First Firestone And Flaming Lesson


W'red.jpg L'ron.jpg Ahnika.jpg

Date: 11.12.2010
Location: Eastern Weyr Bowl
Synopsis: “Form up Weyrlings, greens in front of the first stack of sacks, blues in front of the second, browns in front of the third, bronzes in front of the fourth, golds can sit with Tavaith as you cannot take part in this exercise today.”
Rating: PG 13
Logger: W'red

As the weyrlings walk out of the barracks an unusual sight will greet them, up against the wall of the bowl are four great big piles of rocks, in a straight line back from the piles of rocks about two dragonlengths are neatly stacked piles of sacks. What the sacks contain will soon be revealed to the weyrlings and dragonets alike. W’red is standing facing away from the piles of rocks in between the stacks of sacks, Tavaith is loitering off to the side of this scene, his great multifaceted eyes whirling blue as he waits for the young dragonets to assemble in their formations.

Balkrith spots the piles of rocks and the sacks set a ways before them and with a happy clanging of pots states, « Look! I knew the great one would see it my way. We're going to learn how to build caves to protect turnips in. » Because that must be what's in those sacks, right? L'ron has long since given up and simply sends his blue a look as he falls into formation.

Ahnika and Jhath marshal their way up to the training area and into formation with Ahni giving a smile in greeting to L'ron and Balkrith, and many of the other weyrlings she's made friends with since their candidacy, too. Those who have arrived anyway. The redhead salutes to W'red and Tavaith and any assistant Weyrlingmasters who may be present, and Jhath gives a bow of her head to the same. There is a curious look given from Ahnika to the piles of rocks, but otherwise her posture remains in formation and at-attention.

W’red’s arms are folded across his chest, a stern look on his face, he loosely salutes those Weyrlings that offer salutes, as he waits for them to form up, this is always a lesson he dreads, so much can go wrong and usually does. “Form up Weyrlings, greens in front of the first stack of sacks, blues in front of the second, browns in front of the third, bronzes in front of the fourth, golds can sit with Tavaith as you cannot take part in this exercise today.” The weyr seems fairly empty, especially in this area of the bowl, none of the usual onlookers, most know what the lesson is about and have cleared off knowing the resultant mess and smell left after this particular lesson.

Balkrith, eager to get going with what he thinks this lesson is about, is amongst the first of the blues to arrive at the second stack of sacks, an almost possessive cast to his posture as he sidles right up as close as he can to them. L'ron for his part sends an intrigued look Tavaith's way as he too is given leave to join in the lesson, knowing full well it probably has absolutely nothing to do with turnips. Thank Faranth! A quick responding smile is sent Ahnika's way with a short dip of head going toward her green dragonet, completely ignoring a certain male green weyrling before putting his full attention onto W'red.

Without hesitation, Ahnika and Jhath move, nearly as one (it's getting harder to completely sync their strides as Jhath gets bigger, after all), over to the first column in front of the first of the stacks, as ordered. Being that Jhath is among the largest of the green dragonets and Ahni, herself, probably being among the tallest of the green weyrlings, she tries to put them near the back so as not to be in the way of line of sight of anyone else in the column, especially with such an important, and obviously dangerous lesson-just look at the lack of onlookers this time. She doesn't want Jhath or herself to be the reason someone missed seeing some important demonstration. Balkrith's eagerness, though, gets a genuinely warm smile from Ahni. Though Jhath, herself, seems more interested in the rocks, her attention locked on them from the distance.

As the Weyrlings shuffle around and get themselves sorted into the correct rows the Weyrlingmaster continues in a loud booming voice that drowns out any murmuring that may be going on, “today your dragonets will chew firestone and flame, this is a dangerous lesson, anyone not listening or not following instructions, will be withdrawn from any further part in the training and sent back to the barracks, is that clear!”

