It's Only Money

Xanadu Weyr - Wildflower Boutique
Whitewashed walls form the canvas for the colourful array of flower, garden and decorative goods that are to be found lining the shop's polished shelves and smooth granite countertops. Around the edge of the room, a slim metal frame supports deep glass buckets in which a variety of freshly-cut flowers sit to be selected for bouquets and arrangements from as few as half a dozen stems to much grander affairs. Above them, shelves contain a selection of clay, glass and stone vases, handheld gardening equipment and decorative stock, such as ribbons, small cans of waterproof paint and fancy paper wrapping. Fertiliser, pots and troughs are kept on display outside and beneath an adjustable awning in-case of rain, a wider range available upon request.

Three islands in the centre of the shop floor provide space for gift items and the like, including metal flower pins, single ornamental stems for vases, and taller metal blooms to be stood in gardens. A price list notes them as crafted by Ka'el and also available in precious metals such as gold and silver. Other items on the counters include a range of small bouquets deliberately designed with firelizard delivery in mind, meadow-themed silver jewellery, and small gift-baskets containing the seeds and markers needed to start small herb gardens and plant window boxes.

The main service counter is situated along the back wall, where a list of bouquet prices and other fresh flower products, including circlets, arrangements for special occasions, and petals by the bag can be seen on a large chalk board hung on the wall.

There’s quite often a lull in traffic around mid-afternoon, and so it’s during this quiet period that Marel has chosen to seat herself at the main counter of the shop and go through some of the recent records, the book she has open before her full of rows and columns of numbers, along with the names of suppliers. Save for the company of the group of firelizards draped all over the driftwood structure at one end of the counter, the brownrider is alone, and so her murmurings must be to the little, pale gold who chirps her own contributions now and then, or just to herself.

Calisiya is window shopping with the excitement of a new face to a place. It’s all things that she’s never seen before. She’s spent such a short amount of time in a weyr anyway and Ierne weyrhold hardly counts. She’s been going to and fro without any particular order. A horrible shopper, the most inefficient thing possible but for her it’s about the experience and eventually she slips into Marel’s shop. Her hands go behind the small of her back and a shy, albiet cheerful expression slips over her lips and face. “Hello?” She begins to Marel. “Chirp.” She says to the gold, hoping that it isn’t a curse word in firelizard. “I was wondering if you could help me, maybe?”

Marel glances up when Calisiya moves into the shop, yet she soon refocuses on those numbers, knowing better than to blatantly watch a customer for the time they’re inside the building. However, when it’s clear that perhaps she should redirect her attention to her, she does, though at first it’s to glance between Rescue (the gold) and Calisiya as if they might carry on a conversation without her. “What is it that you’re looking for?” she enquires, just as Rescue sips up onto her right shoulder and plants herself there. “Or is it directions that you’re after?”

Calisiya stands just inside the door and doesn’t begin wandering around until Marel begins speaking to her. She wouldn’t want to bother her. “She’s very pretty.” She compliments. “Tell her for me?” Then she begins to wander with her hands still behind her back, inspecting and thinking. “Well. I just moved here. This morning. I’m very new. And they gave me a hole in the wall for a place to live and I’m used to living outside and this isn’t going to do. I’ve got color up everywhere but I need the brightest and biggest things you can give me. Things in pots that are hard to kill and will flower really brightly. Then I need some of those lamps they invented here so they won’t wilt and die in my hole in the wall.” Can anyone tell that she’s not happy about the hole in the wall?

Marel inclines her head a little, though that’s the only indication that she’ll do as Calisiya has requested. “Am I to take it that you don’t have a window?” she questions, slipping down from her seat. “Pots that will support the root system of anything too big are going to take up a lot of floor space. …Do they object to you making holes in the walls of your… hole in the wall?” She stops only a step or two away from the counter, drawing herself up to her full height as she surveys the stock in the immediate vicinity. “Also, anything with a lot of pollen will create a living nightmare in an enclosed space, so you might need to compromise for coloured leaves, rather than flowers, in some cases.”

