Loading Wagons Is Harder Than It Looks...

Slate grey stone forms an even surface, with no stray pebbles to bruise runners' hooves. Scattered around the courtyard's edges, the occasional tree or bush brightens the deadening effect of the rock's expanse. Twin planters, with convenient handles, frame the main Hall's doors, filled with saffron and argent flowers as the season and weather permits. Placed just above the entrance, a ledge offers a perch to firelizards in need of one, large enough to hold a fair without seeming too crowded. Sturdy rings of iron are placed here and there upon the walls of the building, allowing the secure tying of runners and other creatures who might require it. Towards the northeast a path leads off to a stout building that is placed well away from the main hall and stables. There one can find the local smith who provides for the Craft.
It is a winter midmorning. The wind has picked up slightly, but the gray winter clouds seem unmoving as they hover over the land. The wind is chill and cold, and snow is imminent.
Standing quietly are Stark, Proximate Cause, and Clouded Flames.
You see Flamer Shed and Graldo here.
You notice Alochkarina, Bryann, Dalaynia, and Kirai asleep here.
Ulaon, Jadall, and Inali are here.
Obvious exits:
Pastures Road to High Reaches Main Hall

Another day in the life of a Herder: Rhaenyra has her arms full, this time, with helping load the massive wagons parked on the western edges of the courtyard. The young woman is currently helping stack cured herdbeast hides onto one of the larger wagons, huffing with all the excessive noise that young women make to try to convince the "big, strong men" around them that they're really not that strong. An older journeyman is 'supervising', a sardonic eye trained on Rhaen. Yeah, he knows she's faking it. "C'mon, step it up, lass, ye've got more in ye than that," Ivik calls out, elliciting a Doom Glare(tm) from the Fortian Herder.

Ulaon is following in Rhaenyra's footsteps - at least, as far as the path to the wagon. There's no huffing on his part, though the boy has gone a little red in the face. He makes a point of keeping his face turned away from Ivik as his current load is deposited, though Rhaenyra is offered a quick half-smile as he nudges his freshly-loaded cargo into a more secure position.

Inali is standing off to the side of one of the Hall's main doors beside one of the plants. She's looking down at a hide, possibly a map, and trying to stay as out of the way as possible. She is clothed in a somewhat fancy white and tan fur coat to keep out the chill of the wind and cold. Her face is almost visible beneath its great hood.

Rhaenyra shoots Ivik another dark look as the man starts to laugh. "Laugh all you want, good sir, but I don't believe I see -you- helping," she points out to the older journeyman. Ulaon is graced with something more akin to a smirk than a smile, the young woman shifting her grip on the next hide. "What are we -feeding- these things?" she pants as she wrestles the hide into the back of the wagon; "This feels like five hides, not one!" The girl's Fort accent deepens, vowels clipped moreso than usual. She probably -would- notice Inali, if she wasn't so excessively engrossed in manual labor.

"A lot?" Ulaon offers in response to the probably-rhetorical feeding question. He takes a moment to re-adjust the sleeves on his shirt to be above his elbows, takes a moment to swipe at some sweat beading at his hairline, and then heads for another hide himself. Ivik is now eyed in a cautious sidelong glance. It's only once he's grabbed another hide and is hefting it to the wagon that he queries Rhaenyra as to, "Where are these things headed?"

Inali looks up from her hide, suddenly interested in conversation. Something familiar has caught her attention, even if it's not someone. Or someplace. She walks towards Rhaenyra, but hangs back from her question until the Journeyman has a least a moment's break. "Ma'am?" Inali queries. The hide, which is indeed a map, is offered to Rhaenyra. Inali takes another look, turns the hide around, and then offers it again. "Where, um, am I?" On the map.

Rhaenyra shoots a wry glance Ulaon ways, and crouches next to the next hide, trying to catch her breath. "High Reaches Weyr, for tithe," she replies, swiping at her forehead with the back of her wrist to divert the sweat headed for her eyes. "They have a tannery there, of course, but they don't have the capacity that we do. And some riders are just simply picky on where leather for straps and such come from." A shrug of her shoulders, and then something else has her attention; the Fortbred rises to her feet and peers at Inali, then at her hide. "Herder Hall," she replies, tone brisk. "Right— there," she gestures towards a specific part of the map. "Came down from the weyr?" she questions, then, an eyebrow lifted in query.

