A Chore Gone Wrong

Xanadu Weyr - Caverns

A massive cavern in it's own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as are the walls where numerous tapestries hang to provide brilliant color and insulation from the stone. The floor has been left in its natural state, pale pink granite speckled through with glittering mica and dark flecks of basalt, leveled carefully but kept sufficiently rough to avoid slips.

The cavern itself is loosely divided into areas, each one set up to be suitable for some segment of the Weyr's population. The most frequently occupied area, however, is the one near the Kitchens where tables of varying sizes provide a place to sit down and eat or chat and a buffet of consumables is almost always kept stocked. Its plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr and equally plain that on such occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are appropriated from all the other areas.

A big fireplace is set into the wall near the Kitchens as well, several comfortable chairs nearby providing haunts for elderly residents or riders who like a good view of all that happens. Rugs cover the floor in strategic spots, all of them abstract or geometric in design and most in the softly neutral colors of undyed wool.

Exits lead off in all directions, a big archway the largest and that leading outside. Shallow stairs to the west lead to the offices and administration area while tunnels to the east lead to the infirmary, kitchen and resident's quarters. Southwards, a sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs and southwest is a wide tunnel, carefully roped off to avoid accidents.

It would be a reasonable assumption that in the early afternoon people would be arriving in the caverns for their lunch, or to relax in general from the work of the morning. The rule does not hold entirely true for all, because Osric's arrival in the caverns is far from sedate, and it becomes almost immediately apparent that it's not food he's searching for. The fireplace is his first stop, checking each of the chairs and frowning when he doesn't find what he's looking for.

Natishen is tucked away near the hearth, a half-clothed child on his lap. Both of them are liberally wet, and the boy is trying, rather unsuccessfully, to get the toddler into his clothing. "Mercus, hold still!" At the Candidate's frustrated shout, the boy gurgles with laughter and squirms harder, trying to get off of his lap and escape into the caverns.

Avani is seated near the hearth, feeding Thor his "proper meal" of sliced wherry and spiced fishrolls. She's watching Natishen fiddle with his charge, amusement evident in her mud-green eyes. When she catches sight of movement nearby, she watches Osric for a moment, frowns, puts Thor's end of meal bubbly before the bronze and gets to her feet. "Need any help, Oz?"

Osric's face scrunches up a little as he considers his options, "No, no, I'm fine." But he keeps on looking around, even ducking down to look under a table. Standing once more he glances around and drifts back towards the hearth, standing looking between the two candidates there as if trying to choose the lesser of two evils. "Um.. Natishen? Can you…." he makes a little 'come here' motion with one hand, gaze drifting over to Avani as he sends a rather over-cheery smile in her direction.

Natishen is hardly an evil. More of an irritant, really. But he has a lot of growing up to do. He gazes helplessly at Osric, arms wrapped tightly around Mercus, not even trying to dress him now - just trying to keep him in check. One of the nannies, surreptitiously overseeing the chore, chooses that moment to take pity on the boy. "Here now, there's a love," she croons as she sweeps the toddler from Nash's lap. "Go help your friend, boy, but come back right after." The Candidate doesn't need a second invitation, and is out of his chair like a shot, skidding to Osric's side. Frying pan, fire.

Avani arches an eyebrow and gacefully resumes her seat. The fact that she's not sitting rather straight with her back to Osric is just chance, surely… Thor, finished his bubbly in the blink of an eye, eyes the remaining salted food before moving towards his mistress. Avani smiles and reaches into a pouch on her belt, "Okay, Lordling, time for your oiling then."

Osric tries his best to keep his voice low, but there's an edge of embarassed panic in it that means the majority of his conversation will carry to the hearth - at the very least enough to get the idea that he could well be in big trouble soon. "Um… listen. I've sort of lost… someone. And I need to find him soon before anyone realises I've misplaced him, because they won't be too happy. I swear I only turned my back for a second, but he looked really slow!"

