Happy Hunting

Characters Kate, Oddisa, R'sner
Synopsis The weyrlings get to hunt for the first time
Out-of-Character Date March 19, 2020

Igen Weyr - Feeding Ground
Kept lush and green by the pipes that supply water to the Weyr, the feeding grounds are a flat expanse of verdancy in an otherwise dry bowl. Near the far end of the field, the shallow lake is also kept from disappearing in the dry season by the same feat of engineering. The fence portions off a part of the lake to provide water for the needs of the herdbeasts and wherries penned within. With a fair number of creatures kept on hand for the dragons' meals, the feeding grounds are at best, a noisy place. Within the high fencing -- nearly eight feet high -- the occasional gate allows people to enter, but keeps the animals safely within the perimeter. A darkened entrance in the Bowl wall can be seen, leading into the cavern pens that provide shelter from the infrequent rain and the heat of the day. Certainly the feeding grounds are large enough, providing plenty of space in the herds and flocks. Wherries mill among the grazing herdbeasts, snapping at VTOLs, trundlebugs and other creatures disturbed by bovine hooves.

Winter - Month 11 of Turn 2724

Now that the weyrlings are flying, the next milestone is swiftly approaching. That wonderful moment in which the dragons can start feeding themselves and their humans are no longer required to cut up meat on the daily! Assuming, of course, that everyone manages to pass this particular lesson. All day, R'sner has been taking the weyrlings out in groups of two's to the feeding grounds. The herdbeasts likely do not appreciate the stress but… well. This is their lot in life. And now Toith is reaching out, calling Oriapeth and Xinieth to the paddock, where she and R'sner are waiting.

Oriapeth's not particularly excited for this lesson, she's not yet seen any reason for Oddisa to stop cutting up her food. Entering the feeding grounds, there's the care taken to stand near R'sner and Toith but keep the large, looming form of Oriapeth from spooking the beasts. Ori's all wings and feet at the moment, both having grown overnight and made her clumsy yet again, barging forward, she knocks into her lifemate several times before settling herself with head jutting out over top the blonde's. «Can we pick out our own or are they assigned? I want to pick mine if I have to kill it.» Already being a tad pushy, mental stars overshadowing her mind and forcing heat into each word. STill, she manages a gentle rumble to Xinieth and a playful bow towards Toith, amused as always by the world at large. "Sir, Toith. Let's do this." Leaning back casually against the chestnut chest, one hand splayed out lovingly.

Xinieth is excited for this lesson, not overly so or as much as some might be, but excited none the less as she and Kate arrive to stand and await the instructions that will come. « I just want to eat it. » Xinieth counter's her sister's wish of choosing while the blonde sends a salute towards R'sner before flashing a grin in Oddisa's direction.

Hopefully Oddisa can explain it to her, because R'sner isn't going to. But whether Oriapeth understands the necessity of this lesson or not, the fact remains that tomorrow morning there will be no more meat in the barracks. So either the dragons can kill their own, or the human-half will have to do it for them. Good luck. « Th'r no' assigned, » confirms Toith. « Y' catch whatever y' can catch. » But not just yet. R'sner glances at each weyrling as they arrive, greeting them with a nod of his head to acknowledge their presence. "Hunting is a skill that takes a bit of practice to perfect," he begins. "But much like flying, it's something the dragons are made to do. My rules for this lesson are rather simple: only one dragon goes at a time, and only one kill is to be made each turn. Your job," he decides, turning toward Kate and Oddisa, "Is to keep tabs on how they are feeling and to make sure they do not over indulge. Toith will make a quick demonstration of the basics, but before we begin, are there any questions of concerns?"

If Oriapeth had hands she'd be raising hers but Oddisa gives her a hard glance, "Shhh or you'll be a Weyrling along with your first clutch." Overexagerrating the risk but it works, the gold settling down to watch instead of comment on procedure or reasons. Xinieth gets a grin from Oddisa, "She looks good Kate." Complimenting the green with a raise of her chin before turning to R'sner, "What's overindulging? Is this based on size, age, or when they'd last ate? Should I be worried about underfeedin' her? Is tha' a thing?" Oriapeth snorts, pressing Oddisa's braids forward «We're going to starve with this line of questioning.» Sarcastic and dry in tone, the whirring sound that echoes through her mind screeching in mild protest.

Kate snickers at Oddisa's comment to Oriapeth only to offer a "Thanks," to the younger girl a moment later for the compliment. Xinieth preens, pleased with it as well « They won't let that happen. » she replies to the gold, realistic whether it was supposed to be sarcasm or not. Kate nods, "I mean I know everyone's a little different, but what should we expect." That's what Oddisa was getting at. Right?

"It's based on the same criteria you would use for yourself," answers R'sner. "When you feel that she's full, you tell her to stop. It is something you should be assessing between kills. It differs with each dragon just as it differs with each person, and no, I don't think you could underfeed her." If just because he's pretty sure the world would know if Oriapeth was hungry and not being fed. "Have you ever seen a dragon make a kill?" he answers for the 'what to expect'. It's an honest question. "For the hunt itself, you can expect a lot of noise from the herdbeasts, and then a lot of blood when the dragon's kill. It's not uncommon for them to share the experience," he warns. "And if that happens and you feel ill, just know that it's perfectly normal and very common for weyrlings to be sick the first time." He's kinda hoping that's not the case, but… there's a reason N'sir is not present.

