Mud and Math and Maybe Manipulation

Xanadu Weyr - Meadow
A large, slightly rolling meadow is set high enough above the riverbank on both sides to avoid suffering from flooding, healthy ground cover and grass spreading out from either side of the dividing river. Scattered amongst the meadow are a variety of weyrs, each with a narrow path leading up to it from a main, winding road. Some are set under a few trees, while others sit by themselves. The meadow continues with gentle rolls and dips, grass tall and short waving in the slightest of breezes, and eventually those hills grow higher and steeper, ending in a large ridge that provides a fine view of that meadow and the rest of the Weyr, gazing out over the multicolored roofs of the houses and the cliff that holds the caverns.

Runner stables with the paddock beyond are to the south beyond the meadow weyrs, and a smithy and a woodcraft shop are settled closer in towards the path to the clearing. Trees border the northern side of the meadow, and more of those low, rolling hills can be seen to the northwest. A road passes through the meadow, coming from the east and used by traders and crafters alike. Wagons laden with felled trees from the forests or ore from the mountains are hauled by burden beast up the road through the meadow, over the bridge spanning the river to be processed in the appropriate workshops.

The season is turning in Xanadu. The high heat of summer is passing off into the welcoming— well, not quite yet chill of Autumn, but certainly more temperate weather heading that way thanks to the rains that are a feature of the season. The meadow is damp from an early morning shower though now it's later in the morning, and the puffy clouds overhead are varying shades of white and only dotting the blue sky suggesting there won't be a sudden resurgence for some time. It means there's some mud in the meadow here and there where the grass isn't as thick, and anyone without boots is likely to get soggy toes from the carryover moisture. Tejra can thankfully count herself among the not soggy of toe, owing to the mud-encrusted riding boots that rise to her knee. The reinforced runner riding pants beyond that that are a fair guard against the elements, too, though not nearly so much as the oilskin settled on her shoulders, its hood back, letting the breeze toy with tendrils of fire that have escaped from the plait that contains the rest of her red hair. Trudging might be in the dancer's vocabulary of movements, and the soft state of the ground should draw her stride that way, but trained muscles make her gait smooth in spite of the challenges in the environs. Regardless of how the motion may be described, the knot-hidden woman is making her way away from the runner stables and back in the direction of the rest of the Weyr.

Maybe it is a consequence of living in Igen, that R'sner seems to have forgotten rain is a thing that happens. It would certainly account for the lack of preparedness evident in his wardrobe. While desert robes might work great for keeping sun and sand at bay, they do very little against wind and wet and mud. Thus, while Tejra has managed to guard against soggy toes, R'sner is not so fortunate. Or, well… his toes are safe from being soggy courtesy of his boots, but the hem of his robe is definitely not and, water being a substance with likes to spread, the stain has crept up until he's definitely a bit damp from the knees down. Perhaps it is this that has put a frown on his face. Or perhaps it is the great hunk of green dragon currently doing her darnedest to try and turn herself brown by utilizing those patches of mud as effectively as possible. Fortunately for R'sner, Toith has not yet succeeded in doing more than muddying her muzzle and digging a couple trenches with her claws, an activity which has been halted only because the red-headed women is spotted heading their way. Toith might be a great many things — and a mischief-maker is definitely one of them — but intentionally soiling someone else's attire is not in her nature. A sigh. A cross of his arms. But at least the Igen weyrlingmaster's "Good day," is polite enough when Tejra is within earshot.

It's possible that Tejra has been compared to a cat on more than one occasion, with accuracy and fairness. Curiosity is as much a bane for the redhead as it is for any small, furry thing of the feline persuasion. Who can say if it's the desert robes in the context of a climate that does them no credit, or the green or even R'sner, himself, with that greeting that draws the young woman's pale gaze first, but once it's caught, her steps sway in their direction, chin tilting ever so slightly in a betrayal of her intrigue. "Good day to you, Weyrlingmaster," the harper's voice is a melodic mezzo that has an edge of a purr to the timbre of her speech. "I see a wardrobe change is in order," she observes, lips curving very slightly with amusement as her eyes look not at the man and his muddied hem, but the dragon with her mottled muzzle. "Dare I ask?" It's not really a question because the muted mischief in Tej's own eyes as she observes the dragon assures even before her next words that she will: "She's not in need of a beauty regimen, lovely as she is, so perhaps… camouflage? Are you embarking on a very dangerous mission?" The humor in the micro expressions on the harper's face just slowly ramps up until the look turned on R'sner finally can be mistaken for nothing short of deep amusement.