Confusion. Nash stares at Osric as he babbles, scratching the back of his neck with a water-pruned hand as he tries to make sense of the older man's words. "Lost who?" Unlike the other Candidate, the boy is calm, and therefore he pitches his voice for his peer's ears alone. "Calm down, Osric, you'll not solve anything by panicking - unless you want the whole Weyr to know your problem? Take a deep breath and explain who we need to find." And just like that, he's willing to help.

If Avani overheard, there is no outward sign of that fact. She takes out her oiling cloth and dips it into the small pot of oil before starting to work over Thor's small form. Her back still to the group, her overly ridgid posture does relax slightly as she falls into the rhythem of oiling her firelizard.

The comment from Natishen brings back Osric's biggest, fakest, smile and a rather fake laugh that does little to cover up the fact that they're not talking about something nice and fun. "He's called Thom. He's sort of short-ish, dark hair, I don't think he's got any teeth but that didn't stop him babbling on all morning. Um…." He pauses, trying to think of more details that might help, "We were out in the bowl for a walk and I stopped to talk to the blonde girl from the kitchens. I swear it was only a second. Well maybe a couple, but he shouldn't have been able to get away that quickly."

Natishen shrugs a shoulder, but not to blow off Osric's clearly justified concern. Instead, it wakes up the tiny green firelizard perched there, her tail twined around his braid. "Chanteuse can help. If Mikado shows up, I'll send him out, too." He almost turns away then, then pauses, turning back with a frown. "How /old/ is Thom?" he asks, brow furrowing.

D'had isn't always all that observant, but some thing does happen to catch his ears as he strides into the caverns from the office. "Did I hear," he starts as he comes upon Orsic and Natishen. No, no he couldn't have heard that right, but still. "Ya lost.. someone?" Peer.

Avani finishes oiling her firelizard as D'had starts to approach the hearth. "Well, you heard him, Lordling. Smallish human. Dark hair. Young." The bronze chirps in agreement, firms making a turn on the table, next extended to give him a view of the people nearby, then he hops up and pops *between* reappearing near the ceiling to get a view of the Cavern's occupants. "Do you know that he was wearing by any chance? The colours at least?" Avani motions upward as she continues, turning towards her fellow Candidates, "It might help Thor's search."

Osric's reply to Natishen is mumbled at the floor instead of to the boy himself, "About eighty?" D'had's voice is the one that really makes his head snap back up, a denial dying quickly as he spots the knot and stares, open mouthed and wide eyed, instead. After a moment of out and out panic he does manage to find his voice again to reply to Avani. "Brown shirt, black trousers. He's got really big eyebrows too." His voice, first embarassed, thenpanicked, now settles down to resigned blandness.

"Eighty?" Natishen looks surprised. Clearly, he'd been expecting a child of the toddling variety, much like the one he'd just been rescued from. "Thom, Thom - Oh. I know who you're talking about now." Resignation sets in, along with a wry amusement he doesn't share with Osric. On his shoulder, the green cocks her head, studying the boy's face, then takes to the air, disappearing between. "She's gone to find Mikado, and they'll start looking." He glances at D'had out of the corner of his eye, offering a polite nod to the Weyrsecond. "Sir."

Avani shakes her head and sight, lifting a hand above her head for a single, circular wave. Thor swoops down from the place where he was circling. "Correction, Thor. _Old._" She closes her eyes for a moment murmuring the details as she adds them to her mental sketch, "Dark hair, a lot of eyebrows, brown shirt, black pants…" Thor pauses a moment, hovering before his mistress before he gives a chirp and pops *between* once more. This time, he doesn't reappear above, perhaps not having spotted anyone like that in the Caverns earlier. Only then does she seem to notice the approaching rider. She offers him a formal curtsey and nods her head, "Clear skies, Weyrsecond."

D'had quirks a brow at the given age and then well he chuckles. "Don't think it's gonna be quite as much worry you think it is," he replies for the boys. Now if it had been a child his reaction would likely have been different, but an old man is surely able to take care of himself until he's found. "But yeah, probably best ta find him. You know what'e likes?" That might give a clue as to where to start.

