The Other Shoe

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's no secret that with eggs on the sands ready to hatch any day that Xanadu's population is eagerly looking forward to the new dragonets arrivals as a sign of things looking up. Indeed it's been a strange, gloomy winter with unusually unpredictable weather, thaws interspersed by ice storms and with the previous Weyrwoman recovering from her heart attack, the Headwoman leaving soon after, the mood has been somewhat heavy up until now. But this evening the Caverns seems to be a place of merriment, late evening with most children a-bed find wine skins passed around, plates of snack to go with and folks just visiting or playing cards. It seems someone has authorized an impromptu party along with the news that those eggs are ready to crack.

The merriment in the caverns has apparently caught one computer journeyman by surprise, the young man sitting back in a chair near the food tables, and watching the crowd, faint frown creating lines on sharp features. Eledri has been spending more and more time away from Landing, the crafter called here and there on some errand or other, though he's currently not occupied with anything except the dinner in front of him, a plate of mostly greens and bits of chopped wherry. There's a glass of wine in his hand, and he watches a came of cards two tables over, sipping idly, though apparently, the player's hand he's able to see has given him something to look less than pleased about.

Merriment, it seems, draws Tali from the seclusion of her little end of the beach — after a long day and a long soak back at home, the bluerider appears. She leaves her well-worn-in riding jacket on a peg and strolls into the caverns, smiling a little. Her hair is still-damp and she carries about her some sort of spicy soapsand-y smell as she quickly fills a small plate with several snacks. A skin of wine is accepted from a raucous wingmate, but she declines the offer of a seat, instead wandering with curiosity about the tables. Eventually, she plops herself down a seat or two from Eledri and flashes the crafter a bright grin. "Hey!" Chipper, before she's applying herself to her snack and her sloshy, lovely skin of wine. At least she's not chattering yet?

Though the hour is late and her queen broody (the Weyrsecond broody right along with Seryth some might say –her fault totally since she's been on the sands most of the time this clutch), Thea has taken a few minutes to linger and mingle with the crowd tonight. Perhaps she's gotten someone to sit the twins or maybe that skin over her shoulder is headed for the weyrbarn with her to soothe a grouchy weyrmate. For now though, she wends her way speaking to people here and there, laughing at some comment and adding a tease or a quip now and then. Her steps bring her to the table where Eledri and Ontali sit and she pauses. It's got to be the grouchy-face that draws her (what IS it with the Weyrwoman?!!) like a moth to the flame. "Hi guys." Her greeting is casual and unThea-like. But nope, not drunk.

Broody weyrseconds, the weyr is clearly doomed. Ahem. The computercrafter, hasn't yer seemed to noticed the weyrwoman wandering the crowd, though Eledri gives a slight sniff, perhaps catching a whiff of some passing spicy soapsand-y scent, or perhaps from a slightly stuffy nose, given the weather this winter. Whichever the case, he reaches for a napkin to dab at said nose, brown eyes flicking down a couple seats toward Tali, the frown easing somewhat as he offers a polite, and vaguely cautious, "Hey," in return. It looks as if this particular rider doesn't wish to clonk him over the noggin, or otherwise do bodily harm, so the computercrafter relaxes somewhat after an initial tensing of shoulders, faint recognition in his face as he briefly raises the glass to her, a thin smile offered along with a wry, "I think he's cheating." It's not loud enough to carry over to the card-players, but there's slight nod in their direction. And then there's a Thea-greeting, and Eledri makes to sit up straighter, inclining his head with a very proper and formal, "Ma'am," eyes perhaps flicking to the woman, to check for signs of drunkeness. Or cupcakes. He probably heard about those.

Munch munch munch goes Tali on something that looks vaguely like a beignet, unstopping the wine skin and taking a drink with a vaguely tilted head. Apparently it's deemed suitable for teetotaler Tali, as she smiles a little and takes another bite of her crunchy-looking pastry. When Thea approaches, the bluerider blinkes up at her and flashes a bright smile. "Hey, Thea." The young woman greets warmly. "Happy it's almost time to be off the sands?" She grins almost wolfishly, then pats a chair in what's probably an invitation to sit. Eyes sliiide towards those card-playing folks two tables over, then back to Eled, and the rider /snorts/ oh-so-quietly. It's definitely not a ladylike sound, but she at least tries not to get their attention, giggling. "Half-mark says one of the others catches 'im." Innocently, she rejoinders — and no, she doesn't look like she has intentions on clonking the poor crafter. She's just nice like that?

