T'ral, Kultir, Dione, Esanth


T'ral and Candidates Kultir and Dione head up to the Ice Fields to get a slab of ice for Bailey.


It is afternoon of the twenty-second day of the twelfth month of the first turn of the 12th pass.


Southern Mountains

OOC Date


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Ice Fields

The air is fine and crisp and sharp and spare, threatening to vanish within the lungs of those who risk such altitude. Vast and sprawling lies the ice shelf of the Southern continent, bleak as far as the sharpest of eyes can see. Here there is meddling by mortal forces, a road ice-cut and gravel-trod from the mountain pass below to the looming caves ahead.

It is the twenty-second day of Summer and 21 degrees. It's cold and bright.

The ice fields stretch out, roads and byways hacked into the living ice, drifts of snow skirling across the bright expanses winking with Rukbat's rays. Atop a cliff, from Esanth's neck, T'ral shades his be-goggled eyes and looks out and down over the fields. The bluerider signals his passengers -Candidates, one forward and one back- and points, 'There.' Some more signing, 'Short hop and then dismount.' He awaits taps of acknowledgement and then they all move out. Cold, not quite the killing cold of Esanth's 'scape, but frigid none the less, are the drafts that the blue dragon launches into. His wing-assisted hop and flurried landing onto an ice quarry worked by a few heavily bundled soon-to-be Holders. The rider gives his passengers three quick taps when they're on the ground, a signal to unclip and dismount, following that instruction quickly himself. A howling wind, like Khalyssrielth's displeasure (or, possibly her pleasure) shrieks across clefts hewn into the ice.

Kultir watches as T'ral points out where they are going to and taps him to indicate his own readiness for the short flight to the quarry. Bundled as he is in several layers of furs, he doesn't move much without an effort but it's worth it to be out of the Weyr for a short time. His features are completely obscured by the furs swathing his bulk, the goggles over his eyes and the scarf pulled up over his nose to keep his face warm. The only way to tell who he is, is from how easily he moves on the ice (lots of practice) and the stray strands of sandy brown hair escaping from the edges of his hood.

It never fails to amaze Dione that some people willingly submit themselves to these temperatures. The vista is pretty, and it looks fluffy and scintillating by turns, but that's nothing against the biting cold that, even through her warm gear, bites at her as much as the unfamiliar snow-goggles. Nodding to T'ral as he taps her to scoot off, she does so, giving a hop-hop that sees her on the ground, just in time for her to stop her feet from slipping on a patch of black ice. Esanth's foreleg is used to keep her upright, and she muffles a curse.

The dragon's head slews around, opposite his leg from Dione, there are lots of things to catch onto now if she needs a handhold. Headknobs. Browridges. Heck she could grab his lip or a tooth if she needed to. The dragon rumbles, a plume of heated air flowing away as he regards T'ral and the tracker and His Candidate. A pack is released from the straps and T'ral shoulders it, waving the others to follow. Esanth treads along behind, snuffling in the footprints of the humans ahead of him and peering back to look at his own tracks. There's a curious crunching sound as Esanth's path begins to become strangely wobbling and serpentine as he tries to step in his own footprints, wings fluttering and tail lashing, wiping nearly all of their tracks clean with wide arcs. It's hard to make ANYTHING out through all the thick layers of extra clothes, but T'ral's skyward 'Why Me' glance and subsequent wilt as he trudges ahead is unmistakeable. He speaks briefly with a foreman, indicating himself and the two candidates and then the three of them -four, counting their drunk seeming giant blue shadow- to a neatly hacked wall of ice. T'ral carefully lowers his mask and hollers to be heard over the howling wind, "All right. So there," he gestures with a mittened hand, "Is our slab. We're gonna take turns hacking it free." He points at Kultir, then Dione, then himself. And gives a 'go' sign.