Osric mumbles a quiet "Thanks." to Avani, despite having tried to keep her out of the mess. He glances to Natishen, expecting laughter an registering genuine surprise when it doesn't seem immediately forthcoming. Even D'had's reaction takes him somewhat by surprise. He had tensed expecting some sort of punishment rained down on him, instead he has to think and the only thing he can come up with is, "He was going to ask one of the healers to marry him, only she wasn't in when we went past?" Loosely translated - he likes women.

"Mmmhmm. I think he asks that a lot," Nash mutters under his breath. "Aye Sir," he replies to D'had. "But them old ones, they can get themselves in trouble same as a kid. What if he falls down? If it's who I 'member it is, he ain't so sturdy as all that. And he might be a bit touched - but then again, most old people are," he adds with a grin. Rubbing the back of his neck, he tilts his head, staring across the cavern, then shrugs his shoulder. "So last place you saw him was where?"

Avani narrows her eyes at the younger lad, "I'd suggest you show your elders the proper respect, Natishen. Or do you not expect others to assit you when you reach that age yourself?"

"Yeah well.." D'had's had enough other things on his mind of late. And fall down or not, lets just hope that the old man has better sense than a five turn old. "Didn't say ya shouldn't find 'im," he replies, lips twisting in thought at the answer to his question. "Try the tavern?" That's his logical next guess of locations to check. An afterthought of a nod is sent in the way of greeting towards Avani. "Morning." It is still morning. Right?

"He's got that stick, but I don't think he really needs it. Just likes poking people with it." Osric smiles a little, relaxing now that nobody's yelled or tried to slap him. "We were outside. Just outside I mean, here seemed sensible." He does blink a little at Avani's comment, though shrugs to Natishen before replying to her, "He is a bit odd Avani." To the group as a whole he asks, "If you were old and pranking someone, where would you hide? Tavern?" He echoes D'ha'd suggestion, but doesn't seem entirely convinced.

Natishen rolls his eyes at Avani. "It was a joke, jeez," he retorts, eyeing the girl with distaste. "Live and laugh a little, already. And I've plenty of respect for my elders; Miss Moyra'd box my ears if I didn't." Ignoring her now with a flippant shrug of his shoulder, he turns back to Osric and D'had, just in time to catch D'had's suggestion. "Uhm. Maybe the infirmary. If he was after one of the healers, maybe he went back there. I can check there." Anything to avoid going near the tavern - they seem to take exception to someone his age lurking about. "Or maybe the baths?"

Avani presses her lips together and lets her breath out slowly from her nostrils. "You should respect them for better reasons then simply to avoid punishment," she offers evenly before turning towards D'had. "If you'll excuse me, Sir, I was just taking a break from my own Chores to feed and oil Thor. I should return to them now."

"Both good ideas," D'had replies, a shake of his head to follow. No, no there's a weyrwoman who would box his ears for thinking like that. … Again. "Like he's lookin for that girl," he adds towards Orsic, a nod directed at him, "Rather 'n tryin' ta prank you." Course, he could be wrong.

"Avani." Osric shakes his head, changing track to comment with a quiet, "Thanks for trying." To the others he nods, "So tavern, infirmary, or baths. Laundry maybe? Women and steam might be his… thing?" Rather than shortening the list of potential places he seems intent on adding to it. "Would have been so much easier if he had an obsession with pie."

Natishen mutters something under his breath; probably a good thing it's too low for Avani to hear. Distaste has turned to active dislike, and as he turns away to head towards the hot springs, he sticks his tongue out at her back. "Judgemental…" Trailing off, he shakes his head vigorously, trying to dispel the ill-feelings. Taking a long, deep breath, he glances at Osric and D'had. "I'm going to go check the baths," he says in an even tone. "It's important to help a fellow in trouble."

There the barest nod for Osric's thanks from Avani then, taking the lack of reply from D'had as consent, she turns back to the table, closing her pot of oil and folding the oiling cloth before putting both in her pouch. Before she leaves, she gives D'had another curtsey and then moves towards the exit.