Shockingly enough? Balkrith fairly wriggles with glee. And why might that be? Because Tavaith had told him that firestone tastes like…turnips! In total contrast, L'ron's expression turns grave, attention flickering down the lines and then reaching to lightly cuff a blue weyrling just off to his right that's paying more attention to snickering going on amongst the ranks of brown weyrlings than what W'red is saying. "You want to get sent back and give them further reason to believe us blueriders are useless?" he hisses out low, taking up a little seen position of 'authority' amongst his blue counterparts. That said attention once again goes back to their Weyrlingmaster.

Once W'red begins speaking, Ahnika's attention becomes fixed on him. Jhath's too, of course, but since her attention was already in that direction with the rocks, it may be hard to perceive the slight shift in direction of her multi-faceted gaze. Of course, they are hearing some of the murmuring and snickering that isn't already silenced with W'red's voice, but Ahnika and Jhath remain looking front and center, to W'red. To his last, Ahni, along with a few other of the more rigidly militant weyrlings respond clearly, "Sir, yes, sir!"

W’red takes a few steps backward, placing the sacks in front of him with the lines of dragonets behind them, and the piles of rocks still behind him. He is now about half a dragonlength from the sacks and a dragonlength and a half from the piles of rocks, “We will do this together, all the dragonets first in their rows will go first, then the second and so on, but, the dragonets in second and all the others behind them, move back one dragonlength, let’s have some space between the ones doing the lesson and the rest.” He waits for the Weyrlings to once again move around and get into the positions as instructed.

Balkrith and L'ron are second in line, despite the blue's best efforts to have manoeuvred himself up to the front. The dragonet reluctant to move back and setting his blue clutchsib up ahead with a stare. « Balkrith! » L'ron barks out through their mental link which as unexpected as it was, almost has the blue bowling over backwards for the start he was given. « I'm going. I'm going. » tromp, tromp, sulk…tromp, sulk. Finally the pair are the required one dragonlength behind the forerunners.

Ahnika adjusts her position as ordered, moving back an entire dragonlength with Jhath following suit beside her. But they are quick and efficient about it, not wanting to miss anything going on up front, including any demonstrations of the dragonets flaming in front of them, and those in that whole front couple of rows, including Balkrith and L'ron.

”Today we will start with the bronzes, and work down and across, browns, blues, greens, before we begin, we will need to recap on the lesson you had before I came to the Weyr, from what I read in the records one of the Weyrwoman gave the lesson, so all I’m going to do is go over the main points.” The Weyrlingmasters blue eyes quickly scan over the weyrlings, “your dragonets have two stomachs, one for eating and one for firestone, by now I presume that you and your dragonets have practiced concentrating on the second stomach in order for firestone to be chewed and swallowed into the correct stomach.” He waits a short time before continuing, “once the firestone is swallowed it mixes with the stomach fluid and when the gas is released into the air as flames, we are not going into exactly how this happens as I believe it should have been covered in that previous lesson.”

« There you see? » L'ron gives to his blue, « We're near the end of it any way, so you can relax and pay attention to how it gets done. » Balkrith, sulk! Full attention is given for the recap on which stomach to use, with the blue weyrling lifting a brow his bonded's way who in turn pulls himself up straight into his version of a dignified pose and states, « I got it, I got it. The empty one. » because the other still has the remains of his last meal in it.

At the pause between W'red's statements about the second stomach, Ahnika casts a little glance up at Jhath with a knowing and proud smile. There's no doubt her dedicated green has been practicing. Ahnika returns to that schooled serene expression to attention with W'red's words. There's a slight nod to her head in acknowledgment, but she doesn't verbalize it this time since he didn't end it with 'is that clear?' However, her gaze slides all the way at the other corner of their formation, to the bronze column and the one in front there, since it appears that will be the one starting things off. Good thing Ahni and Jhath are tall and able to see over many heads. Maybe not all, but enough at least to have a decent view.

