Xanadu Weyr - Rustic Treetop Cafe
Perched on the cliff overlooking Xanadu's beach is a gnarled and massive skybroom tree. The bark and outer layers are sturdy enough to support the thriving, brushy top, but the interior, which is hollow, contains a spiral staircase that leads to a cafe built on a high platform amongst the branches. With a panoramic view of lake, sky, Weyr and the mountains beyond, the treetop eatery offers both sheltered seating just inside the trunk and tables on the wide deck that encircles the old tree.
The cafe's decor is comfortable and rustic, but closer inspection shows the smallest embellishments to be artfully combined into one detailed masterpiece. The wood of the doors, floor and walls of the trunk have been stained a dark mahogany that lends the space a sense of intimacy. Tables in various sizes have been carved to mimic driftwood, the chairs and benches padded with oiled sailcloth cushions to provide weather-proof comfort. Each table has an aged brass lantern filled with shells and agates gathered from Xanadu's shores, the sparkling natural mosaics holding tapered candles upright in their embrace. Lamps hang from the ceiling on silver poles, the thick frosted glass carved into intricate pastel shells or swirling white-capped waves. At night the colored glass softens the glowlight to enhance the ambience.
During the day, the retractable doors allow leaf-spattered sunlight to fill both the outer deck and the smaller interior with green and gold light, as well as allowing pleasant breezes to cool the interior. On clear nights, farviewers perch on the elaborately carved railing are free for use to enhance the gorgeous view of the stars over the Caspian Lake, the Sea of Azov beyond and the rock formations of the Weyr.
Early morning and late night seem to be the only time when E'tan can find some peace in his hectic schedule. Of course, all the efforts he keeps doing to avoid some meetings and flee can't be counted as he's very often grabbed back. This morning anyway, is his. Seated in a rather dark corner, he has his eyes on a report, a mug of steaming beverage in the other hand. Everything seems perfect but even if his smile betrays his contented mood, he keeps sending glances above the edge of his mug. One can't never be too much ready for anything that may arise.
He isn't the only one avoiding meetings. Though recently returned from her long absence, with a deep Istan tan to prove it, Esiae isn't walking into the place as though she owns it. Instead, she sneaks in with the dodgy manner of a person trying to get away from someone else, quick brown eyes seeking a dark corner - coincidentally, E'tan's corner - and heads that way. "Look busy," the junior weyrwoman says in a hushed whisper. "There's a minor lord holder after me, says we owe him for something, won't take no for an answer." Indeed, a man follows her in a moment later, scanning the crowd… but, either he sees her sitting with the weyrleader and chooses to leave, or he simply doesn't recognize her, because he leaves a moment later. "Whew." Leaning back in her chair, Esi pushes back flyaways and sighs pleasantly. "That was close." A moment passes in which she realizes exactly who's she's sitting with, and, well, color her sheepish. "Er, hi. I'm Esiae." Great first impression, right?
Bending one edge of his report and peering over it, E'tan noticed her, somewhat stealthily arrival. First a shadow then a silhouette, he kept his eyes on her, greatly amused. Looks like he's not the only one who use such evasive maneuvers. "I always look busy…" he first whispers when she seats next to him. And as the holder disappears, he raises his voice a tiny bit. "….because I really am. Tho not at this very moment." Raising his mug for a toast, this time, he offers a warm smile. "Morning Esiae. I'm E'tan…or simply Tani." This one clearly isn't that keen with all the formal introduction. At least in his own Weyr.
Esiae… well, she laughs for that, eyes scrunching up with a fierce smile. "Well, that's handy for escaping people, but not much fun otherwise," she says, leaning forwards on her elbows. When he claims he isn't busy just now, she squints at what looks suspiciously like a report, then glances back up at him. "Mmmhmm," she hums sassily, one eyebrow raising. "That's not what it looks like to me." She grins, though, and nods to accept his toast, realizing she has no drink of her own to return it. "Well met, Tani," she says, taking the nickname since he offered it. "It's nice to finally put a face to a name. Innes has been trying catching me up, but words can only do so much."