D'had turns a glance after the girl and then back to the boys. "Good luck," he adds for them, a wave of a hand to send them off. He for one was in search of food, or at least klah. "I'll check in with ya later." See if they haven't gotten that all worked out by then.

Osric nods to D'had, though he does watch Avani leave before replying, "Thank you, Sir." With the panic of being caught by someone important gone completely his manners have returned. "Baths first?" This last is to Natishen, and he grins as he adds, "Maybe we'll be lucky." Realising how it might sound he adds quickly, "Might walk past him on the way, I mean."

Natishen gestures towards the hot springs. "They're right there, might as well check there first," he agrees. With Avani gone, he's calmed down, and a slight smile teases his lips. "Thank you, sir," he adds to D'had, nodding his head in the bluerider's direction before gesturing again, this time for Osric to lead the way.


Xanadu Weyr - Hot Springs

The warmth that flows from this cavern is almost overwhelming for some, the steam rising from the shimmering pools as thick as the morning fog that rolls in off the ocean. Numerous pools are scattered here and there with ribboned walls that are natural in their construction. The water has a somewhat green cast to it, but it is merely a reflection from the ethereal light which is the glow down here that was so noticeable from the Lower Cavern Tunnel. People can often be found down here washing themselves or just relaxing.

Situated along the walls are various racks covered in fresh towels ready for those who step out of the warm waters. A set of shelves have been installed towards the back wall, allowing people a place to put their belongings while they rest in the pools, and despite the white color that these have been painted, they are cast with that eerie green glow. Then, it's obvious. The ceiling of this cavern is covered in the fluorescent phosphorous matter that glows are made off. The mossy substance almost glitters and appears quite lovely.

Osric leads the way towards the baths, glancing at every table that they pass and even under on e or two on the way just to be absolutely sure that there isn't an old man lying gigling under one of them. The baths are disappointingly lacking in letcherous old men, but Osric carefully makes his way around towards the shelves to get a better look.

Natishen starts combing the area in the direction opposite of his fellow Candidate, pausing to exchange words with a few of those lounging in the water. However, like his companion, he's coming up empty handed.

Osric isn't so keen on talking to people, and at times has to make sure he doesn't stare too long and get himself a face full of water for his trouble. Slowly but surely he makes his way back around to Natishen's side of the room to declare, "Nothing." Disappointed he leans against the nearest piece of wall and sighs, "So how come you don't like Avani?"

"Don't like is a strong word," Natishen replies as he meets up with Osric, shaking his head. "Easier to say I find her annoying and judgemental, but can't please everyone, y'know? Reminds me of my mother, actually." The boy snorts as he starts to pick his way out of the springs cavern. "I'll be happy if I don't gotta deal with her much - I don't like anyone who acts like they know me just based on one situ- sit- happenin'. I'm respectful, an' not jus' cause Miss Moyra'd get mad. She raised me right," he adds defensively. "But she acts like a guy can't make one little joke." He halts there, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. "Guess she got to me more'n I thought. Sorry, Osric, didn' mean t' spout on ya."

Osric shrugs a little, "It's okay, she annoys me too sometimes. She's blooded, they're all a bit weird sometimes. Like we were grooming the runners and she actually admitted she didn't like me cause I'm not, like she knows anything about me other than that." He pauses a seconds then grins, "And if people were meant to go off one meeting I'd be pushing you in the pool after what you said that day in the weyrwoman's tree."

"I didn't say anything!" But Nash is grinning as he protests, and he tilts his head at Osric. "You're okay, even if you keep a diary." Another grin, and a wink to show he's just teasing. "But her rank don't mean nothing when she's a Candidate. That's what they always say, anyway." He jerks a shoulder, dismissing the woman from his thoughts and the conversation. "Maybe the infirmary next? He might be lookin' for that healer you mentioned."

"Shut up." Osric laughs, clearly not taking offence this time, "You're just jealous." Wiht another chuckle he pushes up off the wall and nods, "Infirmary next." He's only gone a step towards the door before he adds, more seriously, "It means something to her. I guess when you're used to being paraded around like a prize runner having to clean up after them is a bit weird. Not that she was too much better before she was Searched though. Got all stiff just because I asked if she wanted me to arrange a lift back after her da practically kidnapped her to try to get her married off."