Toith appears to be living her best life, faceted eyes whirling a happy blue-green even if R'sner is being the worst sort of kill-joy in stopping her fun. The weyrlingmaster, while offering a somewhat longsuffering sigh, cannot help the little quirk at his mouth that might suggest amusement as the young woman joins them. "Camouflage would imply there's a reason for this madness. Unfortunately, the truth is far less interesting: Toith enjoys being a mess." The messier the better, if the mud-kneading paws and not-so-subtly swishing tail are to be believed. She's not quite rolling yet, but she's definitely threatening to do so. "Though she'll happily pretend it's in service of some great, secret mission." A snort (from the dragon this time) and R'sner dares to turn his attention away from the green and toward the girl. "R'sner; Weyrlingmaster of Igen." It is a greeting meant to inspire one in return, though Res won't go so far as to demand it.

Red brows twitch up at the Weyrlingmaster's first words, her lips tightening just a little in effort not to let them spread with a wide smile. "Oh, I'm not sure I can agree with you." Now the wide smile presents as she casts a sidelong look up at the rider. "Madness is always more interesting than mundanity." Don't worry Toith: Tej's got your back. Is that a little bit of madness in that edge of something wild teasing around her pale eyes and in the slightly sharp edges of the smile? If so, it's no more than is perfectly allowable, possibly even entertaining to the right person. "I don't imagine it makes it terribly easy for you, though," and Tej can at least feign the appropriate sympathy for the man even if she surely feels none. "Although, our sea is very fine here and I've heard there are a wide variety of mysteries beneath its surface, for the enterprising dragon not afraid of whatever a mission might lead her to." This is Tejra being helpful, if the definition of helpful can be expanded to potentially taking up quite a bit of R'sner's free time exploring the Sea of Azov. Did he mean to have that next day off for some other purpose? Oops. She does offer her hand over toward the rider after a moment of bemused contemplation - maybe she won't introduce herself in turn. "Tej." There's a beat before she adds with just a hint of the reluctance that's a much greater thing behind her perpetual mask, "Harper posted to Xanadu, though I've been spending precious little time here of late. It's a delight to meet you both." Technically speaking, Tej might always be slightly more delighted to meet a dragon than its counterpart, but humans are so much more complicated, especially compared to a dragon isn't one's own.

A dry smirk answers that observation: easy is the last thing a muddy Toith might be. "It is who she is. And she's the one that will live with it," sighs R'sner. "So long as there's a clean patch to sit on the way home." Maybe that's called compromise? Or maybe Res has just learned to live with the mud-beast that is his lifemate. "Well met, Tej," comes with the clasping of that offered hand, the weyrlingmaster's firm but certainly not crushing — he is apparently not the sort of man that feels the need to break fingers to assert his dominance or something. "I will say 'thank you for the assistance' but Toith would like you to know that she, and I quote, 'knows what you're trying to do and will not be tricked'. My weyrmate tries the same thing with the same sort of… success." That is, an entire lack of it. "But there's a lake in Igen she's happy to dive-bomb, and it works nearly as well." It also comes with a distinct lack of requiring the weyrlingmaster to temporarily relocate to Xanadu. A slide of his gaze between girl and dragon, though Toith has apparently decided not to push her luck with her lifemate right there to witness her. She does nothing more than wiggle her toes a little bit. "Spending precious little time where you're posted," he remarks, a clear note of curiosity in his tone. "Is that intentional?"

Tejra's affected air of affront is flawless in execution, even if it's not convincing under the circumstances. Her lips part in silent gasp at the audacity of the suggestion that she, the most honest of all harpers, might be trying to trick the dragon. Her hand touches her chest to add to this illusion. "With respect to Toith, I am doing no such thing. Our sea is very fine, to swim in, to dive in, to explore in, and there are a variety of mysteries beneath its surface including the wreckage of unfortunate ships. Not to mention the islands of which I've grown quite fond." Now, if the harper was telling the truth with a particular slant to it and the green wants to call that tricking… well, Tej has suffered worse judgements. Having pled her case with the green via her rider, the capricious woman can readily move on. "I've seen your lake. I was in Igen earlier this seven, in fact, researching in your beautiful library. And enjoying the garden." She does not mean the botanical variety that some people insist is the only correct kind of garden. She saves the most complex matter for last, one hand rising to tug at one of the loose tresses, encouraging it to a home behind her ear. "It really would depend upon whom you ask. I seem to have a slightly different philosophy on teaching than my peers here, and as such, I'm increasingly finding myself with duties that have me riding out, or flying out. I spent much of my spring working the gathers, in fact, which was pleasant enough after my hands remembered the routine for frequent drumming. It may be that we are finding it's best for all parties when I'm kept engaged away from my posting." Perhaps he shouldn't ask her about her teaching philosophies, given her not-tricking of his lifemate. "What brings you here today, R'sner?"