Ulaon gives a nod, mouth opening as if to say something else - though that something is never voiced. Rather, he peers at Inali for a moment when she starts speaking, then jerks his head back to the next hide to be loaded, and sets back to the task at hand. Peering over to the conversation only now and then. This next hide is given a bit of a toss to the wagon, after which a shoulder is rotated, as if to loosen muscles.

Inali looks again at her map. "Oh! Here," she repeats, although still seems a little perplexed at the layout. "I see." She takes a moment to pull off her hood. "Sorry from interrupting. No, I'm not from High Reaches. Fort, actually." Her own accent, though it is minimal, can finally be detected.

Rhaenyra keeps an eye on the loading as much as Ivik; apprentices are hard to come by these days, even augmented by junior journeymen such as herself, and every accident averted is a Good Thing(tm). Inali is focused in upon, again, and she assesses the girl once more. "Fort, hm? Long way from home," she states, tone halfway distracted. She shakes her head, then, once, as if to clear her mind; "Can I assist you in any way, or are you just passing through?"

Ulaon, aware of the supervision, perhaps, goes a bit redder in the face than can just be attributed to heavy lifting, rotates that shoulder once more, and hurries on to the next hide. Nothing to see here, everything's fine. Shoulders are squared a bit as he grabs up the next one, though it's placed on the wagon with distinctly more care.

"I'm just—" Inali is distracted for a moment again by the map, and then rolls it up in her hand, "I'm interested in staying here, actually. Joining. But of course that depends on how well my recommendation goes over…" The girl smiles briefly, and stuffs the hide into an inner pocket on her coat. "I came by dragon."

A smile touches upon Rhaen's face, from something observed by those lifting. Ulaon's actions? Most likely. "Don't anyone strain themselves, now," she calls over to the lads hefting the hides— "Finish that stack and take a break before you break yourselves, hmm?" The Herder journeyman is still smiling slightly as she turns back to Inali. "Joining the hall, eh? As an…" The girl's appearance, and fancy coat, are given a deliberate glance-over, "…apprentice?"

Ulaon goes redder still. "I could keep going," is protested very softly, enough that it might not be audible in its entirety. The second-last hide is grasped, though before he lifts it he shoots a quick look over to Inali once more.

Inali catches the deliberate look, and pauses with a moment of uncertainty before she replies. "Yea. Apprentice. My mother recently decided I could join if I wanted, especially after the um, incident. So I guess I'll see how things work out." She glances towards the entrance to the hall. "I'm sorry, excuse me, I need to meet someone inside… somewhere. Maybe I'll see you around." Sliding her hood back on her head, she abruptly turns and walks away.

Inali walks to the Main Hall.

Rhaenyra blinks, an expression of surprise crossing her features. "Well, then, I suppose she told me," she quips, amusement showing impulsively across her face. "Nonetheless, I'll not have you being injured on -my- watch, apprentice," she calls out to Ulaon. "Plus, if all of you aren't working, it doesn't make me look bad."

"Strange," Ulaon tosses after the departing Inali. The final hide is loaded on, and he takes up a resting lean against the side of the wagon, hands braced against the wood. "So who's taking this thing up to the Weyr?"

Rhaenyra shakes her head. "It takes all kinds," she states, amusement evident in her voice. "Mm, once we have all of them loaded with the various goods, and have the beasts rounded up that we'll be taking up to them… well, it will take quite a bit of workers to handle everything, so I'd say at least a dozen of us. I know I'm going, and Ivik over there, but other than that…" A slight shrug. "Who knows. Maybe we'll even be able to drag Master J to go with us." She snags one of the skins of water that a thoughtful apprentice brought out to the workers, takes a draught and tosses it to Ulaon. "Catch."

Ulaon has turned his focus to a random point on the ground, and is staring at it quite thoughtfully while nodding to Rhaenyra's response. The 'catch' bit finds him a bit surprsied, though he does manage not to drop the skin - instead gripping it up tight against his chest for a moment. Then the thing is opened, a few swallows taken. "Well, if you need help… maybe I could come?" Almost embarrassed, he adds, again looking in the direction of that point on the ground, "Never been to the Weyr before."

