Things Are Not as They Appear

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.

It's a miserable day out as the weather brings a rather harsh taste of the winter to come in the form of sleet and freezing rain. Most have fled for the indoors and staying well clear of the slippery and slushy mess the grounds have become. With the hour just drawing close to the time for dinner, the caverns have begun to slowly pick up with traffic though for now only a few early arrivals are seated and settled among the various tables. Seated as close to the hearths as he can be and still be tucked a bit away, one stocky, barrel shaped man sits hunched in his chair, his patched and heavy work jacket hung over the back of his chair and dripping slightly on the floor as it dries. Scattered plates, now picked clean, indicate that he's already enjoyed a hearty meal and now sits brooding in thought over the mug of whatever drink he's chosen to pass the time with. He's alone, or so it seems and no others seem to be around him. All perfectly normal… right?

Of all the days to get assigned a chore that involves going outside, it just had to be this one, didn't it? Soriana heaves a sigh of relief as she enters the caverns again with an armful of old glows. At least she's done now with going by all the weyrs who've requested new ones and trading out. She just has to return these to the storerooms, and then she can actually rest and dry off. Finally! Hunched inside her oversized jacket, she pauses at the entranceway to stomp her feet and try to get the worst of the slush shaken off before she steers her burden of glows down the hall to deposit in the storerooms.

The lucky Weyrwoman, to be stuck inside all day out of the wet and cold, right? One would think so, unless they knew her well enough to know otherwise. It's just now that she enters the caverns and with a ledger in one arm, so it appears she's loaded with work that she's going to continue while wolfing down something to keep her weyrmate from grumbling that she's neglecting herself. In fact, he's been in there prodding her to do just that but thankfully not staying to eyeball her and make sure that she's swallowing enough food. He's heading on out through the caverns into evening sweeps it seems, and she lets him go with a quick kiss to his rough cheek and a sigh as pale green eyes follow his trek to the entrance where Soriana might get a fleeting smile before she heads towards the serving tables with a purpose. Tucking that ledger under her arm to free both hands, whatever she puts on that plate is dashed there with little thought, mug of klah, napkin, fork, and knife scooped up with a bit of a juggle. Then she's looking for a seat and it so happens that she winds up at Laris' table, seats herself with a pleasant nod to the unknown man as she settles things and comments idly, "Looks like the weather is turning sour."

Laris glances up at the sound of booted feet stomping across the floor and his blue eyes focus on Soriana and the burden of glows she carries. There's a brief flicker of interest, barely noticeable, but then the girl is gone and the man turns back to his thoughts. Thea's arrival isn't noted until her movement by his table catches his eye and there's a subtle lift of his head though there's no change in his expression until the Weyrwoman actually sits. He adopts just the right amount of politeness and distance, when perhaps inside he's on edge and as tense as a tautly pulled wire. "So it does, eh? Winter is coming, that's for certain." Laris agrees in a deep, gruff voice and his accent is obviously not of the Xanadu region but neither is it entirely easy to pin point. "Makes it hard to do one's work in the forests when it's more ice then wood." He lifts his hand and scratches at his beard then, leaning back in his chair and offering a vague grin towards Thea.

After some time back in the stores to get those old glows put away, Soriana emerges once more. She looks outside at the weather and makes a scowly face, then over at the dinner foods and replaces it with a grin. Over to those she goes, grabbing a plate and spending some time in picking and choosing over her meal. Definitely some of those baked tubers with meat drippings… hmm. On the other hand, the wherry looks just a little dry tonight, and it takes a decent amount of poking around before she finds a slice that meets her satisfaction. Finally the plate is assembled, and she gets a mug of warmed cider to go with it before walking over to look for a place to sit. Hmmm…. her gaze ends up on the still emptyish tables near the unknown man and the Weyrwoman. Well, that'll do. She heads over that way, setting down her plate a few chairs over and sliding herself in. "H'lo," she offers to Thea with a polite nod.

Thea seems to take Laris at face value - at least for now. "It is," she agrees of winter coming with a bit of a face pulled. "At least ours aren't as long as Fort's are." Just idle commentary, really, as she smoothes her napkin on her lap, head bent for a moment to make sure she's gotten it right then lifts her eyes to smile back at his vague grin. "I'm sure it does, especially if everything ices up; hopefully it won't. We appreciate the wood, especially in winter." Her gaze shifts significantly towards the crackling fire so nearby, then she retrieves the ledger from under her arm, places it on the table beside her plate and takes up her fork. Soriana joins them then and she gives the girl a pleasant smile. "Thea, please. And hello." Sea green eyes flicker between the two and she says, "I haven't met either of you, I don't think. If you're new, welcome to Xanadu Weyr." She's informal despite the knot on her shoulder.

"Been north to Fort then before?" Laris asks with feigned curiosity of a man who may never have been himself and plays that part just a little more. "Afraid I ain't ever been that north but the tales I hear make me glad, I think. Not that a bit of cold scares me off. Just makes for miserable work." Idle commentary indeed and harmless. Just casual words over drink and food and nothing more it seems. There's a low chuckle from Laris at Thea's mention of the appreciation of all the fresh cut wood and the man nods his head. His comment is cut short however, as Soriana joins them and the man turns his blue eyes to the girl and his gaze lingers there until Thea grabs his attention again. He pulls off a good impression of a sheepish smile of a man realizing that certain formailities have been skipped. "New yes, by a few days now. M'name is Sarl. Came here with m'daughter and was in luck it seems that Xanadu had work t'offer." He drawls.