An exceedingly inelegant snort is the dragon's reply, muddy nose pointed at Tejra but, thankfully, not thrust in her direction (no flinging mud. Yet). R'sner simply clears his throat and tries very hard not to look amused. He almost passes, save the bit of a twinkle in his eyes and the stubborn little twitch to his mouth. "Wrecked ships she can get behind, but she's still not getting in the water until she's good and ready for it." And even so, she is liable to come out of it covered in even more gunk. There are a great many things in the sea with which to collect and coat oneself with, even if R'sner will not let her bring any of it home. For teaching styles and travel — or more accurately, the competing philosophies of the former — R'sner simply arches an eyebrow and slants a look at the harper, though he's not bold enough to ask her to elaborate. And himself? "A professional matter that was meant to be quick and has become… tedious," he decides, happily vague on the specifics. "But, could prove fruitful in other ways," he adds after a thought, another look given the girl rather than the green. "Sometimes, it helps to have time away from work to allow all… parties," he says, intentionally repeating her word right back, "a chance to reflect and reconsider their arguments?" He has absolutely no earthly (pernly?) clue as to what sort of situation she's found herself in, but he'll happily try to use it for his own agenda. Which, a moment later, is revealed when he says, "We've a clutch at Igen that needs candidates. Toith seems to think you'd be good for it. Would you consider Standing there?"

"I would never rush a dragon," Tejra's high claim can be called concession to the green's whims and wishes, and can only be accounted for in the fact that Toith is not her dragon, and thus the harper really lacks a runner in this race. The way her chin shifts just a little away from dragon to rider to nail him with a slight narrowing of her eyes is an indication that she sees you and your amusement there, R'sner… but that only prompts Tej's lips to twitch in sympathetic mirth in the next moment. She makes a small noise of commiseration for the vague idea of duties turned dull and drawn out, but any inquiry is curtailed by his next words. Doubtless, the harper would have had some sort of ready quip, a segue into some avenue of conversation less potentially likely to show Tejra in a poor light to a total stranger (for surely, given the description, she is not without culpability of some sort), but whatever it might have been is swept from her mind by the question posed. A blush tinges pale cheeks a distinct pink as pale eyes dart from man to dragon and back. She seems clever enough, she must have understood the question. The silence extends, though not for long, the young woman gathering her suddenly scattered thoughts into some order that will serve her in stringing words together after quick calculations are made. What will it do to her promotion track? Would taking an escape of some months be seen as a retreat or a reprieve from an unpleasant situation? Would— … In the end, all those rational considerations fall away as she looks back to Toith. Spoiler alert: Toith is not the only dragon Tej has a predisposition to enjoy (that would be all of them - even the ornery ones, sometimes). "Yes," she finally says, voice as clear as any harper. "If I can get leave from my superiors, I will accept." There's a beat and pale eyes go to the man, "Thank you," the flick of her eyes back to the dragon extends that gratitude to both. "There are things I'll need to see to before I can report. May I have your leave for a few days to set matters in order?"

R'sner is patient, a trait that is likely required of him, given his line of work. And while Toith can definitely be one of 'the ornery ones' when she feels like it, the green is also content to settle back (in the mud, of course) and let Tejra make her calculations and come to a conclusion in her own time. Both rider and dragon wait with varying degrees of content, for the answer to be given. When it is, there's a rumbly-like sound from the green, and a hint of a grin from the weyrlingmaster, in acknowledgement of that response. "Of course," comes without a hint of complaint. "Take a few days to settle things, say good-bye, wrap up… anything that needs to be wrapped up." He doesn't know; he's never been a Harper. Or a crafter at all. But he's collected a fair few candidates in his days and is happy enough to give a few days leave. "The clutch is still new, it will be some time before they are near to Hatching." Which is to say: there is no rush. "When you are ready, you are welcome to call a dragon from Igen to come collect you or, if you've a friend in Xanadu willing to drop you off, that is fine as well. Just ask for either myself, my assistant N'sir, or the Headwoman of Igen, and we will be sure to get you settled into the barracks." A tip of his head and he considers her for a moment before asking, "Do you have any questions for me?"