Oriapeth is many things, but never has she been accused of being quiet or demure. Subtlety may arrive later. Oddisa follows along, closing her eyes and relaxing into her bond with Ori. "Alrigh', she's as ready as she'll get." Rustling her wings with a shimmy, the flaxen red-gold crouches down and raises her tail, lips curling up in an attempt at fierceness that is ruined by eyes that are whirling a quick blue and the sassy cock to her head. "Don't know til we try, yu look good but watch alrigh'?" Jumping up, Oddisa taps her hand against the bottom portion of her dragon's jaw, pleased with how high she gets before allowing her gaze to find Kate. "If yu vomit, I won' tell the others. Deal?" Because honor and dignity, and also grossness.

A quiet nod as Kate listens to that answer. That at least makes sense. A shake of her head follows, for the question. "No." Sure she's been in a Weyr for awhile now, but that doesn't mean she ever spend enough time near the feeding pens to have had this particular experience. They're all hoping no one gets sick, lets just go with that because the idea 'share' gets one of those i'm not so sure about this looks. The blonde nods all the same, "Ready," she agrees with Oddisa, as they'll ever be anyway. "And deal," the latter to the other girl.

« 'erdbeasts already fear y', » notes Toith in pointedly amused tones. « No need f' posturin'. » This is clearly for Oriapeth and her ferocity. A moment later and, when it becomes clear they're ready to go, Toith launches herself into the air. She circles high above, exaggerating her motions to make it obvious what she's doing. « High up's easier'n onna ground, » she explains. « Bu'cha can kill onna ground if neces'ry. » This time, however, it is not. « Th' can' see y' as well up inna air, so pick th' one y' wan' from there. Then dive an' pounce. » Sounds simple, right? And Toith also makes it look rather simple, too. Her 'beast picked out, she tucks her wings and dives, claws outstretched so that she lands with the beast in her paws. The herd scatters as she latches her jaws around it's neck and, with a wet sounding *Crack* the beast goes limp. « Nothin' to it, » she declares, picking up her kill and neatly hopping the fence. "Alright. Unless there are futher questions, Oriapeth is up. Go."

Oddisa was weyrbred, and one of the rights of passage in weyrbred children was grossing each other out and daring one another to go watch the dragons eat. That was turns back, the experience still fresh in her young mind she watches Toith and studies the form, taking to this with external ease, until the cracking of neck bones echoes back to her ears and then there's a glance up, lips flattening and face serious. Oriapeth remains in her pose statue still beyond her neck which follows Toith's every wingbeat, rumbling menacingly once the kill is made and pressing Oddisa further from her with the flick of a muzzle. Move aside Odi, she's got this. "They're herdbeasts, they're food for us too. Not sufferin' or nothin', they live for this purpose." Pointing to the feeding grounds, the comment directed towards Kate as if she's trying to comfort the greenrider and not herself. As permission is granted, she scoots towards her fellow member of the short blonde club, smiling broadly with an appreciative gasp of wonder as Oriapeth launches herself into the sky. Several wingbeats are taken, rising up above the herd; she's never going to be a predator, but the queen moves through the air with graceful abandon, savoring it for a few moments before taking to picking out a beast. After two circles, Odi yells out, "Oriapeth, pick one or I will." That threat is all she needs, diving down and snatching up a black hided herdbeast, the trajectory is off slightly, and she has it by the hind end, causing a cacophony of noise to echo from its mouth before giant jaws encase the animals head with a crunch. Swallowing hard Oddisa smiles as her lifemate's tongue licks the blood-stained lips, and she makes short work of the animal. With her mouth full Oriapeth distractedly calls to Xinieth, «This is marvelous, best thing yet.» Now she's a fan.

Kate and Xinieth both are watching Toith's demonstration, studying it though the blonde glances away as she pounces upon the beast. Sometimes seeing things in the peripheral aren't as bad as seeing it straight on. Maybe this is one of them, or maybe she was just looking to Oddisa at her comment. "I know that," she retorts. « Marvelous? Well then move so I can take my turn. » Don't hog the field Oriapeth!

R'sner and Toith both watch as Oriapeth takes her turn. There's very little change in the weyrlingmaster's expression as she makes her kill. He's been doing this so long, very little is going to phase him. Certainly not hunting, and certainly not when his own green has a habit of being… messy. Toith offers a trumpet in triumph. « Well done! » she declares, before twisting to bump at Xinieth. "You're up," seconds R'sner, motioning toward the grounds.

Once the gold has moved and she's given the okay, Xinieth takes to the skies. A leap and a few good flaps of her wings bring the green to sail through the air, turning a few times to circle the field before striking. Pearly talons extended after her prey, her predatory instinct is there but her aim needs perfecting. Claws grazing the beast as the others run and somehow she manages still to knock the thing to the ground and bring it to an end with a snap of her jaws which causes Kate to pale but at least she's not throwing up.