Kultir descends the blue's side and immediately bends to strap on the ice cleats he carries to the bottoms of his boots. That little extra bit of traction makes it easier for him to walk and follows the bluerider toward the quarry. He waits patiently as the older man speaks to the foreman but since his attention was on the ground as they walked, he missed the antics of the blue bringing up the rear of their small group. He laughs softly behind the masking scarf but nods exaggeratedly at the rider when the iceface is indicated. Hefting the axe, he moves to the slab and weilds the axe easily despite the thick layers of clothing he's wearing. Ice chips fly away from each impact of the axe as the tracker chops away at the ice slab as readily as he does at the logs back in Southern Weyr.

"Thanks, Esanth," Dione mutters as she reels up straight, trying to balance on the funny snow-shoes. It's clear to see that she's a tropical girl, and being a ball of fur will set anyone back. Stamping once, then twice, she turns to wander in the others' tracks, keeping to the narrow path that's already being beaten open. There's a giggle at Esanth's wiggle, and her steps smooth a little but, until she's standing next to the two men, puffing little clouds of vapour into the air in defiance of the wind. The work'll warm her up, but still. "How big a chunk are you thinking of taking back?" she calls back, straining to make herself heard. "Shall I lay out the ropes and stuff now, so we can just slide it on there when we're done hacking?" That way they don't have to strain to lift it into the harness later on. There is a moment spent in aesthetic admiration of the easy way in which Kultir starts chopping, and a slight worry about her own performance.

T'ral watches Kultir lay into the ice for a moment and then satisfied that they may not even have to take a turn -Kultir the ice-a-matic- then nods to Dione. He's got a set of spikes that they can affix to the ropes, cleats that will catch and grab the block once it's free. Esanth's talons were more than sufficient to hold the slab, but precautions were there for a reason. He tosses a coil of rope at Dione's feet and begins mitten-fumbling one of his own free of its coils.

Kultir is so used to this sort of hard work that the young man only has to stop a few times to catch his breath, the cold making it more difficult to breathe before his muscles give out on the chopping. When he stops, his hands cup around his scarfed mouth and nose as he bends over a bit, his exhales billowing out around his goggled eyes before he pulls his hands away. That habit has a dual effect of warming the air going into his lungs and warms his hands a bit as well. In the third pause, he offers the axe to one of the other two but is not surprised or disappointed that neither really wish to take it. Besides, he's having fun!

Dione is shivering too much at the thought of holding onto the ice with her fingernails to expect it of Esanth. Grabbing the coil of rope that T'ral tosses, she starts laying it out on the ice. The nest that forms isn't that big, perhaps a metre by a metre, before she stands back to watch Kultir go at it. "You know," she asides to T'ral, ducking ice-chips and watching with wide eyes. "He's kind of good at this." Still… she's a Candidate. So, only fair she has a turn, right? Eventually she taps the hunter on the shoulder and wiggles a hand for the axe.

There are more spikes to affix to the ropes, and T'ral is crouched, glowering at his mittens and working… very… deliberately. At Dione's observation he looks up at the speed-hacking tracker and almost calls 'Save some for us,' but thinks better of it. He nods to himself as Dione takes her turn, directing Kultir with a gesture of his hand to pick up crimping cleats onto the ropes at intervals. Esanth ambles over, lifting his muzzle to test the air and rumbling. He goes down in a heap, making a windbreak of himself, and little twists of ice and wind-driven snow drift up over his windward side, drifting down his lee and melting almost immediately on a hide warmed by a heart as big as all Pern. His tail drifts back and forth in the snow, describing a wedge shape. Just how big WOULD a dragon snow angel be?

When Kultir is tapped during one of his pauses, he hands the axe off to Dione with a nod. Bending close, he tugs his scarf down so that he can make himself heard. "Let me know when you're ready to quit. Ice is harder than trees." With another nod, he tucks his scarf back beneath the edge of his goggles and moves to assist T'ral with attaching those crimping cleats onto the rope at intervals. His thick gloves make it difficult to work with the small spikes so the young tracker pulls off the thick outer mittens to reveal his inner fur-lined gloves that still keep his hands protected from the cold but are much more flexible. He grins at the blue behind his masking scarf, a nod of gratitude going toward the dragon as the bitter wind is mostly cut by the big bulk.

