others working alongside them speak in low tones to avoid another possible avalanche. When the blue dragon lands, he tucks his head between his shoulders to keep the flurry of ice and snow from finding its way into his hood and down the back of his neck but otherwise doesn't do more than briefly eye the rider that offers to help as well.

M'noq has been here so much, it's difficult to tell if he is taking any time out to eat or sleep. He has helped with the shift work, with even Ravaith helping to move aside the larger rocks, but too often he has been asked to step aside so that experts in this delicate skill can help, and he doesn't bring another rock slide down on them in his impatience. A salute is sent to his wingleader, though when he pauses, it's in quiet aside to his dragon. "Rav… can you have Gruffith check on them again? Can they hear us working? Are we getting louder?"

"I think we're almost through." That's the voice of the head miner over seeing the excavation. They're taking zero chances, and have been putting up the cave-support-thingies as they move rubble outwards. Riders, if you'll tell the lady," he's a respectful miner, okay? "Inside to start tapping against the wall? Give us a direction to move to."

Darkness. Keelie is so tired of darkness. She can hear the sounds of rocks being moved, and takes comfort in that, huddled up as she is, near the pile. Her hands itch to move stones, but she feels weak, and the last time she tried, they tumbled down on her. Gruffith outside is doing his part, fighting exhaustion (he hasn't slept since the initial cave-in) and is moving rocks gingerly, with his teeth. He sets down the latest boulder and grunts at Esanth as the blue lands. He seems to be stuck on a singular thought, which is shared with Ravaith as well: « We will get them out. » He relays the message to his rider, and responds. « They can hear us. We are loud. We will get them out. »

« The one with the handkerchief is not moving. My Keelie says he is breathing, but will not awaken. » Gruffith relays to the other dragons, and doesn't stop his moving of rocks.

The sound of tapping can be heard from deep within the cave. Like two stones being struck together.

Hunzak grunts in response to the head miner's comment and shifts forward a bit further to continue carefully moving rocks and ice away from where they are digging into the avalanche. Unable to hear the comments from the dragons, he simply keeps working at the direction of the ones in charge though from the expression on his face he's probably enjoying himself a bit more than everyone else. Is that impudence or is he just happy to be outside? It's anyone's guess.

T'ral spots M'noq's profile amidst the workers and makes a line towards the young man. T'ral has been here off and on, glad of M'noq's presence… though the young man is haggard-looking. "M'noq, when did you sleep last?" And where? T'ral looks around for shelter. It seems pretty clear that the young man is wearing hiself down to the nub. "Esanth'll let Rava- Did you hear that?" He blinks, eyes wide. A surge of hope stirs. "Esanth! Have them do it again." To Gruffith, « We heard ya! Do it again! » He stumbles forward in his excitement and begins moving rock and debris from the direction of the sound. Esanth's voice lets out a low croon, relaying Gruffith's message. It turns the bluerider's blood to dust. "What." He scrabbles at the rocks, digging more. "They were okay!" Denial!

"Wingleader." The head miner's voice lashes out as he steps forward and lays a hand on the bluerider's shoulder. "If you bring down the ceiling they could be trapped for even longer, and you'll put my men," THAT INCLUDES YOU HUNZAK, "at risk." His tone is sharp, but finally it lessens - he doesn't know what the dragons have shared. "Move slowly. Listen to the man," eyes flick around and settle on Hunzak, "Listen to Eight." That's right Hunzak, you just got deputized.

M'noq immediately feels heartened when he hears the tapping sound. Even though he knew Keelie and Renalde were inside and close, now he can actually hear it for himself. He steps back for a moment and wipes the dust and sweat from his brow with his (equally filthy) jacket sleeve, just in time for T'ral's arrival. "Um… I rested a little while ago." He actually has no idea when the last time he slept was. When exhaustion would force him to lie down, his mind wouldn't let him. "I think we're close to breaking through. We just need to move carefully enough that we don't bring more rock down." He has definitely come to respect the workers here who have experience in digging out.