Calisiya hates it when reality rains on her parade. It’s like the worst thing ever. She had it all figured out in her head and the almost deliriously cheerful smile on her face goes to a frown. “Dammit.” Well, that’s her thoughts on that. It really does rain on her parade hard and her expressive face doesn’t help much. It really does look like Marel just kicked her puppy. Hard. “Well, um.” Shoot. ” … can you help me, then? I need to do something with this. It’s a room in the crafter’s cavern. Solid rock, no windows. If I don’t do ~something~ with it, I’m going to die in there. I was… hoping.” She frowns more. “Let’s… what do you suggest?”

“I suggest that you turn one of the walls of your room into a garden,” Marel answers absolutely deadpan, maybe oblivious to how strange her response might sound. “You’ll want floor space, especially if you’ve no window to make the place look bigger, and large pots are just apt to get in the way. If you can have indentations carved into one wall, you could fill them with all sorts of trailing plants and flowers. It would take some looking after, but I think it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a sense of the outdoors, plus the colour that you want.” At least she’s honest when she warns, “It might not be cheap to start it off, but it should last and grow.”

Calisiya listens to Marel very attentively, visualizing it as she goes. “That sounds . . ” She begins. “Well, that sounds lovely.” She can see it now, one wall all devoted to plants and things. Her riotous swirl colored carpet around it . . her eyes close, then open and she smiles the same extra-cheerful smile she had when she came in. “Can you do it? All of it? The carving, the pots and all of that? And make sure they start off the right way? I know . . it’s a big job, but do you have the time?”

Marel hesitates, though it could be only to collect her thoughts. “I don’t have the understanding to do the carving without running the risk of structural damage, so you’d have to ask someone in the right craft to do that.” Deep breath. “If you want me to do the rest, we’ll have to go through a design stage and you’ll need to sign off on what you’re willing to spend. I’ll also need a non-refundable twenty percent deposit based on the total agreed on for the work and goods. I don’t mean to cause offense, but if I order in stock and you back out, I run the risk of making a significant loss.”

“Offense?” Calisiya asks looking really surprised and her smile fading again. “Um, no, no. Not at all. I’d rather that you were up front about it. What if I just gave you seven hundred and fifty marks and had you handle finding the crafter and supervising it for me? And just do wonderful things until the bill is run out?” There is an innocent good cheer in her eyes, a trust that even if she doesn’t know Marel she won’t just run off with the money. “Basically, like, I give you the money and forget about it and I come back after a month when my posting actually starts and it’s all done.”

The brownrider’s eyes widen almost imperceptivity when that figure is named, and though she could keep silent and simply agree, Marel gives a tiny shake of her head and suggests, “How about we start with three hundred and if I need anything more, or I end up spending more hours on it than I anticipate, I’ll contact you? Because unless you want silver washed over the wall, I don’t see myself to finding a way to spending seven hundred and fifty. Even if I took five marks an hour for the work, I’d be running off with your money.” She doesn’t quite smile, but one corner of her mouth flicks upward. “And though I might not be willing to fleece you, I will need to see the marks before I do anything.”

“Silver washed over the wall would be like a mirror and I know better than to want to see my own reflection that often.” Calisiya smiles at Marel. “Hold on. I’ll be back shortly, don’t go anywhere.” The young woman leaves, leaving behind her the memory of someone who can’t be twenty and is talking sums like that. She comes back in less than an hour with a cloth sack that is put on Marel’s counter without the respect that much money should be given. “Three hundred.” Calisiya chirps. “My room is A-5. I haven’t really put much in the way of furniture there, here’s a spare key.” She’s smiling. This will be so much better than what she was planning. She just expected potted plants everywhere. She also has a paper with a contract on it, dated and signed, drawn up by someone who knew what they were doing. “So, here? I kind of left this open ended. I’ll trust you? It just says that you contracted to do the job, the details of the job, at five marks an hour? I don’t mind paying for really good work. If you do a good job you should get paid well for it.”

