Kicking The Bucket

Xanadu Weyr - Main 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 with upturned petals to wave to whoever may be looking.

The cliff looms imposingly on two sides. Toward the southwest, a spire stretches up to high above where the everpresent watchdragon sits on a lonely peak with Xanadu's Starstones. A massive rocky spur extends to the north, curved slightly to hold the clearing and pocked with doors and windows.

The hatching arena and Dragonhealers' Annex sit to the southeast, built together into a single complex that takes up a large portion of the perimeter beneath its domed roof. To the southwest, wide steps lead up to the caverns, and almost directly south is the entrance to the Infirmary. Nestled between the infirmary and the main caverns there's a human-sized archway with frequent traffic - it leads to the Wanderin' Wherry Tavern.

Tucked near the arch, just off to one side is a tiny wood-frame shop bearing the name 'Wildflower Boutique'. Windows have been cut along the cliff in various places along the cliff. Those of the administrative offices are placed to have the best view of Xanadu's airspace - to the southwest, over the entrance to the caverns and the infirmary. Others mark the dormitories and those of lucky residents, while toward the northern edge of that spur cluster the windows and entrances to the crafters' complex.

The rest of the Weyr lies to the north and east - a broad road that leads through the meadow and the trees of the forest beyond. At the far northern edge of the clearing, just inside the perimeter kept clear of trees, a clocktower sits and proudly displays the hour.

Valerian had tried several days now, in a row, to be a good candidate. Unfortunately, being awake during the day just wasn’t something that he was used to. He’d been an apprentice since he was twelve turns old, and at sixteen his circadian rhythm was set to the hours that was expected of him. Asleep by a bit after dawn, awake around dusk. He’d been assigned to cleaning duty, trying to get used to the sunlight by taking that party outside, his intention had been to beat some rugs and while they aired out, scrub out some very large crockery from the kitchen just outside the weyr itself. What he had done, was claim himself a nap with his face all mushed into the side of one big jug looking thing, used to pickle only Faranth knows what. Arms loose as they hand with knuckles brushed against browning grass, butt perched on a small stool. There is no telling how long he’d made it before things became like this, several other large vats collected behind him. Their cleanliness was debatable and the bucket and its special cleaning solution once warm, was ice cold.

Sometimes, there are benefits to having important grandmothers - Sometimes. Arguably, today could be one of them, though that is up for debate, as there still seems to be work involved. Ricki is slipping outside, arms piled high with various bolts of fabric, the material extending a fair distance to either side of her, and piled to just at her chin, which is an awkward but manageable height. However, the size and shape does rather impede both her vision and her maneuverability, and as she is cutting across the open space, it is *just* enough to see the large vats, but not enough to see her sleeping fellow candidate. Or the bucket of cleaning solution she nearly trips over - the fabric and her fall are saved (barely) but the now cold bucket of cleaning solution - not so much. Splash. “SHARDS.” The word escapes her, loudly, as she shifts onto her other foot, hopping a little and rebalancing the goods in her arms.

The sleeping soundly Valerian? Awake with a start , “456 dash B…” he snorts he flings himself back and then starts to continue that way with arms flailing in the air uselessly until he meet the cold hard ground in only the most cruel of fashions, “Whoa…whoaaa.. WHOOOOOOA….” THUMP! A groan, “Ow…” Such a rude awakening, and the groggy starcrafter finds another reason to be woozy as he starts to sit up and hisses, touching fingers to the back of his head. Grey eyes lift and he finds the girl carrying bolts of fabric much larger and in quantities that told him she was trying to make quick work of the task rather than proceed safely, his gaze dropping down to the bucket she’d knocked over and slowly the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place. Didn’t mean his head hurt any less, but he is reminded that he had been up to something before falling over. “Faranth!” he sighs, only the slights of growls in there, entirely directed for the narcoleptic episode and lack of chore completion. AGAIN. He’s not even thinking as he climbs to his feet unsteadily and helps Ricki balance her load, looking from bucket to all the work left unfinished and honestly the teenager looks as if he wanted to cry. He had accomplished NOTHING today, just like yesterday, just like the day before and the day before that. Already he could feel himself growing sleepy, despite the throbbing at the back of his head.

Was that… a voice? Swiveling this way and that, she manages to just catch sight of a bit of flailing, though her own balance is still quite questionable. A turn this way, a craned neck that way, and then she is being stabilized and she finally speaks up. “I think I’ve got it, if you want to point me somewhere I can set it down, and I’ll help clean up.. Whatever it was I hit.” At least Ricki is going to take some responsibility for the mess that she helped create. Taking a few steps backwards, she finally spots a small workbench, and with an unceremonious *thump* the fabric is deposited, and she is turning back, eyes widening as she gets a good look at Vale. “Are you alright?” Please don’t cry. Ricki doesn’t even know what to do when she cries herself.