Hunzak gets a bit jostled as the rider joins the excavating team and starts dragging rocks and debris out without care to whether or not it's stable to do so. Within the shelter of his hood the convict grits his teeth and suppresses that growl of annoyance before shifting slightly to one side, wishing that the head miner would rein this guy in before they all ended up like that wildling they'd already dug out. But then the head miner actually tells the rider — a wingleader, no less — to do what he says? His head jerks up and around with a narrow-eyed stare in the miner's direction, his expression clearly both confused and shocked. Swallowing hard, he dips his head slightly and turns back to the task at hand for a moment before reaching out to grasp T'ral's closest wrist. "Easy, boss … y' ain't gonna get 'em out no faster like that."

Respect for craft has little bearing on T'ral's immediate reaction. It's visceral. A punch in the gut. A surge of anger coiling around a spike of worry. He visibly reins himself in, snarling a mental message to Esanth, who has the grace to scrub it a bit before passing it along, « Keep him still. We come. » He yanks his arm free of Hunzak's grasp, growling, "Just tell me what to do." The rider is humming with the urge to tear down the wall of debris, restrained. Barely.

Slowly, the rocks shift. Probably too slowly for most to observe the difference, but just when it seems like this ALMOST THERE is going to go on forever, there's a tumble of rocks near the top of the pile, and rather then fall inward a small tumble falls inwards and darkness can be seen within. NOW it's time for the super delicate work, but within the cave there should be a tiny inpouring of light.

Hunzak seems to match that snarl T'ral sends his way as the man pulls his arm from the convict's relatively light grasp though his expression remains neutral, the only sign of his response a flicker in his flat blue eyes. Straightening to step forward and show the rider where to start, he lifts a hand to tap a rock but before he can say anything that tumble makes him pause and scramble back so he doesn't get buried as well. When that tumble reveals a dark opening, he nods and moves back into place once more. "Just be real careful … brush away the little bits and see if you can pull out a bigger one. Always start up high and work down … watch the stuff up top and see if it's gonna fall down," he murmurs to the rider before doing exactly that.

Gruffith would be more social (haha) and reassure the worried T'ral if he wasn't so focused on the task at hand. As it is, eyes are half lidded with exhaustion as the brown picks up the next rock. The tapping stops suddenly, and he drops it, grunting - his eyes, a constant yellow, whirl with a brighter streak. Keelie has set down her stones. She moves two feet in the darkness to check on Renalde's vital signs, pressing her ear to his chest. Still breathing. She nods slightly to the message from Esanth. And then — THERE'S LIGHT. Keelie's lips part and she almost faints with relief - breathing deeply of the fresh air that rushes in. "I see a light!" Maybe they can hear her too? Although her voice is pretty quiet, and hoarse. She coughs.

Someone, who knows who, works a little bit too fast. There's a crash of rock on one side, and a volunteer just to T'ral's right curses as a large stone falls and lands on his leg. Hopefully not broken, but no one is taking ANY CHANCES. Wait, is that a voice? Did anyone else hear Keelie's voice?

M'noq almost doesn't believe what he's seeing, when finally a window inside the cave appears. Ravaith croons encouragement to the other dragons, especially Gruffith, a wordless urging for patience. M'noq hears Keelie's voice, and he wants to tear apart that wall himself. "Keelie! We hear you! Be careful on your side, all right?" He's not even sure how big the opening has to be in order to get the two trapped out, but they seem close.