Who hasn't heard of them? Damn cupcakes! Thea's still trying to forget them - or at least the fact that people (gasp) SAW her drunk once. Truth be told, most days she really could use a drink or ten, but she's covering it rather well tonight. She's quite sober, though some might wonder, for she seems a bit giddy. She ignores formality and slides down into that patted spot on the bench beside Ontali with a half-laughed, "Thea, Eledri," as if he doesn't know her name already. and a breezy, "Hey Tali. Yeah, can't wait." She's caught that comment about the card-player and she cranes her neck to peek briefly at them before returning her attention to the pair. "Need refills?" So that wineskin she's got has a purpose - she's trying to get the Weyr drunk, it seems. My how things change!

Those cupcakes will live on in infamy, forever. Buahaha. "I'll take that bet," Eledri murmurs idly, his own gaze flicking back to the card-players as he observes somewhat wryly about the supposed cheater, "He's very good at it. I wouldn't have noticed.. except he was holding five queens in his hand just now." The currently visible hand has all four of them, the player hunched over and eyeing his opponent steadily. It seems to be a tense game, with a little bit of a crowd gathering as apparently some wager or other is being debated. When Thea takes a seat, there's a faint flicker of apprehension in Eledri's expression, though he does appear to relax soem when she offers the wine. "..Uh, sure," he sets down his already half-emoty glass, thin smile re-appearing as he repeats, "Thea." It's as if he's waiting for the other shoe to drop, wary flitting just below the surface, though he only asks, "How are the eggs doing? Any.. guesses as to when they'll break shell?" Polite. Very polite.

Ontali snickers at Thea's correction of Eledri, shaking her head ruefully. If you'd told her when she first got to Xanadu that she'd be /used/ to that sort of thing she would have called you insane, but here she sits! "Should join me on sweeps whenever they go. It's fun! Away from the office, at least." The young bluerider winks and chuckles, then shakes her head. "Got a half-skin from Pol; she and N'sken are playing a drinking game with some other booze. Thought it was probably safer this'a'ways." She laughs, then continues eyeing those players with a lifted eyebrow. "Shells," Tali murmurs with a little smirk. "I wouldn't have noticed that." Rolling her eyes, she squints at the cheater curiously. "Don't know about you, but I'm hitting the deck when chairs start flyin'. I /don't/ wanna end up in the infirmary, thanks." Snicker snicker snicker.

Up go Thea's dark brows at the mention of five queens, her eyes flicker towards that table and she breathes a mild, "Five, hmm?" She's staying out of it, content to wait and see what happens for the time being. Her attention is back to unstoppering that wineskin and pouring for the computer craftsman and a silent offer to Ontali for the same before she notes the girl has a skin of her own. Oh, that other shoe drops, Eledri. Does it ever! Right after she answers his question, "They're hard. The dragonhealers seem to think any hour now." There's a beat then an innocent question, "Do you still have Hal around? Like… on a shelf somewhere?" Gathering dust… waiting for a tech-inept Weyrwoman to tap the wrong sequence in once again?? Ontali's comment about sweeps confuses Thea momentarily and so she tilts her head a bit, her pale green gaze divided between the two of them as she clarifies, "Eledri should join you on sweeps?" Her own glass is sipped from while raucous laughter sprinkles the room from the other side of the cavern.

Eledri makes a slight face at the mention of drinking games, though brown eyes do flicker around briefly, as if attempting to locate it. There's a headtilt to Tali, Eled saying wryly, "I wouldn't either, really. I only started watching them when I noticed one too many cards." As for flying chairs, the computercrafter has to suppress a grimace, "I.. hope it doesn't come to that. They don't look drunk enough to start a brawl," though he doesn't sound too certain of that, giving the little crowd over there and those players a bit of a warier eyeing. He nods to the weyrwoman, "Five," and lifts his glass again once it's filled with a quiet, "..Thankyou." There's more polite nodding at the answer about the eggs, apparently thoughtful, though he has to blink a bit, "..Hal?" said in confusion. "Uh," there's some thinking, taking a moment or two to recall the name of the computer, before he replies, "..I believe it was put to use in Landing, although.. another could always be commissioned." Dubious, that is the look on his face when he glances at Thea, a somewhat blank look given at the talk of sweep, "Um.." gaze flicking distractedly to the other side of the cavern, at that laughter.