"Who says it's a true report?" Tani finally admit in a soft chuckle, showing it to her more closely. If the first two pages look rather boring, what's under is more pleasing to the eyes : a nice collection of drawings. Mostly bright and colorful….stars. Eye candy at least for him. "Well met, Esiae…." he adds, dipping his head once to a nearby waiter to bring the Junior Weyrwoman a warm drink. Another prerogative of the Weyrleader to be understood without a single word. "I just hope Innes didn't tell you everything…" He winks, taking a sip of his mug again, eyes mischievous just enough.
Esi's eyes flicker at him with amusement, then glance over the report when he shows it to her. "Well, looks like a report to me," she drawls, cradling her chin in one hand… but then, he hits page three, and the woman 'oohs' quietly, hands twitching as though she'd like to snatch that out from under him and look closer. She doesn't, so apparently she has some kind of manners, but she'd like to. "Shells, if my reports were more like this, I'd be done before noon every day," she says with a snicker. "Thanks," she adds when E'tan wordlessly orders a drink, that eyebrow of hers rising again when the man winks over at her. "Hmm," Esiae hums after a moment of consideration. "I guess that's for me to know, and you to find out," she says with a grin, sickly-sweet and clearly teasing, but then again, he started it, and two can play that game!
E'tan grins even wider at her as he quickly hands a page over. A nice spiral galaxy in false color, sparkling with hints of blue and magenta. "I'd be more than happy to help the staff be more productive. Here, Esiae. You can take it." Another sip here and clearly a shielding maneuver as her last words bring some shade to his cheeks. Caught at his own game but obviously willing to keep going. Bronzerider's genetic after all. He draws himself a little closer, exaggerating his voice in the purr-like level. "Beware, I've been told to be….persuasive at times."
Both of Esiae's brows go up this time, but it isn't a sarcastic expression for once. Instead, she's surprised and pleased, a slow, happy smile blossoming across her features. "Really? Thank you… Shells, but it's pretty." The page is accepted gently, the woman taking another minute to peruse it before very carefully sitting it on the table - far away from the klah that's delivered to her. "Thanks," she tells the waitress, gaze refocusing on E'tan just in time to catch his cheeks coloring. Hah! One point to her. The goldrider's smirk is downright devious as he leans in, the woman's own innate bravado keeping her from backing down. "Mmm, I've been told that by a great number of people and yet somehow, I manage," she trills right back, taking a delicate sip of her klah. "One would have to be very persuasive indeed." She is, after all, pretty good at escaping people, as evidenced by her earlier ditching of the lord holder.
Closing distance undeniably leads to intimacy that leads to dangerous situations but Tani doesn't seem to be that frightened. As well as learning to face his responsibilities, he's also ready to be up for any challenge. And this one is clearly a promising one. But, in a blink, he seems to lose all of his repartee, eyes glued to her lips for a brief instant. He lightly coughs, his cheeks bright. Luckily for him the relative darkness helps concealing his burst of emotion. "I…just can't express all of my talent….here." He coughs again, without moving an inch tho, holding her gaze.
Esiae's no fool. She knows he's gone red, and distracted, and, well, it's probably time to let the poor guy off the hook lest she be marked a tease. "Indeed… well, that's probably for the best. I don't kiss strangers, even handsome ones," she says with a wink. Breaking the moment, she leans back, lips still wickedly curved, but her gaze back to being friendly. "You're very good, though," she says with an assessing glance, a sort of respect glittering along with the humor in her eyes. "If that hadn't been /my/ tactic about a dozen turns ago, my panties'd be on the floor somewhere right now, I'm sure." She… means that to be reassuring, really she does, even as she relaxes back into her chair, both hands wrapped around her klah. "So. Other than being talented," she says with a bob of her eyebrows, "what's there to know about you, Tani?"
