Therefore, when the weyrlings gathered for their first solo flight class, H'lee laid down the ground rules from atop the stone ramp that jutted out of the upper end of the training bowl, looking like a dock over an empty lake bed.
"Get this into your thick heads now. I should not have to repeat this. You will never, I repeat, NEVER fly with your dragon until I have personally given you permission to do so. If you do, you will be held back. You will be doing the dirtiest, least-favorite chores in the Academy for the rest of your stay here. You will stay in the junior weyrling weyrs while your clutchmates move into the senior weyrling weyrs. Do I make myself clear?!"
With that said and, hopefully, firmly planted in the youngster's minds, H'lee waved his volunteer from the Snowflake clutch forward. "This is Sina and her green Danalith. They've volunteered to assist with today's lesson, since Danalith is the smallest of the greens from their clutch."
The Tundra clutch watched as Danalith walked up the ramp and stood at the edge, lowering her neck to peer over it and out at the younger weyrlings below her. The dragon rumbled at her rider, who snorted at some private joke.
"You will walk your dragon up to the edge, like Sina just did with Danalith. I'll be waiting for you right here. You and I will then climb up there," he paused to point at the small platform that stuck out above the main ramp, "and when I tell you," he gave Sina a jaundiced look, "you will instruct your dragon to jump off the edge and open his or her wings to glide to the bottom of the bowl. Down there," he pointed to Roth and Seeth, no more than five dragonlengths down the valley floor, "is your landing zone. Your dragon's feet should touch the ground just after passing them. Now, all of you move to the side."
Once the Tundra weyrlings were well off to the side, he and Sina climbed up the platform. H'lee dramatically gave Sina a signal and she looked at her dragon. The green gave a small jump, mostly pushing herself away from the edge of the ramp, and flared her wings as soon as they were clear of the launch point. She tucked her legs up and, without once flapping her wings, glided down to the Weyrlingmasters' dragons and extended her feet for a running landing, touching down just past the older dragons' noses. H'lee clapped Sina's shoulder and they climbed back down to the ramp.
"That's how you do it. Your dragons won't have to jump quite as much because they're smaller and there's a lot more room between the end of the ramp and the ground underneath. First up, S'nom and Pareilth. Come on up."
S'nom and Parielth
Ashendel and Basidith
Fayble and Deasirith
D'rick and Haranth
K'so and Qancith
N'sir and Spindath
K'let and Shimarkth
Katarina and Mccoreth (Sora)
Z'vier and Niocth
A'lo and Rikraketh
X'kim and Zhlucarth
Artemis and Jadziath have to sit this out due to the broken wing.
First Post: Your dragon's very first glide (well, at least, we hope it's a glide and not a fall or crash and burn) off the end of the launch ramp.
Required Posts: 3 out of 4
Deadline: Saturday, August 18
Next Post: Sunday, August 19
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! As if his mental bouncing wasn't enough, the blue was trembling all over with excitement. He was nearly bouncing physically. Not that K'so was any less excited. This was the first step toward proving that he was a real dragonrider!
For a change, H'lee mixed up the order and had the greens go first. Pareilth's flight was really quite good, if a little wobbly at first; almost too good, like he'd been practicing. K'so noticed H'lee giving S'nom and little talking to and the green rider raising his hands and shaking his head vigorously. No doubt H'lee thought the same and the rider was denying that they'd done any illicit practicing. Unfortunately, Basidith's flight was the complete opposite. She crashed to the ground barely two dragonlengths out from the ramp and raised an awful keening. H'lee and her rider rushed over and got them out of the flight path; the green hadn't seriously hurt herself, but she'd sprained one of her forelegs and a wing. She wouldn't be flying again for at least a week.
Although it seemed to take forever to get through the four greens, it was less time than it would have taken for the six bronzes, browns, and blues if it had been the other way around, and K'so and Qancith were soon making their way up the stone ramp. He had to admit, the ramp was an impressive piece of work. It was easily two dragonlengths long and rose at least a dragonlength above the ground at the front.
H'lee met them at the end of the ramp. "Now, remember, no flapping your wings, Qancith. This is just a gentle glide down the valley. Please extend your right wing." The blue obliged; both he and his rider had wondered what H'lee had imparted to the greens during this part of the conversation. It was too quiet for anyone except the trio at the end of the ramp to hear. "You can tip your wings to get extra lift or to descend." The weyrling master demonstrated how, to get extra lift, the wing should be tilted upward at the front and downward along the sail, or down in front and up on the trailing edge to descend. "That's how you'll make it down to Seeth and Roth down there. If you think you're going to land too soon, lift up here in front and tip the sail down; if you think you're going to overshoot them, tilt down in front and up on your sail."
K'so suddenly felt nervous. What if Qancith crashed, like Basidith did? He could also picture the blue picking up too much speed and overshooting, bouncing like a blue rubber ball through the grass beyond the adult dragons. STOP THAT, the blue protested. I am a dragon. Dragons are meant to fly. I will not crash.
With no little trepidation, K'so climbed the spiral steps to the platform above with H'lee. Just remember, nice and easy. Shove off from the end and let your wings do the work, he reminded Qancith, as much to reassure himself as to make sure his dragon wasn't going to try any daredevil stunts. Then H'lee gave him the signal, and after taking a deep breath, Now, Qancith!
The blue shoved off, pushing himself up more than they were really supposed to. He snapped his wings open and gave a wavering sort of bugle of joy at feeling air buoy under the sails. Then he realized he was too high and he was coming up on the landing zone. He dipped his wings to come down and squawked undignifiedly as the ground suddenly shot up at him. He flared his wings to slow his descent and only found himself going up again.
Qancith, tip your wings just a little bit! No, that's too much! There was a pause in his rider's mental communication as H'lee provided instructions to the frantic bluerider. Just raise the trailing edge of your wingsail a little.
I'm running out of valley to land in! the blue wailed.
I know, just-- Another pause. H'lee says dip your right wingtip. The blue did so and screeched as he suddenly spun and was facing back the way he had come, raising his wingtip almost as soon as he'd dropped it. Now, dip down! Just a little bit! That's it!
The blue landed a couple of dragonlengths from the older dragons, who were crouched, ready to snatch the youngster out of the air if he passed them. He hit the ground with a thud and his legs buckled after the first stride and he, well, bounced a little before coming to rest with his wings still spread on the grass. He didn't move, but creeled loudly in fear. K'so scrambled down from the platform and ran to his dragon. Neither of them noticed H'lee for several minutes as the Weyrlingmaster stood over them. "Normally we'd talk about what you did wrong after your dragon landed, but we'll talk after the others have taken their turns. You need to get out of the way."
The blue pair wobbled off to the side and didn't hardly notice how the other six dragons flew, other that none of them overshot the landing zone as badly as Qancith did. Finally, H'lee beckoned them up onto the ramp again. "What did you do wrong?" he asked.
K'so sniffled. He was still shaking, and Qancith had stopped several feet from the edge and sat down, refusing to get any closer for the time being. "H-h-he jumped u-u-up instead of o-o-out," K'so stammered.
"Good. Yes, he did. That gave him too much altitude to make a comfortable, gliding descent toward Roth and Seeth. When he tried to descend, he came in too steep and over-corrected. The next several bumps were over-corrections. However, he did a nice job at getting turned around, and didn't over-correct there, even though it would have been easy to do." At least it wasn't ALL criticism! Qancith perked up a little at that small praise.
"Alright, that's all for today! Your dragons need their lunches!"