It's not personal, Hunzak. Clearly this rider has some vested interest in the folk trapped within, the way he stops and listens. Clears debris. Now focused, he works intently, carefully. Agile mind selecting the targets of his efforts. He straightens and looks at M'noq when Keelie's hoarse cry reaches them. He's about to bend himself back to work when someone close cries out. This T'ral can do. Trauma. Human, dragon. He's dealt with it all over the turns. "Go, go! He waves off the miners whose skills are better turned towards the extraction. "I gotcha. I gotcha." He moves off with the injured rescue worker and tends to him. Just as well he has something to take his mind off of his father lying pale and insensate inside the blackness of the cave. It will be some time before he can see and assess that situation. Whatever Renalde might have to say about it when he wakes… the Lord Warder will find himself at Southern when he comes to. If. No. Not if. WHEN. Dammit. A grim-faced T'ral sets to seeing one patient he feels confident he can help, eyes closing briefly in worry before snapping open to focus on the work ahead.

"M'noq?" The cave goes swirly again and Keelie thinks that maybe she is going to faint. But not right now. She sets her mouth in a determined line, her pale hands using the wall and some of the rocks for leverage as she tries to see through that hole. It's too high. It's a good thing she feels so weak, or she might try to climb. "M'noq!" More coughing. Gruffith is just about beside himself in his excitement, and can't seem to make up his mind which rock to choose next. He croons at the cave, at his Keelie, back at Ravaith - not a noise he usually makes. He's usually more of a grunter.

Hunzak works carefully alongside the rider until that stone comes tumbling down on the worker to the other side of the man, nodding as the man starts working more methodically. Maybe he won't get killed on this job after all. When the rider moves to tend the injured worker, he takes over where T'ral was clearing though he pauses at the sound of that hoarse voice coming from that small opening. The sounds that the dragon makes draws his attention, the excitement of the beast clear even to someone without experience of Pern's defenders. However, it's that very excitement that makes the convict edge away warily, not at all wanting to get stepped on or snapped at even by accident.

After T'ral and the injured miner are out of the way, the work continues quickly. There's a renewed sense of purpose that comes from hearing Keelie's voice. "Rider!" That's the master miner, "Stay back." At least until they get the hole open wide enough so that if someone was to stick their hands in they could haul the rider out. The hole will have to be a great dealer bigger for the comatose Lord Warder to be extracted, but for now, at least Keelie could escape.

"Want I should climb in there, boss?" Hunzak asks as he pulls out as many loose rocks and ice chunks as he's able. "Looks steady 'nough to a'least get the girl out." His voice is low and gravelly, his Turns in the mines taking their toll on him. He looks toward the head miner expectantly since he and his fellow convict are the most expendable of those gathered here already — and he's actually smaller than the other since he's been incarcerated a lot longer.

A hesitation on the part of the miner, though less because of convict-trust issues, and more because he's eying the integrity of that hole. "Aye. So long as someone's on this side to steady her." A glance over at M'noq, an assumption made.

(Inside the cave, Renalde's just going to stay comatose. So I can say I posed him once.)

Ravaith snorts softly at Gruffith's reactions, his mindvoice sensed by the dragons nearby. « Stay calm. Do not let your ocean girl panic. » M'noq is keeping an eye on the assisting dragons as well, even as he assists in moving clear the loose rocks. He looks up as he realizes they're talking about going inside. "Sure, anything you need me to do." He knows the miners are the experts around here. "Are you going to be able to get the Lord Warder out that way too? It sounds like he might be… unable to climb out himself?" He doesn't want to make any assumptions about the man's condition.

Hunzak glances toward the other that seems to have been there every time the convicts had been brought to relieve the diggers, nodding slightly in understanding before looking toward the slight incline he'll be traversing. Finding a good foot hold, he reaches up to work the fingers of his gloves into the snow that is packed in around the rocks and ice chunks before carefully pulling himself upward. The cleats they'd been given to make it easier to walk making it just as easy to keep a grip with his feet so he just has to worry about his hands for now. "Dunno, boss … we'll havta see once I trade places with the girl," he grunts softly as he works his way up the few feet to that hole. Peering in, he has to wait for his eyes to adjust, he frowns at the gloom and just barely makes out the pale face of Keelie though he doesn't know her name. "C'n y' climb up 'ere?" he asks as he shoves himself upward a bit more so he can lean into that hole. A few rocks and some snow and ice fall inward but for the most part the wall stays mostly secure.