"Blood's important," Natishen says slowly, "and bein' Blooded's important. But I met Bloods before, when they come to visit the Weyr, as didn't walk around with their noses in the air. Ah well. She might just be outta place. Weyr's a lot different than a Hold." He waves dismissingly. "I'll give 'er the time of day if she asks, an' I'll treat her like any other Candidate - I mean, she could be a rider someday. And if the dragons think she's a good person, then who'm I to contra- contrad- say they're wrong? But we're wasting time on her, and we gotta find Thom. To the Infirmary, then!" And he waits for the older man to lead the way - respectfully.

Osric peers at Natishen for a moment, "You holdbred as well?" he doesn't really give time for an answer though before continuing, "Bloods are… guess it depends on who you are and who they are. Some of them are okay, some of them I wouldn't pi… spit on if they were on fire. Not decided on her yet, she's alright when she's not being all stuck up." There's clearly meant to be something else added after that, but he bites it off. "Come on, infirmary." Barely waiting a second he heads for the door.

Natishen snorts. "Me? Holdbred? Not on your life! I'm born and bred to here. M' mother's a greenrider, and m' father's a… er… rider. Of some color." Coughing, he shakes his head, following after. "Eh. She may be okay. Sometimes. I just ain' met her yet when she is. But - I'm not gonna judge her yet. That'd make me as bad as her."

Xanadu Weyr - Infirmary

The infirmary here is intended for human care. It is spotless and smells of disinfectant, cots are lined up against one wall, a curtain can be pulled to give some privacy to the occupants of the cots if they so desire. A cabinet stands off against another wall, instruments and medications stored against when they will be needed. A couple of curtained off beds are used for examinations of patients and the treatment of minor injuries which won't require long term care. A desk with chair is just off of the doorway for the healer to sit and catch up on record keeping after a long days work.

Osric leads the way to the infirmary in a semi-grumpy silence, something bothering him even if he doesn't immediately voice which part of the conversation it was that got to him the most. "Just hope you don't get put on runner duty with her, she's more likely to kick or bite than they are." He smiles at the end though it parhaps doesn't quite match the jokey tone of his voice. Just inside the infirmary is a chair usually used by people waiting on patients being discharged, today it's being used by Thom as a place to sleep. The old man seems happy, head tilted back, mouth open, a gentle rhythmic snore coming from him.

Natishen studies Osric's back in silence, a frown beetling his brow. "Is something wrong? You're not mad at me for not likin' her, are you? 'Cause, hey, I said I'd give her a chance." He comes to a stop as they enter the room, letting his eyes adjust to the light before catching sight of the old man. "Heh. Yeah - that's Thom. I remember him now. Miss Moyra's always having to shoo him away from her girls and lead him back to the ladies in charge of the old folks."

Osric shakes his head, taking a deep breath, "Nah, nothing like that. Just… annoying. Not you, her." Shaking his head he finally spots Thom and there's a flicker of a smile comes back, "Crafty old bugger." For once he doesn't try to moderate his language, "You know I wouldn't mind being him when I'm that age. Hitting people with a cane, chasing after women young enough to be a grandkid, sounds like fun to be honest."

Natishen chuckles. "Well, I'll leave you to him," he says, eyeing the old man thoughtfully. "But I dunno if I ever wanna be that old. And wrinkled." He's only thirteen yet - he's still immortal, after all. "I should get back to bathing the kids - they still had three left for me when you came looking for help, and last thing I want is trouble for not finishin' my chores."

"Oh thanks." Osric's sense of humour seems to be returning, "Leave me to try to figure out how to wake him up. Go on, shoo then." He laughs, adding quickly, "Thanks Nash." He waits a moment then heads over to try to shake Thom awake, hand almost reaching his shoulder before he thinks better of it and draws up another chair instead, planting himself beside the old man and letting him sleep just a little longer - when Thom wakes up they can watch the healers together, a pair of dirty old men.

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