I'd Take Mine Off But There's a Cow in the Way

Fort Weyr - Feeding Grounds

Milling herdbeasts dot this lightly grassy section of the southern end of the bowl. Fences keep them neatly secured on all sides, even extending into the lake, allowing the beasts ample drinking water without granting them an escape. Dragons young and old come here to hunt on a fairly regular basis, though not all come at once of course. From here you can easily make out the entirety of the Weyr's lake as it spreads out south and southwest to the tumbled rubble of the far shore, while the rest of the bowl lies beyond the fences to the southeast, east and northeast.


Snow and ice even in the summer. Fort is a cold place. Nymma looks none too happy about this as she emerges from the guest weyrs, wrapped in layer after layer of coats and scarves, faintly grumbling as she trudges away from her temporary home.

Well, it's really more like leftovers from a freak, fast-moving thunderstorm with lots and lots of hail that's fallen to accumulate a few inches deep, but it's melting now that the sun is out again. Which means soon there will be lots of mud, how nice! Edani doesn't seem to mind, but he's focused on one of the herdbeasts, not the weather. The tall young man is leaning with forearms on the top rail, brown eyes fixed on the heifer intently when the grumbling from Nymma is heard. Without turning his head he manages to greet whoever it is with, "Watch the path, it's slippery."

Icy mud. Even better. Unfortunatey for Nymma, the layers of scarves wrapped around her head also make it difficult for her to hear the warning being sent her way. "What was tha… eeeeee!" The squeal at the end of that comes from Nymma hitting a particularly slippering patch, leading to her flailing her arms wildly and plopping right down in the mud in spectacularly undignified fashion. "Owww…"

The heifer bawls at the same moment that the girl behind him squeals. Really it's quite interesting how the two sounds merge into one forming a dissonant sort of plaint though each for different reasons. It's as if the two are linked in some way because as the girl goes down, the young bovine drops to her knees, her hindquarters following in an awkward lurch of hips to lie in the mud just beyond the fence. That 'Oww' though. There's no way that could have come from the cow and so Edani peers over his shoulder, dark brows twitching up before he silently squelches though the mud and extends a hand to help her up. Nymma, not the 'beast.

Nymma tries to play it off like she's fine, but quickly realizes she's been spotted. Sighing, muffled by her scarves, she accepts the hand to help her pull herself out of the mud and back onto her feet. "Thanks." She murmurs, embarassed. "… I'm covered in mud, aren't I?"

Edani's hands are work-hardened, his grip is firm and he easily hauls the girl to her feet. "Now that you mention it…" His dark eyes travel down her form before returning to her face, "Yes." Then he smiles briefly, though it doesn't quite reach his eyes, leaving them somber. Still, he's not glaring or anything like that. Perhaps he's used to seeing people mussed - he's not by any means mud-free himself. His boots, of course, are covered with it and the legs of his jeans are be-splattered with a fleck or two on the loose-fitting shirt of pine green. "Here," he says as he guides her to the fence, "You hang onto that and if you want to, follow it on down towards the bowl entrance. It goes quite a ways." So saying, he releases her and takes a few steps to a large hide satchel open on the ground by the fence.

"Thank you." The heavily embarassed Nymma mutters under her scarves as she carefully moves to the fence, clinging onto it for dear life. The confirmation about the state of her heavily muddied clothes has her practically growling with frustration. "Please tell me the drudges are doing laundry here today." She pleads.

Edani is by now squatting beside that bag and rummaging around in it. While he pauses to roll his sleeves up, he flicks a brief glance up at her and shrugs his ignorance. "If they're not, I'm sure they wouldn't mind letting you have access to the washing area so you can do it." Into the pause of silence, the heifer bawls, her sides heaving as she pants. There's a sound of metallic tools clinking as the young man shifts them aside, the snapping rubber gloves as he gets them onto his hands. He scoops up his tools, ducks under the top rail while stepping over the bottom one and kneels beside the downed heifer. The normally skittish creature is too uncomfortable to be aware of him, that's obvious. He's examining her, so that's where his gaze remains, but he notes idly, "You're gonna roast in all those scarves."