Ontali cheerfully continues to devour her snack, using her hands to eat a piece of cake since she forgot silverware. She doesn't even seem to think anything of this, happily munching away at the chocolate confection. Late evening munchies, what? "Great," The young bluerider grins Thea-wards. "I can't wait to see how it goes." Hal, though, and his shelf-dust-gathering get a wary look from Tali; until she decides that nope, she probably doesn't wanna know. After all, anybody who's sitting on a shelf is probably not anybody good. She's a little busy blinking curiously at the Weyrwoman's question, then squinting — and eventually realizing where it came from. "Oh! No, silly, you. When the eggs hatch, you and Seryth should come. We've got pretty areas, this sevenday." The young woman grins, then smirks Eled-wards. "Though you're welcome along, if you wanna. Long as you don't puke when Cid goes upside-down midair." Inncently, she offers. The Journeyman's lack of sureity as to the card-players' sobriety does nothing to make the girl more convinced of her safety, but she stands her, er, seat, for the moment at least. "Wherrybrains. Cheatin' always gets you caught." Solemnly, she offers, with the air of the learned. "And I shardin' well hope it doesn't. Maybe. Not yet, at least."

Placing her elbows on the table, her glass cradled 'tween laced fingers, Thea eyes the card-playing group idly. "They better not be drunk, I didn't authorize enough from stores to get them there." Though they could have added private stocks to her generosity, so flying chairs may well be in the works later. Back to Eledri, the Weyrwoman nods ruefully, blissfully unaware that he's had to search the dregs of his memory about that wretched computer. "With D'son Weyrleader again, he likes his reports…" She pauses to search for the right word, "…uploaded?…uplinked?… Ah…sent electronically to his computer. It doesn't have to be Hal." In an aside to Ontali, she explains, "My old computer." She rolls her eyes, clearly considering old fashioned handwriting to be sufficient. Though for Eledri's 'um' regarding sweeps she's puzzled. What? He spends time in the offices too, doesn't he? As for her and Seryth joining the sweeps wing, she nearly spits her mouthful of wine, coughs it down instead. Weakly, "Oh, yes. Would love to . Can you convince D'had to let me? /He/ says Weyrwomen can't." Pout. Seems someone has as yet no concept of her power.

Lips twitch upward in faint amusement at the misunderstanding, Eledri canting his head a little toward Ontali with a wry, "It's alright. I.. get airsick." Well, it's true! Poor man, travelling around with weyrfolk and still queasy about the sky, after so many turns. "I kind of hope he wins," the computercrafter comments, tone light, "And then they find out later," a pause, "..After I'm done eating." He probably wouldn't mind /watching/ a brawl, after all. Though the players are still playing obliviously on. A brow arches at Thea's comment about the stores, and another quick glance is sent toward the game before Eled turns back, nodding to the weyrwoman, "Uploaded. I'll speak with the masters in Landing. I'm sure they can send another computer within a sevenday or two," though he makes no indication of his own thoughts on written documents, merely sipping his wine and attempting not to snicker at Thea's reaction to the idea of her doing sweeps.

Thea's not going to bust the cheater it seems. Let them blow off some steam tonight. She'll know who to find later if there winds up being broken furniture all over the Caverns. She raises her glass in a wry sort of salute to the card-players, though she murmurs to Eledri, "Hope you're prepared to eat take-out just in case." As for him getting her a replacement computer, she nods her thanks, albeit a reluctant sort of gratitude to him and urges, "Take your time." No really, please do. Thea shoots Ontali a sideways look and a half-shrug along with a helpless, "He says queens belong here. Laying eggs an apparently little else." Her displeasure with that thought is drained along with the last bit from her glass after which she rises. Things are getting rowdy and she's reluctant to put a damper on it, which, if she stays it will be her duty to do. "If you can convince him otherwise, you're a magician, Tali." And with a little salute to the both of them, she - and her wineskin depart. Hopefully to make the Weyrsecond's night a better one.

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