Divale, Iandicael, Talya


What happens when two Candidates and Divale end up in a swamp…


It is afternoon of the twenty-eighth day of the sixth month of the thirteenth turn of the 12th pass.


Tidal Swamp, Igen

OOC Date 18 Mar 2018 04:00



Tidal Swamp

Mud, muck, creatures and insects lurking unseen on, in, and above the water in twisted, moss-draped trees - the quintessential swamp exists in all its dark, damp glory all around the hold in its midst. Even so, the water is not entirely stagnant here; the ebb and flow of the river keeps things moving, and no growth (except for the ancient, gnarled trees) is ever permanent. For all it is a swamp, there is a subtle beauty to this verdant, humid area. Once you get past the vtols.

What could be worse than another hot, blistering summer afternoon in Igen? One spent here. And yet, in this fresh Hell do some (un)fortunate Candidates find themselves in. How did this come to pass? Easy enough! They were the (un)lucky lot who got picked by a passing Wingsecond as a “shadow a rider” deal. Time to see how wondrous and glorious it is, right? Adventure! Thrills! … oh Faranth no, it isn’t. Not this day! Not with her. Divale was saddled not only with the task of being an “example”, but she had a duty to bring the Guard Captain to the Faranth forsaken hovel— err, Vtol Swamp Hold! Because sometimes letters and the more conventional means are not enough. And why bother killing yourself traveling the desert when you can use an over glorified taxi? On arrival, things appeared “thrilling” enough. Brief tour, explanations of how they eek out a living here, blah and so on. Until it was obvious they were tasked with waiting! And Divale’s not exactly the most… sunshine and happiest of riders for company. However, she is strangely eager to agree to one of the Hold’s staffs offer to venture into the swamps to collect on a particular harvest. The hold has seen a very good Turn and well. Idle hands, right? So off the Candidates are ushered… into a (safe!) swamp. IN SUMMER! Watched carefully, of course, by locals and said Wingsecond. Though Divale is currently perched on a curled root of a very large, gnarled tree like the nasty Rusalka of Terran myth she is. “I don’t see you moving, Candidate…” Comes a dry, almost sing-songed warning, while she enjoys her “duty” of babysitt—err, guarding. Overseeing? Never mind.

Shockingly, Iandicael isn't the sort of man who does well in the swamps. Igen's deserts and the underground are his domains, but while sand may stick to your skin and get everywhere, it's not… this. Whatever this is. Massive though he may be, Iandicael moves as though he expects the ground (is that ground??) beneath his feet to rise up and consume him at any moment. His long legs may grant him some aid in avoiding actually touching the swampy mess, but there are only so many roots one can climb over before the next is out of reach. "This is useless," he announces as he balances on a root, edging toward the trunk of a tree for better balance. "They're laughing at us." A sharp glance goes toward Divale, because he's pretty damn sure that she's laughing at them, too.

This is the payback for getting free tea and light dinner the other day, isn't it? Talya seemed to be rather eager to shadow Divale after their brief introduction, perhaps hoping it was the type of shadowing that broke rules and set them loose somewhere. You know, not actual productive and boring work. She's at least dressed for the swamp in fitted pants (none of thos baggy hand me downs she 'borrows' from other people) and a loose fitting top that is breezy enough in the hot weather. Her hair has been pulled up off her neck and face, the humidity of the location not a problem (being from Southern). But the swampy mud? Squeeelch. The sounds she makes with the mud sticking to her books makes her take extra careful steps. "Of course they're laughing at us," she says to Iandicael. "It's like candidates are designed for the worst slave labor they can imagine. They only get this opportunity a few times a Turn." If that. She holds a small sack for their harvest, stopping to stare back at the brownrider. "You think they actually expect us to bring anything back?"