"I was trying to keep warm." Nymma grumbles as she slowly edges her way along the fence, clinging to it. "Where exactly is this washing up area? Please tell me it isn't outside." The glum tone in the girl's voice suggests she's very worried it will be. The downed herdbeast earns a concerned look as the tumbling trader finally realizes something might be up here. "Is she okay?" So observant.

"It's warm now," Edani points out, hands moving gently over the beast's belly. Her comment about the bathing cavern prompts a very a perplexed look awarded to Nymma. "Why on Pern would it be outside? They get winter here." If summer is like this, the implication is, then winter is much worse and bathing in blizzards is quite unthinkable. He's far more concerned with the poor herdbeast than her worries and her question regarding the animal draws a quick headshake. "She's calving, but labor isn't going as it ought."

"I come from Western. It's never this cold there. There is /ice/ on the ground." Nymma protests, pout hidden by her scarves. "Where is it, then?" As eager as she is to get de-muddied, she can't help but be concerned for the beast. She seems uncertain. "… Do you need help? Can I do anything?"

"Melting ice," corrects Edani with a mild chuckle that quickly catches in his throat as the heifer moans. "Just though the main caverns," he says with a headtilt towards the general direction. Though on the heels of her question - which he probably didn't hear due to his preoccupation, he's holding out a handful of tools - large tongs, clamps and a sharp knife. "Hold these?" Yep, it means she'll need to step though the rails and wade a few steps into calf-deep muck to take them, but Edani isn't heading her way. Instead he's shifting to kneel, unconcerned about the mud himself while one hand disappears into the nether regions of the cow. Sorry Bessie!

Nymma had such a nice day planned. She was going to be having a great time enjoying the sights of Fort in her nice clean clothes. Now, covered in mud and who knows what else, she makes a disgusted sound as she wades through the muck, reaching out to take the tools with gloved hands. She looks alarmed. "… What are these for?" Someone hasn't done this before, clearly.

Edani's hand - up to his elbow - has disappeared inside the cow and it looks like he's going to keep going. Indeed he doesn't stop until he's up to his armpit, turning his head to one side as he feels around inside the animal. "You'll see." The words are grunted - it's hard work turning a calf still inside it's mother. And indeed Nymma will if she doesn't pass out first. The heifer bawls a series of short protests, her sides ripple with a contraction and Edani freezes, his face paling while the muscles bunch on his jaw as he clenches his teeth. When it passes, he draws a shaky breath and the 'oww' is exhaled before in a stronger tone he commands, "Take off your jacket."

This is all clearly very far outside Nymma's comfort zone. Her eyes go wide in surprise and fear at the sight of the man literally shoving most of his arm inside the animal. "Er…" The sound she makes is uncertain, but she evidently doesn't feel like arguing with that commanding tone. Careful of the tools, she sheds her already muddy jacket and tosses it back on the fence, hoping it lands. The tunic underneath is fairly thick, but she still shivers at the chill from the air.

"You'll need that," he nods to the jacket. So she's going to have to slog back over to the fence and get it. Poor Nymma! Had a nice day is probably right. When she's got it, between grunts and gasps as he works, he tells her, "Now lay it on the ground (aka mud) beside me and place the tool handles towards me on top of it and go to her head, please." So her jacket is going to be his operating tray. How…wonderful?

This is really, really not Nymma's day. Likely, this will be the last use she gets out of this particular jacket. Which is a shame, because it looks like a nice jacket. Grumbling, she fetches it and lays it on the mud with a sullen look, then obediently moves to the beast's head, completely uncertain. "Couldn't we have used your jacket?" She complains.

Edani doesn't quite eyeroll at her question. "I'd take mine off, but there's a cow in the way," he says with a trace of mild sarcasm, then grimaces as another contraction pins his forearm to the inside of the cow's pelvis. Then it's back to the business of wrestling the calf into place. His forehead is beaded with sweat, hair damply sticking to it when he pulls his arm out with a squelching sound and take a deep breath. "Grab her front legs behind the knees, hang on good and tight and when I say pull, you need to set your feet and lean all your weight into it." So… Cow tug of war? Looks like it. Those wicked-looking tongs go into poor Bessie it take him a moment to situate them before brown eyes meet blue. "Ready? Pull!"