W’red starts with the first bronze dragonet and rider, “R’het, take some firestone from the sacks in front of you, five smallish pieces will be enough for the first time, give them to Searth to chew, help him concentrate on swallowing it into the second stomach, then allow him to flame towards the pile of rocks over there.” He watches carefully as the instructions are carried out, to ensure it is done just as required. Tavaith rumbles quietly softly beating drums underlying the melodic sound of his mind voice, « concentrate young Searth, let the chewed rock fall in the second stomach, the first few times are difficult but it gets easier, then breath out. » The Weyrlingmaster holds his breath waiting for the flame to erupt from the young bronze, “remember look to the rocks only do not look elsewhere, look only to the rocks.” The young dragonet chews the firestone, swallows it seemingly into the correct stomach, Tavaith says no more so W’red presumes it to be going well, a puff of smoke, whisps from the mouth of the bronze and it’s eyes start whirling a light yellow, Tavaith’s mind voice gently floats across to the dragonet, « this is normal young one, just breath out, » with that the young bronze lets out a small flame that only goes around a quarter of a dragonlength. “That’s fine R’het, now move over there and let Searth throw up the residue, then take up your place at the back of the row.”

A ripple of excitement goes through the ranks of watching weyrlings, murmuring rising to a low hum of anticipation. L'ron breaks forth a wide grin, and Balkrith's wings give a little flutter of enthusiasm at his sides. « Did you see, L'ron Searth turned his turnip into flame! » mindvoice filled with appreciative awe.

Riveted and fascinated. Both Jhath and Ahni observe from near the opposite corner from R'het and Searth's position in front, not needing to crane their necks what with the height of the bronze dragonet. The display was less spectacular than what both Ahni and Jhath were expecting of a bronze weyrling, but they keep such thoughts to themselves, with Ahni reminding Jhath internally that this is the class' first time, after all. Considering their relative positions, it is unlikely R'het will see Ahnika as he and Searth head off to purge the residue and return to the back of the line, but should he happen to, Ahnika would have a pleased and encouraging smile on her features before she looks on to the front of the brown column.

Next is a brown’s turn, the dragonet and weyrling seem to do no better than the bronze, not that W’red thought any of them would get it first time around, and only allowing small amounts of firestone reduces the danger. As demonstrated by Tavaith when they were doing the identification it doesn’t require a huge amount of stone to produce flame, just practice. W’red moves onto the blue row, and the blue in front is given the same instructions and with much the same result, it goes the same way with the first green, the Weyrlingmaster is fairly pleased so far, although none of the dragonets have been too successful, this is the way it goes until they get the hang of it. The smell of rotting fish and garlic hang heavily in the air, but for seasoned dragonriders it is a familiar smell.

One or two of the weyrlings are openly trying to swallow down their reaction to the awful stench left in the air, with L'ron lifting his forearm across his face as a slight breeze blows a heavy whiff back toward them. Balkrith of course, being the dragon of the pair, doesn't seem in the least bit perturbed by the aroma and is currently sending all kinds of mental congratulations up and down the line of those that have executed their first attempt at flaming.

Fanning herself a little, discreetly, as the smell starts to get back to her and Jhath, Ahnika continues to observe with open interest. There seems to be little of a physical level that the weyrlings are doing themselves for this, but she is interested nonetheless in their choice of firestone and how they feed it to their dragonets. Of course, the fact that they are more integral to the activity on an internal level doesn't get missed, either. Jhath on the other hand is busy marking distinctions, miniscule as they may be, in how the dragonets are conducting the exercise. And in, true military camaraderie fashion, is offering up such comments along with encouragement to those who have had their turns, « Very well done, my Battle Brother! I noticed you hesitated a little longer than Searth. Perhaps that is why your flame was a bit wider? »

W’red moves back to the bronze row, the young bronze chews the firestone and has pretty much the same result as the one before, Tavaith crooning gently to the dragonets as they all try their hand at chewing and flaming. Getting to the next in line in the blue row, the Weyrlingmaster has an internal shudder, who is in front, none other than the turnip head and his blue Balkrith. “Okay L’ron, let’s do this right, don’t worry too much about the amount of flame, it’s all part of the lesson get the stone in the right stomach and get out some flame it will get better with time.” W’red looks back to where all the waiting weyrlings are and the ones lined up for their attempt, his voice booming out, “Today isn’t about how much flame you can produce, it’s about practicing to use the correct stomach, getting some flame produced. This is why Tavaith is not flaming, I don’t want you feeling discouraged, it is after all the first time that your dragonets are trying.” The pungent smell is now filling the bowl, no wonder the Weyr folk have discreetly all disappeared.

