There's More to a Tuber Than Meets the Eye

Said Aristotle unto Plato,
'Have another sweet potato?'
'Thank you, I prefer the bottle.'

Xanadu Weyr - Garden


An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It
is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place. On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.

Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.

The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also eluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic. The two paths leading away from the entrance have come full circle, wrapping around to meet each other on the other side, yet still continue on to the far left and right. One path leads off deeper into the surrounding woods, while the other wider; cheerily decorated with brightly colored slabs of painted stones.

Cenlia has her head head under some shrubbery and seems to be digging up weeds - or playing in the dirt; either way, she's getting getting the knees of her pants good and dirty.

Thea is jogging. And you can tell she's really enjoying it. Not really, actually; she's all sweaty and hot and bored by the look on her face. Little wisps of her hair have escaped from her runner-tail plastered themselves on her neck and forehead. As she passes under the shade of a tree, she stops to rest, pauses to blink at the… feet coming from under the shrub. "Hello." Yes, she talks to feet.

Cenlia backs out from under the shrubbery, knocking dirt from a tiny, handspan-long shovel with a particularly pointy tip. She straightens up at the voice, and looks over towards Thea with a smile, replying, "Oh, hello!" Standing, Cenlia places the little shovel in a pocket on her belt and dusts off her hands. Dusting more dirt from the knees of her pantlegs, Cenlia brushes several stray locks of hair out of her eyes using the backs of her hands. The palms are crusted with dirt, and as the girl tries again to dust them off, she leaves dark streaks on her clothing. She says to Thea, "I'm Cenlia," and she smiles apologetically, looking at her soil-caked hands and politely not extending them to shake.

Thea wipes her face with a cloth she's been holding as she does, finishing up by patting her neck. She's breathing deeply, but fairly easily. "Since they have me learning names of folks all over Pern, I ought to learn yours, seeing you're here. You are…?" But then the girl is introducing herself, so Thea finishes her own question with a bit of a laugh, "…Cenlia. Well-met." She shakes the girl's hand without hesitation, not seeming to mind the dirt at all.

Cenlia tilts her head to the side, curiously, "Learning names of folks all over Pern?" And then, "Well-met, ah..?

"Warm out today," Thea comments unnecessarily, fanning her face a bit with the cloth. At Cenlia's confusion she explains, "Oh, it's a formal greeting we used to say back at Coldstone Hold, my home." She shrugs her shoulders, "And I have no idea what it's supposed to mean other than nice-ta-meet-ya." She laughs gently, answering Cenlia's other question, "All Weyrlings must learn who's who on Pern—who's Weyrleader, who's Lord Holder… They test us on it, too." She grimaces, then glances at Cenlia curiously, "New here?"

Cenlia rubs another stray lock back from her forehead and nods "Just got here- figured I'd jump right into work." She grins at the garden, "Though… there isn't all that much work to do, honestly. This place is really well tended."

Thea's eyes wander over the garden's lush flowers and trees briefly and she nods agreement, "That they do, thanks to all the folks coming and going—Candidates always being brought in for the eggs, and Weyrlings earning extra chores at times." She reaches for the water bottle hanging by her side, takes a swig and offers it to Cenlia. "So, what brings you to Xanadu

Cenlia nods, clearly admiring the place, "My uncle, more or less. I was learning farmcraft in South Boll, but my uncle insisted I get out of the orchards and go do something useful that didn;t involve peach brandy as the end result," she says this last bit with her eyes sparkling merrily, "…somewhere I hadn't been before, preferably where I'd be out of his hair. Got me sent here to tend the greenhouse, learn what I can, maybe pick up a few things from the folks over here." She pulls her gaze from the flowers and turns back to Thea, saying almost shyly, "So what is it like? Being a weyrling?"

Cenlia accepts the water bottle and takes a sip before handing it back with a thanks.

Thea laughs, delighted. "I've never tried peach brandy, but it sounds delicious. Just…" here she looks about as if for nearby ears who might hear lowering her voice a bit, "…don't let Ysa know about the orchards. She'll have you up on Ellamariseth and nipping some for her." She snickers a bit, then seriously considers Cenlia's question, "It's the most wonderful adventure and yet the hardest work I've ever done in my life." She adds wryly, "I do more cleaning than I ever imagined I'd be doing."

Cenlia giggles, "I'll keep that in mind. Still, it must be amazing. I'd never seen dragons up close till I got here - they're so…" she seems to be searching for the word, "big." she finally decides, lamely. "I'd never been close to anything bigger than a runner before-" and then she stops herself, with chuckle, "Ack, and now I'am sounding like a back country apple-picker."
Trying to dust off her hands again, Cenlia continues, "If you know any orchards nearby, when the fruit's ripe, I could probably whip up something interesting. Of course, it won;t be proper South Boll peach brandy, but guaranteed it'll be interesting."