Not going to cry, just looking like he was seriously considering it very soon, and Valerian steps back when Ricki says she’s got it. His hands come up, palms exposed in a symbol of peace as he simply takes a few measured steps backwards to give the other candidate all the room that she needs in order to deposit her burden elsewhere. “Uh…” he offers helpfully, looking around for someplace in particular, but she was already moving off to someplace before he could supply one for her. Well, that’s that then. Then he’s blinking and waving a hand at her as he rights the bucket and sets it off beside the vats that hadn’t even been touched yet. “It was water and cleaning solution, and that there is the bare ground…” Valerian points at it, because he was still oh so helpful. See there, that’s the yucky poison that Ricki spilled that killed the grass that some poor schmuck cultivated. Soon to be the spill shaped dead patch that no one would notice until spring, thankfully. “Not much to clean up…I’m not going to scrub that and you shouldn’t either…” Another blink and he flashes the girl a crooked grin before he waves her off too even as he yawns and stops himself before he rubs at his eye as much as he wanted to. It had that stuff on it and it was not the sort you wanted anywhere near something as sensitive and reactive as an eyeball. The hand is looked at, eyed suspicious like and then similarly dropped to his side. Better safe than sorry, “Eh, tired and overwhelmed…you?” What a weird introduction, but he was extending his hand towards her anyway, and then drops it again. “Yeah, you don’t want that.” In a ‘nevermind’ tone. So, now it was awkward, and what better way to make it more awkward then to morph the majority of your face into a wolfish grin that was 98% teeth and chuckle at the poor girl.

Gaze goes from the upturned bucket, to the vats, to the ground, and then finally it returns to Vale, and Ricki sighs softly, shaking her head. “Shards, what did you do…” She murmurs, even as her eyes slip back to the remaining worth and she shakes her head, only then finally giving Vale another long look, this time catching his yawn and tilting her head. “Not that, sure, but what about the rest of it?” As he extends a hand then drops it, she blinks at him a few times, just shaking her head at that chuckle, before turning to close the distance and peer in the vats. “I’m Ricki..” She comments after a moment, glancing back over her shoulder at him. “I didn’t catch your name, but.. Why are you so *tired*?” She does look slightly judgmental at that, as she tilts her head, one hand going to her hip as she waits for an answer.

“I fell asleep,” Valerian points out, and indeed that is a finger directed at himself and then he turns it outwards towards Ricki, “You knocked over a full bucket of instant grass killer…” It wasn’t going to kill the grass by design, but that was pretty much what was going to happen. He was already stifling another yawn, but with the back of his hand as he begins to mill about with this and that, really just trying to look busy but was too bushed for it to appear as anything other than him randomly walking back and forth and touching things without purpose. “Eh, well…I’ll have to get more…” He gestures towards the bucket and half dozes off right where he’s standing, but startles awake again as he starts to tip off. Time for the good ol’ wake up face slap, doing so a few times and shaking his head a bit to loosen the cobwebs. Instantly, there is regret, because he’s suddenly rubbing at the back of his head where he’d smacked it after his last fall. “Valerian…” See, totally paying attention, grey eyes darting over to catch all that judgement but he just widely grins in response, “Starcraft…” Well, that would explain it, and guess what he’s also pointing to his apprentice knot there, all snuggled up nice and close to his candidate one. “Not really used to being up during the day…kinda needed to be awake at night…” Okay, yeah, thanks Captain Obvious.

“Yeah, but.. Did you irritate someone enough that they buried you in all these things to wash?” Of course, it is possible that it is a perfectly average amount of things to be washed, if one keeps up with it rather than falling asleep. As he mentions Starcraft, she ahhs softly, nodding. “I see… I guess that is an excuse.” The older candidate glances back at the vats before moving to give Vale a pat on the back. “You gonna fall asleep on me again?” She asks, tilting her head to watch his face. A glance at the fabric she aside and she is turning back to Vale. “If you promise to help and not fall asleep, I’ll help you get these done, and no one has to know.” No mention of what it will cost him is made - perhaps she is doing it because she is a nice person, perhaps she will collect later. “But you have to go get another bucket of stuff.” Sure, she knocked it over, but technically this is his job. “Maybe you should get some klah, too.”