Brows twitch upward as W'red addresses him, and the blue weyrling gives a firm nod, "Yes sir!" His dragonet all aquiver with excitement as their turn swings around. « I want big one! Give me a biiiig one L'ron. » So sayeth the over eager blue to get his first taste of 'turnip'. « No, you get whatever I give you. » L'ron reprimands dipping his hand into the sack and withdrawing a rather average sized lump of firestone, turning it over in his hands to check that it is indeed firestone and not rock or the lower grade stuff they'd learned about. Balkrith, a small goblet of drool stringing out the side, stretches his maw wide as he can and carefully plucks the firestone from his rider's hand. A moment or two goes passed and then soap suds rise up thick and cloying across his mind voice as he does nothing but hold it in his mouth « This…this doesn't taste anything like your turnip, L'ron. It's nasty! » Balkrith even goes so far as to stick his tongue out in the equivalent of a draconic gag, much like a child being faced with its least favourite vegetable. An exasperated expression laced through with a faint blush falls into place with L'ron using spoken tone instead of mental, "Would you just stop acting up, chew it up and stick it in your second stomach already!" « It's yucky. » the blue's mental tone decidedly pouty. But he reluctantly does as bidden and carefully sets molars to grinding the rock between them, his eyes going all but squint as he focuses on the correct stomach and swallows the stuff down with a dramatic shudder rippling through his body. « Uh oh. » That all the warning L'ron or anyone else gets before Balkrith, instead of breathing…burps and sends a brilliant flash of flame bursting outward in a ball which doesn't go very far. And then the dragonet is looking decidedly queasy and before his bonded can usher him off to one side.promptly throws up all over his boots. "Argh! What the fu…", he catches himself just in time from uttering the expletive, hands clenching at his sides as more than one weyrling sets to snickering openly.

Continuing to watch with sincere interest, Ahnika and Jhath remain dutifully quiet (at least physically quiet) and attentive as the next row gets their try. As Balkrith and L'ron are up next, Ahnika crosses her fingers at her sides and looks on encouragingly. Jhath, not wanting to startle anyone mid-flame, let alone Balkrith, resists her urge to bugle boisterously in encouragement to the blue for now. W'red's words earn a nod from the redheaded weyrling and she looks up at Jhath with a silent exchange of commentary made between them, and then she returns her attention to Balkrith and L'ron. Both the green dragonet and Ahni watch with anticipation as the blue pair go through the exercise, and it's only after Balkrith actually burps the flame that Ahnika seems to exhale a little breath she had been holding. But she grins brightly nevertheless, offering it up in quiet encouragement should the blue weyrling pair come along their column to get to the back of the blue column. Jhath offers her own encouragement in a fragrant billow of incense within her mind's chamber to Balkrith, « Well done, Battle Brother! In time and with practice, we shall all show Thread whatfor! » She'd trumpet his triumph as well, but Ahnika doesn't want her to startle the next green in line to flame and cause an accident, and so with her lifemate's wise council, she refrains and simply returns her attention to those in front of her.

W’red stifles a chuckle, “L’ron move Balkrith out of the way and get a shovel to clean up the mess, while the others are busy, and hurry it up before the next blue has to stand in the residue.” A’kon is the next green in line and the Weyrlingmaster, instructs him as he has with the other dragonets, Ranuth chews the firestone and makes a sort of successful attempt at flaming, but as the flame leaves his maw the dragonet turns his head in W’red’s direction some quick and fancy footwork moves the Weyrlingmaster out of harms way, “A’kon, you fool, control Ranuth, she must face forward towards the rocks, I see she has perhaps been the most successful but I can see that from here no need to show me so personally. Now move off and let her throw up the residue.”