Thea smiles, understanding in her eyes, "Nothing's wrong with that." Meaning apple-picking. "The dragons rarely flew over the mountains of High Reaches," She waves a hand towards the sky, "so I'd not seen any up close 'til I got here. Takes some getting used to." She leans her back against a tree trunk, "Oh you could? Hmm, I know that Black Rock Hold exports
some tropical fruit, but it's a ways… "

Cenlia's eyes seem to sparkle, and she gives Thea a lopsided grin, "Fruit can be turned into some wonderful things. I'll have to see, come harvest time; maybe I can give my uncle something to worry about." And boy, does he worry a lot.

Cenlia tries yet again to wipe off the dirt on her hands - but after smearing soil across her pantlegs for the third time, she seems to give up. "Ah well, done as much as I'm going to do today. I never thought I'd worry that a garden was too well-tended. At this rate, the headwoman might snag me for the kitchens. I think I made the mistake of mentioning I'd had some baking duties at the hold." She makes a sour face, "Not that I mind cookery, but I'm mortally afraid I'll actual like it and end up following my mother's example."

Thea snickers, "Yah, like dessert!" You can tell she's a real lush; she doesn't even mention cordials or rum. She gives Cenlia an amused look, "Well, if you end up liking it, you'd be… happy?" She doesn't pretend to be overly-philosophical, though. At that moment a bronze firelizard pops out of *between* right in Thea's face. He seems to take wicked delight in her
startled jump, chitters a complaint, then pops back out. Thea grumbles, "He always does that."

Cenlia grins, "That I do," and then blinks in surprise at the firelizard as it appears and then disappears, "Fast little things," she observes, still grinning. "Ah, my ma's stuck in the kitchens sunup till after sundown, and most times, before I got old enough to scramble up apple trees with my brothers, she'd drag me to the kitchens with her. I think I'd miss the sun, though." She turns her head skyward for a moment, "Speaking of which, are the sea waters warm after sundown here? I feel like I could probably dunk myself whole into the pond after today."

Thea forces herself to relax, "They can be. Ruin's just… difficult." She slants a look at Cenlia, "Oh, I see. I can imagine. I'm used to being outside a lot myself." She considers the girl's question. "The water's warm now after dark, but in winter… not so much." She hesitates, then offers, "Would you like to walk down there and see? Seryth is down there— it's why Ruin popped in so irritated. His… throne moved and woke him up."

Cenlia chuckles, "Interesting name he has. He's very pretty though. Oh, is Seryth your dragon?" She nods, "Sure, if you're not too busy?"

Thea smiles grimly, "Believe me, he's earned it." And she leads the way from the Gardens, nodding, "Seryth is mine, yes. Or as she tells it, I am hers." She scratches her back where the sweat has dried, unsticking her shirt. "Not busy now that I've finished my workout. They do let us relax evenings."

Cenlia scoops up some garden tools still lying beneath one of the shrubs, and taps the dirt out of them. Hooking the tools into her belt pouches, she follows Thea from the garden.

Xanadu Weyr - Beach


The unerring range of subdued white rises and falls in a multitude of sandy dunes, creating an endless amount of tiny valleys constantly demolished and rebuilt by the frequent arrival or departure of a dragon. Smoothing out as it slopes gently to the edge of the deep blue water, the sand darkens and a shell here and there stands out for children to collect. The beach itself is set along a low cliff - the height lessoning as one heads eastwards, blocking a portion of the beach from direct access.

The wide wide stretch of water opens up to the east, the far distant shore way beyond the horizon and the beach curves ever so slowly round to east and west, distant arms of land embracing the wind-ruffled Caspian Lake. East leads up to the mouth of the Rubicon River, where the protecting cliff is merely an arms length higher then the sand, and beyond that, a winding road leading out of Xanadu's territory. Westwards, the beach narrows as the cliff swings out, leaving a path wide enough for dragons in single file before cutting in to the sheltered cove designated the Weyrling Beach. However, cut in the cliff face to the north are a variety of rough, wide staircases, providing access to the clearing and to the meadow.

Cenlia arrives from the Meadow

Cenlia's eyes widen at the sight of the dragon, blurting out "Oh, she is beautiful." She glances at Thea, "How long until you're no longer weyrlings? And," glancing again at the gold dragon, "should I, er, be calling you ma'am?" Cenlia suddenly seems to remember that she has manners, and gives the gold dragon a respectful nod in greeting.

Thea steps onto the beach and waves a hand at the water, "It's usually calm evenings, unless a storm is brewing." The water is mirror-like, reflecting peachy-pink tones of the lowering sun. From near the water's edge, Seryth trills a greeting. Upon her neckridges where he is perched, Ruin adds a smug 'gotcha-croon' to Thea, remaining where he can see the lay of
the land. Thea smiles fondly at Seryth, "Thanks, I think so too. But please, call me Thea—we have several weeks yet, so no Ma'am yet. Thea is fine, really. This is Seryth; she's been out of the egg almost a turn." She slips out of her sandals, moves down to dip her feet in the cooling water's edge and beckons to Cenlia, "She likes people, come meet her."