And how is he supposed to calm down with all of that? Of course it's all his fault. He started the whole thing after all but…wow. Okay, breathe Tani, breathe. He does so, blushing fiercely at her compliment but when panties are mentioned he can't help but gasp. He's been so deliciously burnt by such a nice wildfire he's almost glad she leans back in her chair. "We'll have to become more than strangers then.." he almost whispers nearly inaudibly. He then perks, jumping on her offer to switch to a less intense subject. "Well…lemme think…I have my head in the stars as often as I can I'd say…"
If Esiae catches that whisper, she doesn't show it, having gathered up that image of a galaxy in order to study it again, warm brown eyes tracing over different clusters of stars before glancing back up at him. "I gathered that," she says with a chuckle, raising the drawing as an example. "Former Starcrafter then, I'm guessing? My foster mom's one, too, though she took more of a General focus, as opposed to astronomy." Lowering the image again, Esi tilts her head, curious. "Did you come to Xanadu for the Observatory, or were you searched?" It's an honest question, at least - when this last clutch had been hatched, she was still abroad, soothing the itch for adventure.
E'tan raises his now empty mug at her guess, finally relaxing and taking control of his usual self. "Former starcrafter, yes. Tho I must confess I still spend some time in the Observatory." He grins, adding another wink. A playful one this time. "And not only to hide." here comes another chuckle before he continues. "Your mom is one then? And may I know who she is? As for the reason I came here, well, yes. The Observatory and also all the shiny technology. Of course, I knew what could happen, living in a Weyr and all. Let's say I was lucky enough to fulfill my dream and my brother's at the same time." Straightening on his chair he does look at her again, another smile edging the corner of his lips mischievously. "But we're only talking about me. I know nothing about you…" See? Not really strangers.
"Excellent. I considered Starcrafting, way back when. And Seacrafting. And Dragonhealing. Yet somehow, I became a Harper," she says a touch dramatically, one hand pressed to her forehead as though to demonstrate exactly why she became a Harper. Theatrics. "I visit it from time to time, too," she admits with a grin. "Sonyxaeth - my gold - seems to think there's a sort of destiny tied into the stars. She likes it when I observe them through the telescope and share what I see," she says with an affectionate eyeroll for her dragon. "Her name's O'rly, rider of green Sanldoth. She and her weyrmate keep to themselves, kinda, so you might not know them, but…" She shrugs, not judging them for their relative privacy. "We are a very shiny weyr, though," Esi admits with a laugh. "It makes visiting places like Ista very difficult. They're super low tech," she explains, in case he doesn't know. "Your brother's dream?," she asks, head tipping curiously again. As for her… "Don't you? You know I'm a goldrider, ex-Harper, I dodge my work, and I flirt outrageously to get what I want. What more do you need to know?," she laughs, head shaking at her own audacity. "But go ahead, shoot. What do you want to know?"
By the puzzled look on his face as he listens to her, it's obvious that Tani doesn't know her relatives. He does react at the mention of stars and destiny tho, smiling broadly. "My Saburath considers himself being made from stars…" He shrugs helplessly, adding a knowing look only riders can understand. Then something else makes him react but in a rather less cheerful manner. His brother. It's been turns from now and he learnt to manage the wound but on occasions, he still displays some kind of weakness. "He wanted to become a dragonrider since he was able to speak." A faint smile returns on his face and it widens with each of her words. Finally, he chuckles. "You pretty much summarized everything I wanted to know…" he teases, raising one finger tho. "There's maybe one thing…Are you a flirt with everyone to get what you want? I was beginning to think I was kinda…special… And err….did you get what you wanted?"
Esiae isn't surprised in the least. With their insane twins shipped off to another weyr, the pair have likely faded off the Xanadu's radar. Instead, her knowing grin matches matches his. "Well, we're all supposed to be made from stars, aren't we? I think that's the popular supposition anymore," she says jokingly. "Still. Dragons. What can you do," she adds with her own shrug. When E'tan sobers, she does too, lips twitching off to one side. "Sorry, I didn't mean to upset you," she says quietly, hands awkwardly turning her cup as though she's not sure what to do. She seems glad that she cheers him back up, though, her own small smile tilting up one corner of her mouth. She considers his question for a moment, then shrugs. "Well, not /everyone/, but I've been fluttering my lashes at boys since I was about thirteen to get rides to other weyrs and stuff, and it's become sort of a habit now. Most people take it as a joke, anymore," she admits with a grin. "I'm harmless, honest." Her head tilts a little to one side when he continues. "Ah, I see. Sorry. Not that you aren't special, I'm sure, but… I dunno. It's just how I act?" That seems a little lame, now that she's said it out loud, but there you go. "As for getting what I wanted, well, I guess so. Got you to open up and chat with me, didn't it?" Not that he wouldn't've anyways, but it's a bit of a shortcut really.