Rhaenyra flashes a sudden, rare grin— the real sort, not just her typical half-amused upwards curl of a lip. "Never been, hmm? Well then, we'll make sure that you go!" She scans about the courtyard for a moment; "Have you ever herded herdbeasts on runnerback before?"

Hyotan walks in from the Main Hall.

Ulaon can't help but look back to Rhaenyra at that next question. "No, ma'am." A final swig of water is taken before the skin is capped up, and he holds it toward her, seeking permission - or at least acknowledgement - before willing to toss it back. "I've ridden before. But… there's more fish than herdbeasts where I'm from. They don't herd so well by runner."

Rhaenyra cups her hands in silent readiness for the throw. "Don't mention herding fish to Master Jadall," she murmurs, voice low with amusement and half-distracted by the sound of it. That sounds like a story… "Well, then, it's not too hard; we'll just need to find you an acceptable mount. I'm sure Rofocale won't mind if I borrow one for you," she continues, voice cheerful. "Or you can ride mine, and I'll borrow one for myself." A light shrug. "I don't reckon we'll be leaving until tomorrow— maybe not until the day after tomorrow, so we've plenty of time."

The steady clopclop up the path from the barn isn't the right cadence for a four-footed beast and turns out to be only Hyotan, who pauses at the entree to the courtyard to pry a clod of - dirt, dung, something - that's clinging to the edge of his boots. His breath makes plumes in the chilled air, lending fogginess to his view of Rhaenyra and Ulaon when he lifts his head to scan the stone yard.

Ulaon isn't quite able to smother an over-excited little grin. The excitement carries into the toss of the skin, moving it perhaps a bit more speedily than would be expected, though it does at least stay on target. "We could probalby find one for me if you don't want to give yours up. Just to use," he clarifies, then clears his throat and takes a deep breath. And, pertinent considering the conversation, the sound of hooves warrants Ulaon's attention next. Squint.

Rhaenyra oofs lightly as she catches the skin. "Note to self, never get into a stone-throwing contest with Ulaon," she remarks aloud, a dry note to her voice. "Stark's not a bad sort, and he's easy to get along with, for a stud especially, so maybe I will just let you ride him and I'll find another one," aka weasle her journeyman graduation present out of Rofocale for once and for all! Mwahaha..er.. ahem. She glances up as well, squinting slightly in Hyotan's direction.

Hyotan clears his throat noisily and sends the resultant loogie off the side of the path before squinting back just for squinting's sake. Rhaenyra's familiar enough by now that he recognizes her by shape and posture, while Ulaon remains more enigmatic. There aren't /so/ many apprentices around that he's a complete unknown, though, and so the milchman from White Valley lopes across the courtyard and presents himself dutifully. "Ma'am." He nods to the other apprentice, sizing him up.

Ulaon gives up his lean against the wagon as Hyotan approaches, standing up straight, and watching looking right on back. Finally, Ulaon gives a quick nod to other apprentice, and makes a point of cutting to the next stack of hides to be loaded, resuming his duties rather pointedly.

Hyotan shifts uneasily in the face of Ulaon's productiveness, his hands veritably twitching with unused work-ethic. "Uh, want a hand with that?" The question's quite possibly rhetorical, since he's already stepping up towards the wagon and the stacks to be loaded, firm in his believe that the Journeywoman will redirect him posthaste the minute she thinks of something else she'd rather have him do.

"Sure, if you want." Ulaon is careful to stagger his trips from hide stack to wagon with Hyotan's - more efficient that way, and no smacking into each other. "Almost done with it, anyway," he adds after he gets a couple more hides hauled on.

Hyotan wouldn't have thought of the more efficient manner of moving, but he falls into the pattern very easily once Ulaon establishes it. Betwixts the twain there's not much left to do at all. "Anythin' else we oughta be loadin'?"

Rhaenyra gazes at the two for a moment with amusement evident in her face. "I've things to do back in the hall… when you two are done, let me know. You two can do inventory after that." And with a quiet smile, the journeyman leaves them to their labors.

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