There’s a soft laugh from Valerian for that, because there were so many answers to that. None of them he could confirm for certain, but he had his suspicions. Unfounded, but totally valid. Yes. “Not that I know of,” he replies instead, erring on the side of caution. “I had help, but I guess when I fell asleep they took off.” A shrug, because what can you do right? No blame or accusation, most especially no names, but that there was a lot of work for one person now wasn’t it? Either he was telling the truth here, or he was an overachiever. Overfailure? He had failed to accomplish much after all. Overzealous? A show off? Who knows what the case may be, startling at the pat to his back and grey eyes widening as Ricki had seemingly magically teleported herself. Confused, he looks between where she was and where she had been, and then puts one and one together with a suffering groan. “Probably…” Hey, he’s going to be honest. Likely the only guy on the planet who could drift off WHILE walking. At her offer of help, a looks at her pointedly and arches a brow. He might be half-dead from sleep deprivation, but he could read between the lines. “Ever been up to the peak of the starstones?” Valerian doesn’t wait for the reply, “You help me get this done, and I’ll teach you how to climb. How’s that?” All those teeth. So many. That grin spoke of danger and everything that suggested that Ricki would live a little while longer if she just said no. Don’t do it Ricki, don’t be swayed by the handsome and those pretty pretty eyes. The bucket? Already in hand and he was on his way back towards the weyr. “Uh, no.” No, klah. Bad ju-ju. He isn’t gone long, returning at a brisk pace probably to keep himself awake without spilling the heated water infused with cleaning solution. “What did you need help with?” Vale asks a little breathlessly with flushed cheeks. He might have run there and then slapped himself a couple of times. No biggy, perfectly normal.

“If you say so..” Ricki murmurs about not having pissed anyone off, though her attention is hurriedly torn from that matter when he mentions climbing to the starstones. “Like, seriously?” She stares at him, mouth agape, shaking her head a little. “That’s what dragons are for - to take you to high places so you don’t have to climb.” Of course, if he was paying close enough attention - and not half asleep - Vale may have noticed an involuntary shiver at the thought, even as she glances up in the general direction of the starstones. “We’ll see..” Take that like a parents’ we’ll see in that it is far closer to a ‘oh hell no’. As he runs off to fill the bucket, she meanders back to the various vats, peering at them and checking the state, starting to tug them into some sort of order, which she is still working on when he returns, perhaps a bit more damp than he was upon his departure. “What did I need help with?” She asks, staring at him with an arched eyebrow. “I think you are the one that needs all help you can get.” And even then she is motioning him over. “Do you want to start with the worst, or the.. Not worst.”

“Oh? You got a dragon for that?” Valerian asks cunningly, eyes narrowing as he glances over from whatever he was doing at the time at the white candidate knot secured to her shoulder there. “Hmmm…” He thinks NOT fairest of maidens present and all the suspiciousness of eyeballing before he chuckles and gets back to task. Oh, he saw the shiver, but his motto was ‘Life's too short not to live it!’ and if he had his way he would drag that poor girl to the top of the starstones…or at the very least to the top of the rock-wall in the garden. Small steps Vale, small moves. He wasn’t so out of it that he wouldn’t notice the reaction to his offer, only chuckling harder (admittedly with a bit of a yawn there in between, complete with a long vocal expression of his fatigue on exhale). A dangerous sort of glint to the fierceness of the grin he shoots her way with her parental version of ‘maybe’. But then he’s off, returning with his bucket and flushed cheeks, brows launching upwards for the look he gets for his fairly straight forward question, “I mean, did you just need to carry those bolts from one place to another or…was there something more technical involved?” He needed schematics Ricki, some sort of chart! His gaze wanders over the vats arranged from most disgusting to least disgusting but still disgusting and tries not to look like he’s about throw himself off the starstones. Setting the bucket down, he offers Ricki one of the rags he’s brought as well. A whole slew of them actually, because from the look of things, they were going to need them, “Maybe think of it like a wound? Least worst to worst?” Nice analogy there starcrafter.

“Well, I mean.. -I- don’t but my dad does. And Oceleth is pretty chill.” Ricki seems perhaps a bit flushed at his counter argument, shrugging his shoulders. “And my sister’s Faeth will come get me, if we are suppose to do something together, but well, that’s not as often anymore.” Busy on both sides of that sister-bond, and all. As he clarifies his question, her eyes wander back to the bolts and she shrugs. “Grandmother just wanted me to take them to the tailors, that they know the rest. I just didn’t want to face her more than once.” Thus, the unsafe pile of them in her arms all in one go. As Vale plans a course of attack, she joins him, waving the rag around for a moment before nodding, and settling down to start the process, pulling the jars within reach as needed. At least with two of them, it is a rather painless process. Quiet for a few minutes as she works, Ricki finally speaks up again, without looking up from her work. “Have you talked to anyone, about your chore schedule?” I mean, probably a long shot but.