E'tan offers another true smile again, raising a hand to discard her embarrass. "Don't worry, I'm not upset. It's nothing but the past." Then, for a few seconds he keeps listening to her, nodding his head several times but very slowly. "I see." He echoes, stretching his shoulders some. "We're both harmless then, I guess. I tend to react quickly and maybe not in the proper way sometimes." He now snorts, still grinning. "A bad habit I took from a wild brownrider friend." Looking at her again, he idly scratches his left temple. "But yes…you did break the ice rather refreshingly."
"If you're sure…" Esiae still looks a little troubled for prying into something that turned out to be a bit of a sore spot, but she tactfully doesn't push it further. Instead, she flashes the bronzerider a bright grin, leaning forwards to rest her chin on one hand again. "Kindred spirits, then," she jests, flicking a finger to point at herself, then at him. "'Cause I'm definitely guilty of that, too." The goldrider laughs when he snorts, eyes lighting up with mischief. "Bad habits do die hard. I'm glad, though. Life's too short to dance around conversation, politely chitting and chatting just to get somewhere. I've had enough of it in the last couple turns. Only downfall of travel, that. You end up having the same old conversations with everyone you meet."
"Yes, I'm sure, Esiae…" and the bronzerider uses her name rather spontaneously here as he replies swiftly. "I…just don't want to ruin the mood. You got me all opened up once, I'm sure you'll be able to repeat the exploit." And here she leans closer again, making him swallow once. "I join you on that one. Conversations can certainly become, if not boring, kind of…empty tho, I'm usually not that eager to go…somewhere with someone." The smile that follows only mirrors the mischief in her eyes.
One slim eyebrow raises for the use of Esi's name, unsure whether E'tan's teasing or deflecting her. Maybe a little of both, she seems to decide, offering him a wry smile of understanding and a nod. "Fair enough. I understand." Shifting her chin off her hand again, the goldrider takes a sip of her klah before peering over the rim of the cup at him. "Empty. Yes. That's the word for it," she says with a slight snap of her fingers. "It just gets dull sometimes." His mischief is met with a bright laugh, though, brown eyes lit up with amusement. "You can be pardoned, I'm sure. What with my charm and quick wit, how could anyone resist," she jokes, flicking one lock of blonde hair over her shoulder with dramatic flair. Yep. Definitely a Harper.
E'tan slowly shakes his head, obviously greatly amused. It wasn't a defense move at all and he had to fight back an urge to grab her hand when he called her by her name. He still camps on his position tho, stubborn as he can be at times. "So I'm relieved in a way here after your theatrical confession…" And he dips his head approvingly, silently complimenting her Harper's side. "…I'm only a victim here. Victim of you powerful magnetism."
Esiae doesn't quite understand the source of E'tan's amusement, but she grins a little anyways. Spinning her mug in her hands again, the goldrider eventually sets it down and leans back, chuckling when the weyrleader nods her way. "Ha! Yes. You're off the hook. Everyone will understand, of course. They know my reputation for mischief here, so far as painting the weyr in the dead of night and setting off fireworks in the kitchens. 'Poor E'tan,' they'll say, 'He never stood a chance'," she murmurs, imitating the tone of voice an old caverns biddy would use, shoulders shaking with her laughter. "You're funny."