Cenlia smiles, "Well-met, Thea and Seryth," and begins to remove her own shoes, as well as the tool belt, both of which she leaves well away from the water. She then jogs down to the water's edge. The first thing she does is clean off those hands! There, at least halfway respectable. Maybe.

Seryth watches the girl with interest; like all young ones, she's interested in everything and everyone. After giving her Rider an affectionate nudge, she snakes her neck to move her head nearer to Cenlia, giving a her a warm, jasmine-scented whuff. Serene blue eyes whirl as she blinks at the girl, a questioning trill quivers her throat. Thea answers aloud, mindful of
their visitor, "This is Cenlia, Seryth; she's new to the Weyr. Help me welcome her." Seryth tips her head so her headknobs can be scritched, if the girl so desires.

Cenlia follows Thea over to the dragon, Eyes bright with curiosity. She reaches out, with a questioning glance towards Thea, in case it's not allowed, scritches the dragon's headknobs very gently, as if she almost can't believe something like a dragon can be -touched-. At least her hands are clean now, though Cenlia says apologetically, "Sorry if a smell a bit like a
tuber; been digging in the dirt all day."

Thea nods encouragement to Cenlia, noticing the unspoken question and understanding. Being Holdbred comes in handy sometimes. Seryth croons sweetly in pleasure at the srcatch and leans into it—at least a little bit. No sense squishing a person on the first encounter. Thea grins at the girl's apology and after a beat says, "Seryth wants to know what a tuber is. She says she knows what dirt is and thinks it smells nice. Like when it rains."

Cenlia giggles a bit at the question, "Oh, it's a sort of root vegetable. They go great in stews, but will taste like the earth if they aren't cleaned properly before cooking… I wonder if I can get any to grow around here? I imagine this climate might be a bit humid for it, but there's some interesting things one can do with tubers after the ferment," and she gives Thea a
lopsided grin, "Can be quite the eye-opener, apparently."

Thea plops down on the sand, leaving her feet where the gentle waves can lap at them. She doesn't look too clueful about what can grow here and she doesn't mind showing her ignorance. "I…dunno if they'll grow here or not. We didn't grow stuff; we had herds of alpaca." She quirks a brow at Cenlia, "Eye-opener, eh? What fermented stuff do you get with
tubers? Fruit I understand, makes some nice sorta sweet stuff, like wine. But.. tubers?" She's curious now and her face shows that.

Cenlia sits down next to Thea, a little farther into the water, so her knees get a good soaking. Her grin widens and mischief sparkles in her eyes, "The kind of stuff my cousin Evrid swears will take burn your tongue off. I was never allowed near the stuff myself, but sure smelled like it could. My uncle near tanned Evi's hide when he found the stash." And now it's her turn to be curious, "What are alpacas like? My dad, before he settled down with my ma, he was a herder, though all he did was raise fowl." And the pained face she makes sums up her opinion of poultry.

Thea laughs outright at the expression on Cenlia's face. "They're like llamas, but smaller and sweeter in temperament. They have softer, silkier hair. Coldstone exported textiles made with it. And yarn as well. Luxurious stuff." She listens to the description of tuber-fermented product with a bit of a shudder. "It… doesn't sound like anything I'd want to put anywhere near my mouth, much less swallow."

Cenlia oohs appreciatively at the description of the alpacas, "Bet my da would've loved to see one up close. But my ma would prolly have tossed him out on his hat if he went near anything biggen than a fowl. Something to so with some accident with a runner… anyways, I think my sis, she's being fostered with a weaver I think, she'd probably love to get ahold of some of the yarn. Do you know if it gets exported far south?" Then she pauses for a moment, considering, and says "Yeah, I suppose tuber ale would be something to take in tiny doses. I wonder though… with sweetening…" She muses, but seems to be reconsidering. Keeping one's tongue intact is rather important.

Thea smiles thoughtfully, dabbling her feet about in the water for a moment or two, "Yes, we export to many Southern Holds and Weyrs. I am in charge of Coldstone's sales and presentation—it's how I came to be here. If she wants some, just have her contact me and I'll arrange it." She shudders again, commenting, "Sounds like… medicine." She rises reluctantly, "Well Cenlia, I need to get Seryth settled for the night. It was nice meeting you. Come by anytime." So saying, she silently calls the young gold in and together they head off towards the Barracks. As Seryth passes Cenlia, she rumbles parting whuff towards the top of her head.

Cenlia waves to the departing Thea and dragon, and grins, "Will do. Goodnight!"

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