Dione doesn't chop anywhere near as vigorously, and she's not had the experience at working in a bundle of furs. Eyeing the large chasm already chopped, she focuses on the stretch still to be done. Tentatively, very much so, she starts chopping with the strange axe, until she's pretty much going full speed and still only going between a quarter to halfway as fast as the hunter did. Pretty soon she's warm enough to start moving a little more comfortably, and she glares at the dense wall like an angry chipmunk. "Take… that…" she pants as she chops and chops, ignoring the guys behind her. Soo much different from chopping up pickles for drinks.

There must be some secret fault in the ice because as Dione utters 'that' there's a groan and a creaking and then a loud and ominous CRACK! The great block shifts alarmingly and T'ral starts up, ropes falling from be-mittened hands. He slips, skidding a bit as he comes upright, foot spikes not biting with the haste he'd used to lurch Dione-ward. But the slab is settled. It seems. It's not poised anywhere precarious, right? The ground underneath it totally stable. Surely. The foreman wouldn't have directed CANDIDATES to a dangerous work area. No.

At the sound of that cracking ice, Kultir immediately pushes up to his feet and is moving toward Dione before he really knows what is going on. The cleats on his boots making it easy for him to move, even on the ice. He sighs with relief as he sees the slab is stable and the young woman isn't in danger of getting crushed by the partial slab.

"Yieeek!" Dione utters the high sound as the slap starts to slip, and dives to the side just in case. Luckily for everyone, the axe flies at the wall as she loses her grip on the handle, and the momentum with which she sprang sees her sprawling and sliding butt-first towards the side. In the distance, the holders are laughing their butts off. Up close, she's fuming and red-cheeked — luckily she can pass that off as exposure as she scrabbles up straight. "Someone else'll have to pry it out," she mutters, embarrassed.

Esanth heaves himself up, having really just settled and peers at the slab, at Dione, at the slab. He makes a grinding sound deep in his chest that shivers out through barely parted jaws. He takes a step forward, eyes narrowed at the slab that CLEARLY sent His Candidate sprawling. He growls and plants a talon on the upward edge and pulls, easily tipping over the one-ton block of ice. 'Take THAT,' says Esanth's talons. "Easy," T'ral moves up to Esanth's foreleg, "Kultir, get the ropes in place," he scarpers over to Dione, skidding a bit himself and fixes a look at the laughing Holders. It's not visible through his goggles, but that posture is, head lowered and shoulders squared. 'Back Up Off My Candidates.' He watches until they turn back to their business and then offers Dione a hand up. Esanth, for his part is "helping" Kultir, by poke-poke-poking the rope with his talons. He rumbles at Kultir. See. Helping.

The young woman picks herself up with the help of T'ral's hand, still steaming a little. It'll keep her warm at least! "Thank you," she mumbles as she dusts her side and butt off, getting in a little glare of her own before going to help Kultir knot the ropes. Once that's done, she scoots up Esanth's side if he'll let her, and droops a bit in her seat — tiiired, or at least her arms. She'll be quiet on the flight back to, and pick herself up in warmer weather.

Kultir stops as T'ral gets to Dione's side before the tracker manages it and nods at the order to rope the slab up. Draping those ropes over the slab of ice and tying the ends off securely. The blue gets a few headshakes and sighs of suppressed amusement as that poking talon gets in his way once in a while. Eventually the slab is roped up and ready for transport.

Strapped up, checked, cleats driven in where simply rolling the slab didn't suffice to make them bite - the slab is ready to go. T'ral clambers up behind Dione, checks her straps, secures himself and then waves Kultir up. In no time, the quartet is ready to return home to balmy Southern with a gift from the Candidate class for the Clutchmother's bonded. A bribe? No. NO. Maybe?

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