Now that's not the kind of reputation he'd want to be labelled with. Turns ago he wouldn't mind but now. Crossing his arms over his chest, Tani's smile slowly turns into one of defiance. "How about we call it even here. If I remember well, you called me handsome." Too much for him, he's clearly not used to Harper's tricks and dramatic inspiration so he bursts out laughing, adding a wink on top of that. "At least I didn't make you run away nor get you snooze because of my dull conversation."
Esiae snorts for that defiant look, eyes rolling slightly over a crooked grin. "Alright, alright. We both flirted outrageously and parted from it friends," she concedes. "Is that better?" She blinks when he reminds her that she called him handsome, but her face is honest when she shrugs and says, "Well, you are." She is a bit outspoken, as evidenced. "And, true. I've met worse weyrleaders. My brother, for one. Shards, but he was dull for a while there," she says with a grin and a wink right back at him. "Don't let the paperwork make you boring, alright?"
"Who said we parted already? I'm not done with you yet…" Okay, it seems like Tani can also be quite bold and outspoken, but he chuckles to ease his embarrass as she admits finding him handsome. And yet again something reaches his brain like a bite from a tunnelsnake. "You too are a weyrleader's sister? My…it's a conspiracy…" He mutters more for himself, flashing another bright grin. "I heavily count on you not to ever become boring…" Is that an order? Or a disguised proposal?
"Oh, aren't you?" Esiae can be defiant too, if the sudden jut of her chin is anything to judge by. For a second, she looks downright mutinous, as though she might walk away just to prove a point… but the mood passes swiftly with a twisted grin, head shading when she manages to make the man embarrassed again. Her mouth opens, as if to apologize for her frankness maybe, but then he's perking up and talking about conspiracies, and that's enough to distract her. "Too? Who else do you know who has a weyrleader for a brother?," she asks with a sideways grin before she explains. "But yeah, S'gam of Ista. He actually lived here a while, but that was a long time ago. I was only six or so when he moved there. Got himself a grumpy bastard of a bronze and somehow found himself leading." Bright eyes flash over at him, that brow raising up again. "Pff, shells, yeah. I'll make this weyr interesting 'til the day I die," she says, a promise if there ever was one, "just so long as certain people don't get high and mighty about what I do and don't accidentally blow up along the way." That is… said with way too innocent of a grin. Surely she doesn't mean that… cough.
E'tan is obviously very pleased with his little effect, this time stretching his shoulders to bring both hands behind his neck as he keeps grinning toothily. Oh he so wants to further tease, knowing where it could lead but for now, he simply decides to spare that thought and satisfy her curiosity. "Kiena's brother is Th'ero, Weyrleader of Fort." The words die in the relative silence that follows and he finally frowns a bit. Not at that last statement, no. But more because it reminded him of his own rank. Swiftly on his feet and grabbing his fake report, he does lean close to her, lowering his voice. "Xanadu is your home again and I entrust you to make it blossom in any way you think fit." Not a dull Weyrleader but impetuous one it seems. "It may be our first encounter but I can already declare that Xanadu is glad to have you back, Esiae. Now if you please excuse me…" as he starts to leave he does cast one last look over his shoulder, chuckling. "Try not to choke to death too many young and innocent riders. I still need some…"
Esi splutters - actually splutters - when she realizes she was played. Oh, well done! The score is tied, Esiae: 1, E'tan: 1. She doesn't get a chance to retort before he's explaining Kiena's relationship to Fort's weyrleader, but he'll definitely regret that someday. "Ah, gotcha. I don't think I've met Kiena yet," she murmurs, nose wrinkling. "Still, I guess that's one thing we'll have in common." When the bronzerider takes a more serious turn, Esiae does as well, lips pursing when he leans in and lowers his voice. Brown eyes squint, not sure if he's giving her permission to blow the place to smithereens or warning her against it. Either way, when he implies Xanadu's glad to have her back, she snickers quietly through her nose and nods her thanks, glancing over her shoulder when he pauses in his exit to tell her not to strangle anybody. "Nah. Choking's not my bit. Just some good, old-fashioned maiming," she says in that sing-song innocent voice, giving him a flippant wave goodbye before kicking her feet up onto his newly-vacated seat, clearly content to stay awhile.