Divale IS laughing but somewhere deep, deep down, on the inside because her outward expression is neutral. One could mistake it as bored, perhaps! Only she’s not got that vacant look to her gaze, which remains sharp and focused where she stands. “Harvesting and gathering can be vital to a Hold’s survival,” she replies, almost by rote from an earlier lecture. Wasn’t he listening? “And the Weyr benefits in the end too. Where do you think our tithes come from? Thin air?” Perhaps Talya is learning a hard lesson too about “owing” but that’s not the case here, either. They both just got the worst luck having Divale as someone to shadow. That’s pretty much it! Alas, she IS a rule breaker, but just much more subtler and quiet about it. Risking Candidates (okay so this is pushing it)? Not on her list of ‘Things to make my Wingleader and Weyrleader want to strangle me’. “That would depend?” Divale turns her focus briefly to Talya. “They may expect a cut or they will allow us this bounty to go back to the Weyr as a token. Perhaps they will offer you both refreshment for the work you’ve done! Difficult to say.” She doesn’t counter the young woman’s comments though!

And has no one asked why the hold is named like it is? Or picked up on that undercurrent of constant buzzing going on? There seems to be a gradual increase too, what with the activity in the swamps. Mmm. Warm bodies!

Listening doesn't mean Iandicael cares. "They could move," he suggests in a low growl, wobbling on his perch. Long limbs do allow him longer strides, yes, but it also means that he has a great deal more body to balance. What grace is afforded to him in his usual movements is less obvious here, as he digs his fingernails in the the bark of a tree trunk and holds on. He's not going to be the first to end up covered in swamp muck from head to toe. "I don't think it's about labor," he grunts to Talya, still unmoving. Consider this his scouting post. "It's about breaking spirits." He tilts his head, catching wind of the buzzing, but he'd rather not consider what the cause might be in a place like this. Better to just… ignore it and go back to scowling at his surroundings.

"I thought we were to shadow a dragonrider to learn what it is like to be a rider, not learn how to be a Holder," Talya calls back bravely to Divale. She hops down from a root she was carefully stepping up and over, splashing some mud everywhere. A little bit more watery here than behind them. "Ugh," comes her reaction, not all too concerned about how much she sinks into it or how dirty her boots are (yet). "Move away from this bountiful swamp that provides plenty of… uh…" Talya is at a loss there. If she actually paid attention to the lecture and what they should be harvesting, that would be a miracle. "Why would they do that?" she finishes lamely. She makes sure to stick near Iandicael, unfortunately believing him to be the more productive one. "Do you see anything?" she calls back to the taller man. She lifts a foot out from the deeper mud, stopping just before setting a step down. Oh, she hears the buzzing. Her eyes narrowing as she looks around. They'll go for the tall candidates first, right?

“Afraid to get dirty?” Divale’s dry comment is for Iandicael and his trunk-hugging ways, after her scoff to his suggestion that the holders move. No comment! Her smirk, thought, speaks more of the ‘get to work’ vein. She won’t loom over him or twist his arm — yet. It’s not like she’s leading by example, here! Talya’s boldness earns not a scolding but a low throated chuckle that is as shadowed as the very ones the brownrider is cloaked in. “This is part of being a rider! We are sometimes put to tasks outside of our usual duties. I could have ignored their offer or politely turned them down and waited idly for the Captain. Or!” And she holds up a finger here. “I could agree if it’s within my abilities and improve relations by a small deed.” Ignoring the buzzing won’t help. Vtol Swamp Hold is aptly named and as the minutes tick by, the more of the pests show up. They do seem to enjoy Iandicael (or maybe it’s the tree to which he’s stuck on), but Talya won’t be spared either. They start as a few, here and there. Not really biting (yet) but damn they’re annoying! Strangely (suspiciously), Divale doesn’t seem as harassed.

Hopefully they'll go for the sweet candidates, and that's definitely not Iandicael. The man looks faintly smug as Talya ends up near him, especially given Divale's remarks. He knows very well that he's not going to accomplish much from this perch, but he does at least glance around the area, searching. "No," he grunts, then adds, "But I'm not sure what I'm looking for. Will it just be out in the open? Do we have to look under…" He looks disgusted by the very thought of looking under anything out here. "This isn't dirt, I don't even know what this is." Sludge. Slime. Things he in no way wants upon his person. A dark scowl fixes on Divale as she explains her reasoning, one hand lifting as she speaks to swat at thos damned vtols.