Tips of his ears burning with humiliation, L'ron merely gives the amused weyrlingmaster a mute nod of head and trudges off to get a shovel with Balkrith trailing along behind him doing little hops. « I did it! I did it! I made flaaame. » totally disregarding what else he'd done shortly thereafter in his glee, « Whoooosh! Just like that. I did it! » The blue weyrling merely gives his dragonet a dirty look in return but remains otherwise silent. His set expression altering only briefly to send Ahnika a trace of a grateful smile for her show of encouragement.

Ahnika frowns with open disapproval at Ranuth's example nearly making the weyrlingmaster a bit toasty and risking his eyebrows. Come now, he's not that bad, Ahni thinks. But she and Jhath move up in line as the next row gets going again starting down at the bronze column. Ahni spares only a brief glance to L'ron as he is cleaning up the residue, what wasn't on his boots anyway, and makes a note of where the shovels are being left out for such a purpose for when she and Jhath have to do it. There's a grin for the little hops of pleasure from Balkrith, and then she, like Jhath, is back to reviewing the third row's attempts to flame.

So it goes, back to the next bronze pair, then the brown of V’tol is in place to have his turn, which is about as successful as the ones before him, the lines however never get shorter as the weyrlings work in rotation, eventually it is Ahnika and her green Jhath at the front of the green line. “Right Ahnika, Jhath, as I’ve said to all before you it is not how much you flame or even how you flame this first lesson is more about getting the firestone in the right stomach and feeling what it feels like, now Ahnika go ahead and let Jhath chew the five pieces, and let’s see how she does.”

Head down and shovel to the residue, L'ron is keeping to himself. Balkrith…is not and is doing his rendition of a strut. He flamed you know! Setting the shovel back to where he'd gotten it, arms fold across his chest and the blue weyrling puts his attention on Ahnika and Jhath as they're called up to take their turn. Some of his embarrassment draining off as puts an encouraging smile onto the green pair.

Having watched everyone have a turn ahead of her, Ahnika steps up to the proverbial plate with Jhath as it is now their turn. They maintain their dignified soldier-like poise as they listen to W'red, acknowledge it with a brief salute from Ahni, "Yes, sir!" and then the green weyrling reaches into the firestone sack to pick through the remains for five choice chunks for her girl. Cradling four of them in her left arm, she tosses the first up to Jhath, who snatches it easily enough and begins chewing without much care for the taste. Not that she thinks it tastes wonderful, of course, but hers is a mind full of a sense of duty and taste is one of many things she's willing to sacrifice for it. There's a little pause as she finishes grinding that first stone down, where Ahnika, herself, seems to go a little more still in helping her dragonet to concentrate, and then it is swallowed down the gullet into the proper stomach for firestone. The second and third chunks are tossed up and caught and chewed and swallowed in a similar manner, but the fourth and fifth chunks are done with a bit more efficiency and speed, with Jhath seeming to have gotten used to using that second stomach more by that point. The green's tall and stocky body tenses a little within that pregnant pause next, and she lowers her head to point more directly at the rocks she is supposed to be pointing at, her tail lifting a little in balance and her silver talons digging into the earth as if in some instinctive fear of recoil sending the big green backwards into the rest of the column. Hardly, as what comes out when she opens her mouth and breathes is a spout of flame marginally less than that of some of the bigger and more disciplined blue dragonets. But she does flame and she doesn't get anyone hurt, including herself or Ahni, and she doesn't explode back into the crowd with some bizarre recoil. If Jhath is disappointed in her display, she doesn't show it outwardly, but neither is she exactly bouncing with excitement. She keeps herself dignified while Ahni smiles approvingly up at her, plenty proud right there and not the least bit disappointed in Jhath's performance.