Keelie blinks at the gravely voice that suddenly isn't M'noq's. She steps back from the wall of rocks, and goes to check Renalde again, ready to shield him from any that might fall. But they don't. And then that strange man is peering down at her, and she's squinting at him. Without thinking, she nods her head, and moves to start to climb. Her face sets with determination, as it's a lot harder than it should be, but she's determined to do it. SHE'S A DRAGONRIDER. AND A WILDLING. AND SHE WANTS THE HELL OUT OF THIS CAVE. She sends a long last glance at Renalde over her shoulder before reaching up unsteadily for the man. Her pretty face is streaked with dirt, her eyes squinty.

(Renalde's still passed out.)

M'noq tries very hard to stay clear of the work, so he doesn't nudge any rock or trigger any fall, while staying close enough to give Keelie a hand through. "Careful, careful," he mutters to himself, knowing the workers are thinking the same thing. Then he sees a flash of dust-covered red hair through the opening in the rock, and he grins. "Keelie! You're almost out, hang in there!" Her squinty, dirt-streaked face is the prettiest he has ever seen.

When Keelie manages to climb up to where she can reach up for him, he strips his gloves off and tucks them into the front of his overcoat where the hood gapes at his throat. Bare handed, his fingers are chilled but at least he can grip the girl's arm more securely as he hauls her upward so that he can hook his free hand under what he hopes is the waist of her pants rather than the seat. Just what he doesn't need is to be accused of groping the female he's trying to help out of a hole in the ground. Slithering backwards as he keeps a tight grip on Keelie's arm and other anatomy, he finally gets to where he can fasten his cleats a bit more securely into the rocks and ice of the outside of the hole. "Grab roun m' neck and swing y'r legs out, yeah?" He grunts softly as he wedges a knee into a faint crevice so that he can hold his balance and steady the girl at the same time.

Keelie spots M'noq in the window beside the man she's reaching for and appears momentarily stunned. She starts to look like she's reaching for him instead, but before it's too obvious, Hunzak has her gripped pretty good around the arm, and is hauling her out. Where Hunzak has grabbed her - she really doesn't care. Even when she swings her legs as directed, her brown eyes never leave M'noq's equally dirty face.

In the light moving inwards from without, even blocked as it is, Renalde's limp form is slumped against a wall. Effort has been made to try to get him sitting up and he's as wrapped up as possible. But his breathing is shallow, and his skin is a pale that isn't in any way a good idea. After Keelie's out others move in, and between them they retrieve the Lord Warder. Out of that hole they don't keep him very long, because T'ral is going to take posession of Renalde's form and get OUT of there post haste. Assumption, Keelie's got her OWN wings.

M'noq waits until enough of Keelie is free of the window in the rock wall, then reaches up and assists in guiding her to the ground. He sweeps her into a tight hug, however sore and tired his body is from moving rocks for days, he is strong enough to hold her. Sure, there's a dozen or two workers standing around, but that doesn't stop him from kissing her soundly, and muttering into her hair, "No more caves, all right?" Even if T'ral leaves them in favor of taking Renalde back to the Weyr, M'noq will make sure Keelie gets home.

Hunzak grunts softly as Keelie swings her legs down and he has to contort himself a little to let her swing down in the other rider's direction so that the man can help her down the short drop before jumping down himself to set to clearing the rest of the debris in short order. Once the Lord Warder gets carried out and then carried off by that bluerider, the convict fishes his gloves out of his jacket to pull back on and tucks his hands under his arms to get them warm again. He and his fellow con hunch patiently to one side, their guard doing what he's supposed to while the miners gather up their gear and the whole group gets ready to make their way back to the Hold.


Part I
Part II

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