Domain Expertise

Xanadu Weyr - Clearing
A wide clearing stretches from east to west, the ground packed hard although grass grows across most of it. Trees are strictly forbidden in this space, their danger to the constant draconic traffic reason enough to banish them to the forest that creates a border to the north. Where the ground is less trampled, tiny flowers poke their delicate heads out from their shaded hiding places.
The cliff looms imposingly on three sides, stretching upwards all the way up the side of the rock edifice where, high above on Xanadu's Star Stones, the ever-present watchdragon sits on the lonely peak. Directly south is the hatching arena, the large round complex taking up a large portion of the perimeter, a line of trees visible beyond it. Southeast are wide steps leading up to the caverns and eastwards is the large entrance to the Infirmary. Somewhat north of the infirmary is a human-sized archway that has a frequent quantity of traffic — it leads to the Wandering Wherry Tavern. Tucked neatly under the arch, to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Petals and Pots Garden Shop'. Southwest lies cliffs where windows for the administrative offices have been cut. Underneath them are the entrances to the crafters complex while north and west along the cliff's base, a broad path leads to the feeding grounds. Due north is the spacious trail that leads to the rest of the Weyr - the meadow, the forest beyond. At the far edge of the clearing, beside the trail leading to the forest sits a clocktower.

Day is dawning at Xanadu, bright and clear. Jethaniel makes his way to a waiting green dragon. Her rider leans against the green's side, pulling himself upright at his passenger's approach.

"All ready?" the rider asks.

Jethaniel nods, and the rider swings onto his dragon, then extends a hand for the techcrafter to join him.

Wings unfurl and launch into the sky, and moments later, the green vanishes between.

Three heartbeats later, she emerges to a sultry day, the sun hours ahead in the sky. The weather here is tropical hot, but there's a cooling breeze from the deep blue ocean that takes up half the horizon.

The dragon glides down to a landing with an audience; children, mostly, giggling and pointing. Dragons are hardly unknown here at Cove Hold - sometimes, there's even one in residence - but they're still noteworthy.

One of the older children, a boy with shaggy black hair and gray eyes, slips away as he gets a good look. He jogs back toward one of the main hold buildings.

The dragon touches down, and Jethaniel nods. "Thank you," he tells the rider. "I shall try to be efficient."

Her rider chuckles. "Don't you worry. We'll just be on the beach when you need us." The green spreads her wings for the short hop to the beach, and many of the excited children follow. Maybe she'll go swimming. Maybe they can help bathe her! Ooh. Baths are much more fun when they involve dragons.

For a moment, the remaining children look at Jethaniel and he looks back at them. It might turn into an impasse, except…

"Jethan!" A strong voice, well used to carrying halfway across the cove. Jethaniel turns to see a gray-haired woman approaching. She must be nearing sixty turns, her face wrinkled and roughened by the sun but her stride still bustling. A woman with many things to do, but right now, she's striding to Jethan and flinging her arms around him.

"Hello, mother," Jethaniel says, and smiles as he hugs her back.

She squeezes him tightly for a moment, then draws back just enough to look him over. "You're doing well? They're feeding you right?"

"Yes, mother."

If Jethaniel hoped to say more, he has no chance for it. "You should have told us you were coming, I could have put something up for you." Jessa shakes her head, frowning just a moment before breaking out into a grin again. "Still, it's good to see you. Are you still at that Weyr, then? You haven't written in so long!"

"I have been busy," Jethaniel observes, and there's a slight wry twitch to his lips. "I am still at Xanadu Weyr, yes. In fact, there's something there I hope you can help me with."

"What, me?" says Jessa, and shakes her head. "Oh, I don't know about Weyr business. Haven't been to one in turns. Your father's not been doing the Eastern run as often. Pirates, you know, and we're both getting on."

"Nevertheless," says Jethaniel.