Valerian tosses another of those seriously disconcerting nothing but teeth grins of his, “Hmm, hmm.” It might not seem as if he was really listening, but as he does get down to work on the pots he’d chosen out of the conglomeration, “The people who raised me were farmers outside of Telgar,” he offhandedly offers in a sleepy and distracted sort of tone, scubba-dub-dubbing away as he pauses now and then to rapidly shake his head and keep himself from passing out. It was a losing battle and he knows it, but the longer that he could keep his eyes open the more progress that was made, “I figured out pretty quick that they aren’t the ones that brought me into the world, but that didn’t really matter. They’re my parents.” A sigh, he sets off to the next pot once the first was good enough as far as he was concerned, “I eventually found my birth father, Ila’den, he’s a bronzerider from Half Moon Bay… and I’ve got more half-siblings than I can safely or accurately count…but never a word about my birth mother.” Presumably, this meant he was the product of a one night stand or a flight, seeing as the identity of the woman who birthed him remains a mystery. All that oversharing, he’ll probably kick himself over it later, once he had full usage of his brain again. Right now it was groggy and the information? It was a-flowing unrestrained. “Wha?” A laugh, rubbing his face with the crook of his elbow, “What am I supposed to say? Please make a special accommodation for me and only me?” Another round of bouncing shoulders and amusement before grey eyes are rolled skyward and then land back onto the final pot that needed attention, “My sister’s dragon might have laid the eggs, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean anything to anyone…” Not in the grand scheme of things anyway, and it really shouldn’t. Not that he wasn’t proud of Risali, he was, endlessly. But, neither pride nor blood-ties was going to to sway or bend the rules in his favor.

Vale’s rambling explanation draws a few half-nods from Ricki and a soft affirmative where necessary, but she does nothing to interrupt him or otherwise stem the flow of information from the teenager. As the pile of things to wash dwindles and he mentions Risali, that, however, actually causes her to freeze, lifting her chin to stare at him across the bucket of cleaning solution. “I.. It.. It definitely didn’t occur to me that you were related. I mean, she had all the little ones at the gather, and well, Ila’den but.” A damp hand is waved around, a few spatters of water flying away. “I bet if you -were- to ask her.. I mean. She seems reasonable.” Ok, insane, but in a reasonable way. “I don’t see why like, there aren’t things you can do at night. I’m sure they have *something*.” A shrug and she is turning her attention back, finishing the last item with a wave, splashing the rag from her hand into the bucket. “Besides, pretty sure whoever Impresses will be tired all the the time, every day, for well, forever.” Maybe not -forever- but definitely not an insignificant amount of time.

With two taken to the task originally initiated by one, Valerian is still surprised by just how quickly things are finished, setting his own last vat aside and standing back to admire how much they totally don’t gleam. They were mat on the outside and glazed on the inside. Ah, well. It was the thought that counted. His own rag is tossed at the bucket, but, he misses. A sigh, borne out of fatigue, and he approaches in order to bend and put it in there properly. “Hmm?” he inquires, brows lifting. “Yeah? Well…” Oh, hello too many teeth. “There are…quite a few of us older ones I’m told but I haven’t met them all, plus…I’m only half-related.” Overtaken by yet another yawn, the starcrafter stands and stretches out his body some towards the sky. A sky, that was in his opinion, far too bright. “I was fourteen when Risali and I first met, and I didn’t meet Ila’den till much later. He acknowledges me as ‘his’ as he puts it…and there have been some interaction but as much as I’d like to be as close to him as I am to my sister…” Barriers and such, most of them around the fact that he hadn’t been raised by the man and he had been more or less been presented to him nearly fully grown already. It does something to the ability to bond properly. At least, that was Vale’s assumption. He did that a lot actually, assuming things. Without much else to go on and afraid to ask as he was of the reaction, he seems to have made his peace with it. At mention of asking Risali to make an exception, he stiffens. Everything about his body language said PASS and that says something. “Last time I saw her she threw a candidate knot at my head and chastised me for being late to the delivery of her son.” Eyes were suddenly wide, eyes that perfectly matched in shape and color to the goldrider and her bronzeriding father. The resemblance, now that the fact was known of the genetic connection, might just be uncanny if you were looking for it. Easily dismissed in passing, but hard to miss upon examination. “Like I wanted to watch her…y’know…” He gestures a wide belly and then swoops his flattened palms outwards from his body around hip level. As for the exhaustion that comes with a new lifemate? “Eh…that’s different though…” He was soundy sleepy again, but not so much that he doesn’t remember the bolts of fabric. “Thank you for the help, but I think we better get those to where they need to go before you lose me…” With the main task done and energy he didn’t even have expend, he was starting to officially lose the good fight, eyelids steadily increasing in their weight as the tension brought on by guilt is now alleviated.

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