"Yeah, but I mean… before you… oh, nevermind." Nymma would pout and grumble more, but there are slightly more pressing issues at the moment. "She… she's not going to kick me, is she?" After getting some sort of assurance that the cow is not, in fact, going to kick her, she moves over to awkwardly grab at her legs, attempting to follow the instructions given. She's not a terribly strong girl, but she does her best to pull as hard as she can.

"Herdbeast kick with their hind legs," Edani answers matter-of-factly while waiting for her to get herself in place. He's the one by the hind legs, but the fact that he doesn't seem at all worried he might get kicked is revealed when he adds, "And then they only kick forward, towards their belly. So don't ever duck underneath one." What she'd be doing that one would have to wonder, but as he hasn't even asked her beforehand whether she's used to being around them now might be the time to inform her, "They don't bite, but watch those horns, eh?" And then when she pulls, he's ready on the other end, leaning back putting all his weight into the effort. With all that force, something's got to give - and give it does. As Nymma gets a close up (the heifer's face is inches from her own at this point) view of bug-eyed reproach from Bessie and a scream-bawl that may well haunt her dreams for turns to come, Edani winds up with a newborn calf drawn by the tongs around it's front hooves. Aww!

"Couldn't they use the front legs too? Like a… punch?" Nymma clearly does not know her animals very well. With panicked wide eyes, she holds as steadily as she can, staying well clear of those horns after she gets that advice. Once the calf is free, she regards it with wide eyes. "Oh. That's…" The miracle of life? A joyous birth? "… Really gross." Weak stomach, here. "So many disgusting fluids, and smells… ugh." Still, there is some other concern. "… Are they both okay…?"

"Herdbeast are…" grunt "Prey animals…" more grunting "they'd rather run before…" POP!!! Baby born. Edani takes a deep breath, cradling the calf, his brown eyes tender, the herder checks the newborn over while finishing absently, "…trying that, and then they'd use their horns to gore you. Or just run you over trying to get away if you cornered them." Meanwhile he's using his finger to clear its mouth and nose, hunks of snot cleared before the creature bleats. Yeah, gross indeed. He looks up at that comment and gives her a bit of a crooked smile. "Oh that's nothing. You wait a few minutes. You can let go the legs now and c'mere." He holds the calf out for her to take. "I think so, I'll know when she expels the afterbirth." Oh… joy?

Nymma is looking increasingly green, perhaps at very real risk of losing the contents of her stomach. "Why do they serve such heavy breakfasts here…?" She murmurs to herself, pressing her scarves against her mouth to try to suppress gagging. Yet somehow, she can't look away.

Edani gently piles the calf into her arms, arranging them to hold the slippery creature more securely with deft fingers that are oddly gentle despite his clinical manner regarding the whole thing. "Thanks," he tells her briefly before twitching a string he'd tucked over one ear to tie tightly around the hanging cord close to the calf's belly. There's another string over his other ear, this also gets tied several inches away. He stoops to take the knife lying on Nymma's jacket, neatly and swiftly cuts the cord. Meanwhile mama cow is heaving and just as Edani kneels, the fluid and placenta arrive in his hand… on his chest and lap. He's splattered with goo but doesn't seem to notice, nope. He's examining the steaming organ, unmindful about green complexions. The cow, meanwhile, is struggling to her feet, but from behind Nymma there's a whuffling at the back of her neck that couldn’t be from either mother cow nor just-born baby. "Good news! There are no pieces miss-" The Beastcrafter glances up, inhales and says softly, "Ahh… Miss? Don't. Move."

This is really, really not what Nymma wishes she was doing right now. She closes her eyes midway through the delivery of the afterbirth, but the slippery slopping sound still manages to induce a shudder. "Gonna be sick…" She says, her closed eyes just making the smell all the worse. When he issues his warning, her eyes shoot open and she freezes still. "Wh… what? Why? What?"