Oriapeth opens her jaws wide, to show off all of her crimson red teeth with obvious enjoyment. «Delicious, it was a tad overdone. Must be the weather.» Finding humor in her own commentary while Oddisa sighs mightily, crossing arms over chest and shaking her head. As Xinieth makes a kill, there's a move to clap a hand on Kate's shoulder in camaraderie. "Swallow, hard an' breathe out if yu must. Exhale like yur runnin'." Giving advice on not throwing up while grinning from ear to ear, pleased with how the day is going. "Are we to only feed them in your presence, or is this somethin' we do alone now?" Asking R'sner with the cock of her head, looking a bit like her dragon for a moment.

"Well done," agrees R'sner for Xinieth's kill. "She did good. And they'll only get better." And hey, at the end of the day there were two dragons and two kills so… definitely winning. "So long as I can trust that you will keep your dragons from excess, and to be respectful about the feeding grounds, you do not need a weyrlingmaster's presence to hunt. Generally once a day is as much as they should be going and, as they finish growing, that will decrease until they should only be hungry once a sevenday or so." Leaving Toith to watch the dragons, R'sner twists to lean against the fence and regard his weyrlings. "However, all dragons must be accompanied by their rider." So no getting out of watching for the time being. "If you're feeling faint, sit down and put your head between your knees. Breathe slow. If it doesn't get better, let me know." And then there might be healers involved.

Xinieth finds amusement in Oriapeth's commentary though her thoughts on the meal are « Just right. » And she's taking the time to relish in her meal. Kate on the other hand lets out a slow breath. "I'm alright," she assures both Oddisa and R'sner. It's just going to take some getting used to is all. Cutting meat for them was one thing. Experiencing this is quite another.

With R'sner allowing them more autonomy, Oddisa turns around and grins at Oriapeth. Crooning her reassurances towards Toith, the gold stretches fully and stares longingly toward the lake «One more? » wings opening up in preparation to take off, though she is waiting for permission. "I think we can manage all that sir, they're ours after all." Finally, stepping into her future role with a bit more gusto, even if it took her a long time to accept the full weight of impressing. "We could come together, Kate, if'n company helps." All instructions are noted with several head bobbles, mental focus split between managing her lifemate and listening. "Any time you'd prefer we.. do this? If they'll only eat once a day, they can't go anywhere full." Trying to manage the schedule and expectations, and finally thinking past her own face for once.

"If that changes, speak up," repeats R'sner. But he's confident enough in her answer not to be overly worried. "Anytime outside of lessons," is the simple answer. "And they should be able to do a lot of things after eating. It's overeating that would make them sluggish and unable to participate. But generally, a few hours before or a few hours after lessons is best." Toith offers an encouraging, « If y're hungry, go 'gain, » to both Oriapeth and Xinieth.

Kate shakes her head, "Don't have to," she replies to Oddisa, "But not going to pass on the company either." Having someone to talk to while watching certainly isn't going to hurt. « I think so. » Not that Xinieth's opinion should hold weight on what Oriapeth eats, but she's in agreement, or maybe she's thinking about her own stomach. A nod for R'sner's additional information and instructions before she nudges Oddisa. "Go ahead." They can take turns still, Oriapeth first.

Every muscle was already taught as guitar strings, Oriapeth only being held back by the large amount of work she and Oddisa had done in the last few sevendays. A minor flop of Odi's hand towards the sky is all it takes, the dragon wooshing upward with a buffet of wind for anyone standing in her vicinity. Inhaling with sheer delight, viewing her friend in flight will not be getting old any time soon, if ever. This time there's not a moment wasted, turning quickly and dive-bombing a spotted herdbeast, still missing the neck but managing to break the spine with a squeeze of sharpened talons. Oddisa watches, eyes affixed, and a loving glaze to her face, mouth slightly ajar in wonder as if her dragon wasn't a vicious predator. Turning to Kate once Ori is well on her way to eating, she says, "They're marvelous, the way they fly, powerful." As Oriapeth finishes her kill, she'll make room for Xinieth with a flick of the tail. «We shall wait for you.» "We'll do it together, maybe after lessons? Before, they'd need baths an' I don' wanna bathe her twice." Oddisa trying to nail down a schedule, with a polite nod to R'sner.

At least schedules become more of a thing as the dragons get older. Routines are important. With Oriapeth making her next kill, and Kate and Xinieth doing alright, R'sner settles in against the fence. But it doesn't last long. A moment more, and he's got that distant look of one conversing with their dragon, Toith rumbling in her chest before settling down on the ground. "Alright then," he decides, a grim press of his lips coming for whatever it is he heard. "Toith will stay here with you. If you have trouble, let her know and she'll call another weyrlingmaster to assist. I've got to attend to something." And with that, he turns and heads for the bowl at a fast jog, trusting the weyrlings behind him to behave themselves.

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