“I-” That’s about as far as Marel gets by way of reply before Calisiya is gone, and so she’s left staring at the door for a second or so, a vaguely confused kind of look exchanged with Rescue, along with a murmured, “…I don’t know.” By the time that Calisiya returns, she’s back at the main counter, back to going over those books, all five of the firelizards now asleep not so distant from her. Again, she stares for a moment, but all she says is, “I would not carry around that much money in general, you know,” in the manner of one used to having that much at their fingertips. There’s a glance between Calisiya and the contract, the latter of which she takes her time in reading, but faced with it being in order, the money there and a key provided, she must find it easy enough to sign. “You have an awful lot of faith in someone you’ve known for less than an hour.”

Calisiya slips her hands behind the small of her back again. It’s her favorite posture because it makes her look a little bit more impressive than her dimunitive height and hides her odd body shape. So, it’s a comfortable reflex that she always does when she’s at rest. “I don’t, usually. Though, I suppose I should have hired someone to escort me.” She shrugs, flippantly not concerned. That’s going to get her bitten someday. “Well, see, it’s only money right?” Calisiya says, peering the signed contract over. “You’re the only one that does this kind of work, you have a nice shop here, and I have no reason not to trust you. I’m not risking my life, or my heart or anything like that. It’s just money. If you screw me over, I’ll be mad, but why would you do that? You have a nice business here. It’s beautiful. Clearly it’s something you love and love doing, and why would you put that to risk? I think you’ll be wonderful and I’m excited!”

“If you go around telling people that it’s only money, then they’re just going to want to fool you out of it; people don’t like seeing people with more than them,” Marel says slowly, sliding the contract back to Calisiya, while she pulls the marks and key towards herself. “I might not have intentions of doing you harm, but…” Further down that road she does not travel right now. “If you have that sort of sum readily available, you might consider making it work for you. Investing it. It makes little sense for it to be hidden away somewhere when it could be earning more for you.” She manages to stop herself before she makes any further progress on that lecture to, and simply says, “I’ll need a few days to draw up plans and find an appropriate crafter. Then, we’ll begin.”

Calisiya nods. She understands that. She really does. “I’m not going to stand on a table in the living caverns and say I have money. Besides, that might be all I have.” She’s smiling, ever softly, but every widely. A gentle ray of light and cheer. “It’s good advice. I’ve heard it a few times before. But? To me it’s always going to be only money. Everything else is more important than that. I mean? Friends, making people happy, making sure I’m comfortable but not excessive . . it’s all more important. Coins are just coins, you know? Empty cold metal things. If I can throw a few of them away and make someone happy I probably would. But I’m not going to make a habit of it, then people come looking to you for more all of the time. I guess? I can replace coins, who cares. But I try to make sure I never lose sight of the things in life that make me happy and money isn’t one of them. It’s people. And so far, I’ve never been burned by anyone. I’m sure it’ll happen, but . . nobody’s ever hurt me yet.” She offers Marel one of her too-big hands. “I know you saw it in the contract, but I’m Calisiya. You’re Marel, but, hi.”

Marel is not unkind in the face of those beliefs, but she is impassive, her expression cool and bland, no argument offered rather evidently out of politeness more than any real agreement with Calisiya’s sentiments. “I understand,” she states a little crisply, when it may well be plain that she doesn’t – or just can’t risk having that much faith or interest in people herself. She accepts Calisiya’s hand and shakes it a single time before retreating into her own space again. “Well met. I will do my best to give you what you want, without making it too high-maintenance.” And that seems to be that.

“Well, if you make it too high maintenence I’ll just have to pay you to maintain it.” Calisiya smiles that out and her politeness too, means she doesn’t invade Marel’s privacy and ask about her non-beliefs. She’s who she is, just like Calisiya is who she is. “I’ll be back in two weeks, I’ll check then. I’ll be at Ierne Weyrhold until then? If you need me quickly, have a dragon get ahold of Ebeny’s green Laurieth there. It’s really the only point of contact I have.” She gives Marel a long, very genine smile, waves to her, and is out the door. Zip!

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