Talya snorts at the brownrider's reply, shaking her head as well. Nope, she is not believing that one bit right about now. "Within /your/ abilities to use candidate labor, you mean." One has to wonder if the rider would have agreed so readily if she didn't have a few white-knots following along with her. If Iandicael is hoping that Talya is sweet enough for the vtols, he would be disappointed. "They wouldn't just send us out here to collect things if it was easy, right?" she snorts and makes a hurry up motion to the other candidate, starting to give those gathering bugs an anxious look. They're not spiders, but she's ready to swat them with her sack. And then she lifts her feet from the mud one at a time, a soft pop each time, to turn around and face the other candidate with a scowl. "Come on then, you better help or I hope those vtols start eating you alive." Probably better to have kept her mouth shut since luck would have it that they start biting, right?

Damn it. Would anyone notice if only Iandicael returned? Divale seems to fix Talya with a look, but when a vague smile does quirk up, it’s bemused. “Idle hands!” is all she retorts with, while idly waving one of her own. Details, details! She’ll leave both Candidates to flounder a little longer before breathing a long suffering sigh under her breath. “You’re looking for groundnut, sweetflag and milkweed, you two!” Sigh. “The first is an alternative food to tubers, so yes you need to look at the actual ground to find it. Sweetflag is a reed and milkweed also grows with it but not so close to pools of water.” she explains, as if they should KNOW THIS! Didn’t the holders give them a rundown? Surely that’s how Divale has her knowledge. Right? Right. And look! She IS helping! Or at least coming out from her perch. As for the vtols? They are getting worse. For them! Divale doesn’t seem bothered in the least. Natural repellent?

"Your hands are idle," Iandicael points out, his dark tone rough with annoyance. In the hopes of moving past the vtols, the man reluctantly abandons his current perch in search of slightly lower ground. He pauses there, however, when Talya chastizes him. The furrow between his brows deepens into a scowl that's touched by rage as he watches the girl, refusing now to budge an inch. "I'll take the one away from the water." Less likely to attract vtols, right? And it means he evades the potential dangers of tumbling into the swampy mess, if he's lucky. "Enjoy looking on the ground." His tone is hard, her 'threat' bringing his temper face closer to the surface. Growling, he swats at another vtol. "I wonder how the Weyr would feel about a rider bringing candidates out here without protection from vtols when she has some herself."

If they noticed one less candidate, would they care… is the real question, considering who may be left behind. Talya makes sure to provide Divale with wide innocent eyes at that look that does not really work well with the smirk growing on her face. Her smirk only grows more amused by Iandicael's anger. "And here I thought we were working as a team." She shakes her head as he decides to choose a different route. But she is not giving up that easily. "Do you even know what milkweed looks like?" She swipes the air with the empty sack, which they are supposed to be filling likely with the tubers, and gives the ground around them a stomp, closing the distance between her and Iandicael. If some of the mud goes flying his way, well… lucky her. "You pluck, I swat the bugs." See, teamwork. There's a firm SLAP! because one finally landed on her, and she wouldn't dare even let it take a taste from her.

Divale levels Iandicael with a look as though she’d prefer to throw daggers (or flip him off) but she keeps her composure despite feeling slightly at her wits end from the humidity — even out here, it’s not that bearable. “Just be thankful I am not requesting you to find me some Virgin’s Bower… even if I think it’d be fitting for you.” she tosses to Iandicael’s retreating form. Seeing that Talya is going to join him, the brownrider looks vaguely disappointed. What? No one wants the easy (delicious to eat and more healthy!) to harvest groundnut? Fiiiiiine. “I have no idea why the vtols are so interested in you!” Divale’s going to feign innocence here, while she skillfully walks among the mire to follow the Candidates. “Perhaps they’re attracted to the sweet smell of potential in young Candidates?” Uh huh. A low, dark chuckle as she takes a few steps ahead of them and promptly crouches to snatch up a small handful of reed-like plants with distinctive inner colouring. Roots and all! “Sweetflag,” SEE, Ian? She’ll make sure to all but shove it at him. “Reed is useless. The root? Medicinal. Also known to be a repellent.” Yeah but in what form? NO explanation! But she will gesture for them to get to work collecting and those vtols will gradually float off the more those plants are gathered up. Still there and sneaking in for reminders, but far less! No Candidates are carried off this time as sacrifice.