On their second and third attempts the dragonets get better and better some actually reaching the piles of rocks which were placed there as targets for them. W’red is now allowing ten pieces of firestone for each dragonet, and the pile of residue from the chewing and flaming has grown significantly, a steaming heap of really smelly burnt ash. “Class, okay, that was your first lesson in firestone chewing and flaming, it is unfortunately not something you can practice by yourselves, it can only be done under the supervision of myself and my staff, the next lesson will be easier, knowing what is required, we will flame on the ground until you have all perfected it, then we will take it to the air, this is still a while away though. Well done to all of you, Tavaith will now give a short demonstration for you and the dragonets.” Tavaith rumbles gently and moves into position in front of the first target, W’red pops a few pieces of firestone into his maw and he chews and flames the first target, mixed in with the pungent smell of rotting fish and garlic, rising from the rocks is the sweet smell of roasting spiced wherry, from his position Tavaith can reach all of the rock piles and flames each in turn the smell of roast wherry slowy overpowering the other smell.

L'ron's smile broadens into a grin as Jhath produces a decent enough flame, far better than Balkrith had managed to burp out. It's with some restraint that he doesn't break out into an outright round of applause. His blue however is less circumspect and sends an obnoxiously loud clanging of pots over to his green counterpart, « Grace under fire. » The clich turned about and handed over as his form of a compliment. By the end of the lesson, the blue weyrling has all but forgotten his dragonet's iffy beginning and starting to enjoy himself watching others taking their turns and passing quiet comments back and forth between himself and a few other blueriders. However, with Tavaith given them seasoned demonstration, his nose starts to twitch and he puts an enquiring look over to W'red for the smell of roast wherry invading the otherwise awful smell. "Sir?" he almost hesitates to ask, "Are there…wherries trapped in those rocks or something?" Taking the risk that he'll once again become the laughing stock of the class with that question.

Having seen to letting Jhath upchuck the residue and shoveling it, with Jhath helpfully pointing out where Ahnika missed some, the pair get back in line and return to watching the rest of the weyrlings go through the next round and then their own turns coming up again before a third round for all. Just as expected, Jhath improves with the second and third tries to a point where she nearly reaches the pile of rocks with her own flame. Standing back in formation, Ahnika and Jhath attentively listen to W'red with Ahni nodding in acknowledgement of this not being something that they can practice unsupervised, Ranuth's first example being a prime indication of why. The pair watch with open fascination as Tavaith gives his own superior demonstration, and being toward the back now, it's perhaps a heartbeat or two after the others react to the smell that Ahnika, herself tries to fan a little of it out of her personal airspace. She turns her attention to L'ron as he produces his query, smiling a little but not laughing, and watching for W'red's response.

W’red grins, there were no major mishaps so in general a successful first class in flaming, “Those who want to can help themselves to some wherry, just lift off the first rocks and help yourselves, flaming dragons have more than one purpose, just never let them get to close to the meat as the flame directly from their maws makes the meat taste awful, but from about two dragonlengths and if the meat is covered by rock it actually tastes real good.” There are only empty sacks left on the ground and two of the weyrlings are instructed to take them back to the stores. For the last time today W’red’s voice booms out, “Weyrlings, that was a pretty good showing by all of you, are there any questions related to what we have done today?”

A small look of triumph crosses L'ron's features as indeed he was proven to have been right about there having been wherries trapped within the rocks. One can be sure that as soon as class is dismissed he'll be amongst those lifting rocks with gloved hands to get at the unexpected treat and with the use of belt knives, helping to distribute slices of cooked wherry to those that want. Right now however, he considers if there might be anything else he wanted answered and ends up shaking his head. Nope, W'red pretty much covered everything today for him.

Ahnika looks openly surprised at the revelation that there were uncooked (and now cooked) wherries behind the rocks and she shoots L'ron a 'aren't you clever?!' look of approval. But no, she doesn't seem to have any questions, and neither does Jhath at this time, so the pair remain quiet as they await the class' dismissal so they can get roasted wherry meat of their own for lunch. Well, for Ahni at least. Jhath will happily go chase down a herdbeast in the feeding pens while Ahni's eating wherry.

With a wave of his hand W’red, indicates towards the rocks, “Well as there are no questions, have at the wherries, class dismissed.” W’red himself moves towards the rock piles to get a piece or two of the wherry meat, Tavaith trundles off a short distance and launches himself into the air, flying out of the Weyr to empty his second stomach, something he has always had a problem with doing in front of others.

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