"Well!" she says, beaming. "Of course, of course, if there's anything I can do… but there's no point standing out here in the hot sun talking. Come on then." She turns and heads back the way she came, with Jethaniel falling into step beside her. "Those flowers there are new, that cousin of yours is experimenting again. And we've redone a couple of the cottages - oh! Will you be staying the night?" Her hopeful look is dashed by a shake of Jethaniel's head. "Well, you'll be glad to know we've got the electrics in them, anyhow." The patter of commentary continues until they reach the main hall.

Inside, it's bright and airy, with a high ceiling and windows flung open to let their curtains flutter in the breeze. Set out on a table is a small array of food and drink for late breakfasts - pastries, sliced fruit, a pot of porridge on an electric warmer with brown sugar and other things to go in it. Jessa glances at it, and sniffs.

"You just sit down, Jethan. I'll be right back with something for you to eat." Before he can protest, she bustles off to the kitchen, leaving him to settle himself on a small table near a window.

A few moments later, Jessa returns with a heavy plate. There's cold glazed porcine, freshly sliced fruit, a mess of greens and beans, and a glass of iced tea to go with. "Here you are," she says, beaming. "I got you tea, though I suppose you're still drinking too much klah. This one's a nice one, though. Got some of that hibiscus in it. And I sent one of the boys to let your father know you're here, he should be finishing his morning tour soon."

Jethaniel regards the plate. "Thank you," he says, and the expectant look on his mother's face is enough to prompt him into eating. She watches with pleasure as he does, until finally he's had enough of the meal that she's willing to let things turn to conversation again.

"So," says Jessa. "What is it you want help with? You're not in some sort of trouble, are you?" She gives him a searching look.

"No," says Jethaniel. "Nothing of the sort." He pauses a moment, considering. He's not, is he? Not in the colloquial use of the word, anyhow. "They've made me Steward."

Jessa's eyes widen. "They have?" Her hands clasp in front of her, and she beams to him. "Oh, Jethan, I knew you'd do well for yourself someday!"

"I was doing quite well before."

"Yes, yes, your techcraft thing, but Steward! That's a real honor, you know."

"I suppose it is." Jethaniel mulls that over for a moment, then lowers his gaze to his plate and has another bite.

"I know you'll do just wonderfully at it!"

"Perhaps," says Jethaniel, and has a sip of iced tea. "That's rather why I wished to speak to you. I have… little experience in that regard."

"Oh, well, assistant headwoman's not quite the same thing," Jessa says, and Jethaniel nods acknowledgement as she continues, "But we do work rather closely, and of course I'll tell you whatever I can. Now-"

Jessa stops mid-sentence as a figure appears in the doorway. He's a squarely built man in his late fifties, with gray hair that's gone thin but is still holding on.

"Lianiel!" Jessa calls, rising from her seat and heading toward him. "Oh, this is so wonderful! Jethan's here, and do you know what?" She doesn't wait for an answer. "He's been made Steward!"

"What? Here?" The new arrival looks between the two of them.

"No, no, of course not, but… oh! Wouldn't that be wonderful?" Jessa turns back to her son. "Once you've been, it's easy to transfer, you know. You could come back here, settle down… Myrah's gotten quite pretty, you know, and still not wed…"

"Never mind that," Lianiel interrupts. "What's going on?"

Jethaniel rises to his feet, leaving his half-eaten plate behind. "Hello, father," he says with a slight nod. "Xanadu has made me Steward."

"That so?" his father asks, then reaches out to clap him on the shoulder. "Well done, boy."

Jethaniel nods gravely. "I thought it best to come consult with a domain expert," he says, inclining his head toward his mother.

Jessa laughs. "You just come visit anytime, you hear? Don't be thinking you need an excuse. Now then, the first thing you'll want to do is make a list of-"

And after the first thing, there's the second, and the third, a veritable list of things to do, not do, and sometimes do. In between, there's subtle and not so subtle commentary on the attractive young ladies of Cove Hold and how nice it would be to have Jethan home again. There's also a lunch and an early dinner, and it's late afternoon by the time Jethaniel returns to Xanadu, fortified with information and home cooking.

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