Iandicael seems to find some pleasure in the look Divale gives him, satisfaction set of his lips even if his glower never listens. Is that the faint hint of pink to his cheeks for the accusation she levels in his direction? It's hard to tell, when it's hot and muggy and there's already plenty of reason for one to be red in the face. "I don't believe that for a moment," he grumbles of her professed innocence, the words more an aside to Talya than meant for the brownrider's ears. His gaze narrows slightly at the mention of teamwork, but he doesn't make any outright attempts to deter the other candidate from her plan. He's swatting again at another vtol when Divale shoves that plant into his chest, and he just manages a fumbling catch of the uprooted plant, flinching at the contact. Dirt is on his hands. A few choice words leave his lips, but they're uttered under his breath. Even the slow departure of the vtols as they begin to gather does little for his humor, because he's still covered in filth. Dragonriders are the worst.

Talya is here to make the miserable even more miserable, if she can. She's going to try at least, since it helps her own misery. Divale's words seem to catch her attention, her eyes moving back in that direction and squinting at her suspiciously. She nods to Iandicael's words, even if the brownrider doesn't catch them. She does say, more loudly for the rider's ears, "It's almost as if you knew we'd be heading to the swamp way before we were asked. Perhaps made sure to be better prepared." The plant shoved at the taller candidate gets her attention. "Here, give me that." To shove into the sack, right? There's another loud smack, and a curse, and she trudges her way closer. Thankfully she manages to find some more of those reeds on their way, fortunately for her, and hoards them for herself. They may come back just with a third of what they're supposed to be harvesting.

If anyone hoards the reeds, Divale won’t tell! Talya’s boldness earns her a similar stare as she gave Iandicael earlier. She’s starting to like the young girl! Iandicael is proving to be entertaining in his own way too, but is disliked by default (and shamelessly) for his gender. “Believe whatever you want to believe,” she mutters with a small, darkly smug smirk. Who’re going to believe two grumbling Candidates? Glancing between the two of them, she yields nothing in her defence. Poor Iandicael and Talya will toil for a little longer before mercy is given and Divale calls off their gathering. She’ll be adding a few plants to round off what was collected (and a few unseen to line her own pockets, but who’ll miss a few berries or blossoms?) and then it’s back to the hold! Where she’ll meet with the Captain and load Lukoith’s straps. The Candidate’s fate? They’ll be thanked and given refreshments after they’ve been offered a way to clean up (at least the worst of it). So was it really that bad? Huh?

Yes. It was absolutely that bad. At least that's what Iandicael's face seems to say, and it will continue to say that until he can cleanse himself of grime and escape this humid hellscape. "I don't think it's almost like that at all." That's definitely what happened, and if the venomous stare he levels in Divale's direction is any indication, he's not likely to forget about it any time soon. As if he didn't already have ill feelings about the woman for the crate incident. Despite his continued grumbling and the fact that he seems repulsed by the very existence of dirt, he does continue to yank up those plants until they're finally called off — he'll even do most of the dirty work and leave Talya to handle the bag if she's so inclined. Total gentleman, this one.

Talya could have had a worse time, but thankfully the reeds helped keep the vtols at bay and she's only got a few bites from the beginning. If Divale wants to poke fun at the taller of the candidates more than her, at least she has plenty of entertainment to snicker about later. The mud and the dirt doesn't seem to bother her as much as the other candidate. "Gotta learn to get dirty for the dragonriding business," Talya happily notes to Iandicael. So at least he maybe learned that lesson. Or started to learn to deal with the grime. There is no complaint from her in having to manage the load, the weight not much of an issue even if her shorter limbs has the thing almost dragging on the ground sometimes. The harvest is good, and if there's more sweetflag in it… well, that's just what seemed to be the most useful out there. Too bad for the taller of the candidates and the bugs. There was no way she was giving up her bag to him even if he did want to be polite.

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