Edani would tell her not to upchuck on the calf, but he doesn't because, "Oh nothing," he sing-songs casually, scooping up the girl's sodden jacket and the instruments with one hand while reaching for her elbow with the other. "Just…. walk this way, that's it. Keep the baby close to you," he murmurs leading her towards the gate very slowly. He's steadying her through the mud so she doesn't fall while behind them plodding sounds of eight heavy hooves follow. The warm whuffs continue down the back of Nymma's neck snort curls puffs of steam past her. "You did really well, Miss. You're a natural. You should consider the Beastcraft." Edani is downright chattery now, his voice soft and easy, calming to… whom exactly? Maybe to the girl, but also to something else.

Nymma looks terrified, her wide eyes just a touch away from outright and complete panic. Thankfully, she retains just enough composure to follow the instructions, very slowly edging towards Edani, her voice just a little more than a whisper. "There's something behind me, isn't there?" She squeaks. "It's going to eat me, isn't it? Something wants to eat me. Oh shards."

Edani chuckles despite the situation, "Not unless you're a vegetable." To distract her, he nods to the calf she's got in her arms, "Look at him, isn't he cute?" And he is - see those big brown eyes and that wee little nose nuzzling her- oops. She's not Mama. He's still got the afterbirth in his free hand, so uses his elbow to nudge the latch of the gate up, his shoulder bumping it open and he backs out of the feeding pens with her in tow, allowing Mama Cow to follow them. Then he shuts it, hits the latch closed with his elbow again. Only then does he breathe a sigh of relief and swear creatively and steadily. "When I find out who put a bull in the feeding pens- !" And thankfully no dragons came to feed while they were in there.

Nymma looks at the calf with wide watery eyes as she makes her way carefully out of the pens, taking a deep breath of relief once she feels she is safe from the horrible thing lurking behind her. On the verge of tears, she looks at the little calf in her arms and attempts to hand him over. "He is cute. But he is also very slimy and gross and smells very bad." She shudders, looking nervously back over her shoulder. "… I have never needed a bath so badly in my entire life."

And she didn't get trampled by Papa bull either. It's a win-win! Dumping the soiled tools beside his bag, he offers her poor muddy jacket back while shifting the calf tenderly into his arms. "Aw, he just smells like damp fur. He's clean." Unlike the both of them. Her comment draws a half-smile, "Down to the main cavern, hang a right. And if you ask around, the headwoman will see you get something nice from stores to replace what you're wearing. Thanks again for helping, ah… Miss? I never did get your name. I'm Edani." He'll wait to hear her response then he'll lead the patient cow to the proper pens for new mama herdbeast and their offspring. Being dragon dinner will wait for another time. Today is her lucky day, apparently. As for Edani, needing a bath or not, it'll have to wait hours for him. He's got other beasts to check on.

"Nymma." The sniffling trader girl responds, shivering and shell-shocked for a moment. "It was… uhm… nice to meet you, Edani. I… I hope the animals are all okay. If you'll excuse me, I really, really need a bath and clean clothes. You can… uhm, keep the jacket." She sure won't be wearing it again.

At least he didn't try handing her the placenta - which he's still got in the other hand (he'll dispose of that where it won't draw in wild animals to attack the herdbeasts). "My pleasure," he says with a little bow, giving her a baffled look when she won't take her jacket back. "But… It won't fit me?" The jacket is given a longer, more critical look. It is rather… filthy. While he could say that it's just mud, he doesn't. Instead, "Ah, yeah, I see what you mean. Sorry about that." His chagrin is clear, but he manages, "Go on. I'll see about getting you another one." And then he starts walking away, baby in his arms and the mama following. She's not letting him out of her sight, so it's an easy thing to get her in the aforementioned pen.

Nymma will just have to remain grateful that she was not given a disgusting handful of placenta. That's the one non-traumatizing aspect of this little outing. "Yeah. Better just use that for… I don't know, bedding, or whatever they'll use it for." She really just doesn't want to put one something that's been through that. She shudders again. "Just… do me a favor and see if they can send clean clothes to the bath, okay?" And off she goes, eager for glorious cleanliness.

See… if he can what?! He'll be up in the pastures for hours. She'll be sitting in the baths waiting for clothes a looooooong time if she's relying on him to relay that message. "Just ask the headwoman or one of her assistants to send them in to you?" He calls that after the departing Nymma then with a headshake he turns with a chuckle to do his own work, "I don't think even holders're as helpless as that one seems to be."

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