Tejra's mind may already be working away at lists of things she'll need to do before she can slide free of the all the strings binding her to this place that won't simply follow her to the next, but a nod of her head shows her understanding of his permission to deal with those mental lists. "Thank you. I will make sure to do that. The name on all my records is Tejra, if it needs to go on a list somewhere. Tej is just what I prefer." This tidbit is probably only offered because the harper has seen more than anyone's fair share of paperwork in her turns at the hall. It turns out that she does have at least one question for the greenrider, "Does Igen permit their candidates to continue to work primarily with their craft?" She probably knows that Xanadu has this practice, but she's never been a candidate for Xanadu either, so it's an important question; she'll need to know who else to report to, if that's the case, which is information she can surely obtain through her chain of Harper command. Then, more quietly in a tone that is no less melodic but betrays, in a rare moment, some real concern, "It… isn't as easy as one would wish, is it? Gaining a lifemate and all that comes with it?" The stories might paint it one way but… maybe she just needs a confirmation of the feeling she's obtained from her acquaintance with the particularly rambunctious group of now senior weyrlings.

There is definitely at least one list. Probably two. And it is definitely appreciated that her full name is given, if just to ensure said lists are accurate. "I'll make note of it," assures R'sner, though he seems not to need to literally take note of it. At least not on paper. Toith, her job apparently done, turns back to covertly attempting to dig a wallow in the mud, pretending to ignore the fact that her rider is within full view of this. But R'sner has other matters with which to contend, and is perfectly content to do so. "They do," he assures, for the subject of crafts. "Although it will not be full time. Mm. Maybe seventy-thirty?" Percent of time in the craft versus other chores. "There are things the candidates will be expected to learn, whether through chores or lessons, that are often not covered within the crafts. But I also see no need to keep crafters from their profession while they are candidates. If you Impress however, your craft obligations will be suspended until your dragon is grown and you've graduated." Best to put it out there in advance, should it be a deal breaker. That the subject ties rather nicely to the second question posed is certainly serendipitous, but R'sner gives it the weight and consideration it deserves before he answers. "Easy to Impress?" he questions, though he does not wait for clarification before answering. "It is, and it isn't. It is as easy as being in the right place, at the right time. But, on that same token, there is nothing one can do to increase or decrease the odds of it. You either are, or are not, the one a dragon is looking for, and there is no way to know until the day arrives." R'sner, it seems, is not the type to sugar-coat. "The life itself… no. It is not easy. But nothing worth having is ever easy, is it?" A rhetorical question, to be sure. "It has its own unique challenges, of which we will try to cover during candidacy." A second of pause; of consideration before he continues. "Being a dragonrider is not for everyone, and I am of the mind that potential riders be well prepared for what might await them if they Impress. That being said, I have never met a dragonrider who has regretted the decision." How could they, when it would mean regretting the dragon?

A tiny crease appears between down-dipping red brows, but Tej doesn't otherwise balk at either the split of the time between crafter duties and candidacy or the suspension of her craft should she find a lifemate on Igen's sands. Her brief nod is enough to confirm receipt of these numbers for all her mental arithmetic. It's no longer a question of 'if' she'll stand, Harper higher-ups permitting, but simply what ancipatable impact that might have on her long-range plans; to make it to Journeyman, she must have some intentions for her life going forward, after all. Candidacy, before this conversation, doesn't seem to have been among those aims given the gravity with which a normally mercurial and light-hearted woman is turning solemn in her study of the answers and the man giving them. She may have meant one part over the other with her question, but she doesn't bother to clarify now. For all the information that has been offered to her, what she finally returns to the greenrider with an arch of a brow is, "And if I have additional questions, I can come to you?" Congratulations, R'sner, you may have just been offered a job as Tej's personal guru for all things dragon, at least until the eggs hatch. 1/10 of Tejra's previous teachers would recommend a teaching post with her as the pupil, but no one here needs to know that (other than Tej).

R'sner has long ago accepted his fate and somehow survived it. So, there is no hesitation in that "Of course," which comes in answer to her final question. Whether he knows what he has taken on or not, the weyrlingmaster is willing to assume the role. Teacher; both for those that wish to be taught, and a fair few who do not. "I, or N'sir, will be happy to answer any questions you might have." Because he might as well throw his weyrmate-slash-assistant-weyrlingmaster under the proverbial bus too, while he's at it. "But if there are no more questions for now, I'll beg your pardon and take my leave. Contrary to Toith's opinion on the matter, we actually do have things to do that require a clean dragon to do them." And at the moment, acquiring said 'clean dragon' is looking to have become quite a chore.

All Tejra has for the pair now is not more questions but an amused smile that puts a little wrinkle in her nose, before she wishes to both, "Best of luck," and may the best man or dragon win, before she's letting her feet move into a graceful stride taking her away from the muddy wallow in the meadow and on about her own business.

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