Soriana focuses in on her plate, taking a bite of food, and so it's a moment before she looks up and notices eyes on her. She swallows the bite of food, taking a sidewise look back at the unknown man. What's he's staring at her for? Then Thea speaks again, and Sori smiles. While the two have had a passing mention to each other, it's no wonder Soriana remembered the weyrwoman better than Thea remembered the weyrbrat. It's kind of nice to have blended in here, actually… here where there are others for her to blend with! "I'm Soriana. Sorrin's daughter."

While Laris speaks, Thea surveys her plate with a bit of dismay. It seems she took the beans, some squash and a chunk of cornbread but no meat. Go figure. With a little sigh, she scoops a forkful into her mouth, chews and swallows before answering. "Well yes, for hatchings and meetings. To visit N'shen while his Taozyuth kept Neyuni's brooding Zhuth company. He's my son!" She beams as she says that last bit with the sort of pride only a mother could have, though if they've seen the dark-skinned young rider they might puzzle a little over that. Her attention flicks to Soriana, she's intent upon the girl's answer and when it comes, she coughs. Oh riiight. She should know her own junior weyrwoman's daughter, shouldn't she? Her grin is merry, however, "Yes, well. Does your mother still recognize you? This stuff-" and she thumps the ledger with the butt of her fork, "has burned me brainless. Though she tells me she likes it." Que eyeroll at paperwork, loving it or both. "Well-met both of you. I hope you're settling in alright?"

Laris gives another nod of his head and his grin seems a little more at ease as Thea beams with the pride only a mother could have. "Ah, I see!" the man rumbles with just a hint of amusement that carries somewhat to his eyes. Truthfully, he's storing every tidbit of information into that head of his, playing a simple laborer with enough manners to get him through some idle conversation when he's anything but. And perhaps all his staring at Soriana will be soon explained, but not before he takes another pull of his drink and draining it at last, setting the mug down and lifting his other hand to wipe his mouth clear. Well… so much for manners? Even with the brief gesture, a keen eye would catch that that hand is odd in the sense it's missing fingers. But just as soon as it's used, it's hidden again, tucked subtly just-so so that it's there but the injuries are as masked as they can be. "Just fine. Been Turns since I stepped foot in a Weyr so it ain't too big a shock. M'daughter though…" And again, his gaze drifts to Soriana for just a moment before shifting back to Thea. "… well, she's a shy little thing. Now that she's in her lessons though, perhaps it'll help." And he gives a slight helpless shrug then as a father simply accepting the situation given to him.

The mention of hatchings makes Soriana grin with pleasing memory, and while she doesn't actually recognize any of the dragons or riders named after that, she still pays attention with the interested look of a girl who intends to one day have such recognition. After all, this Taozyuth must be a bronze, if he's with a broody (and so golden!) Zhuth. Therefore, it is interesting, and Soriana is interested. Thea's grin at the lack of recognition is soon answered with one of her own. "So long's I bring the klah, she knows me by halfway through the mug," she replies in a playful tone. This weyrbrat, at least, seems unfrightened by Thea's position.. after all, it's not that much higher than her own mother's. "I like it here," she says to the other question. "There's a lot going on, but… in a good way." The looks from Laris continue to perplex her (and maybe concern her just a little) until he mentions a daughter of his own. Ah. Sense is made! "How old's she?" Terrifying babyspawn, or sensible young person?

Thea doesn't see past the facade, though she does give the 'woodcutter' a vaguely quizical glance for the staring at Soriana. Yes, she's noticed that and the missing fingers as well, but those she doesn't even blink at. He works with saws and axes, after all and accidents do happen. Even him wiping his mouth on his sleeve doesn't raise an eyebrow, which is probably explained by, "My father is Cold Stone's master up back of High Reaches - I'd never been in a Weyr until I was searched." So she's from the backwoods herself, so-to-speak, though her manners are impeccable despite her easy informality that appreciates Soriana's lack of timidity. She chuckles at the comment, then remarks, "I'll have to ask my twins if she's in their group; they're almost ten turns old. What's her name?" She then fills her mouth with food, so she's silent but interested in Laris' answer.

Laris only gives a curious tilt of his head and a bit of a heavy frown as he runs the name though his head. It ends with him shrugging and his expression relaxing with another lopsided smile. "Cold Stone seems an aptly fittin' name for a place up in the Reaches." He muses with a deep and hearty sounding chuckle. Then Soriana is questioning him and Thea as well and the man can only grin. Fatherly pride perhaps? Or another ruse. "Just shy of nine Turns now, she is. And her name is Ilarua." He offers freely enough, with just a flickering glance of interest to Thea at the mention of her twins and then he's pushing back his chair and rising slowly to his feet. Simultatneously he's grabbing his now half-dry jacket and with a grimace that is both apologetic and not, Laris hastily murmurs, "Afraid I'll have to cut our chat short. 'M due back soon, sleet or no sleet. You two have as good a day as possible, given the miserable weather." Tipping his good hand in a rough sort of half wave, half salute, he shrugs his jacket on and then turns to walk heavily towards the cavern's entrance without a second glance back and lingering only long enough to catch their farewells before disappearing entirely.

Soriana layers tuber on top of her wherry, and cuts out nice square bites of the combination. Mmmmm. Tasty! The fire's doing a good job of drying her out after that sleet, too. This is one of the nice parts about this busy Weyr. As for other parts.. hmm, nine turns and ten? That's dangerously close to being babies still. Not like her, approaching fourteen turns as she is. There's a little bit of a frown, followed by a nod. "Prob'ly are the same class, then," she muses. When the woodcutter goes to leave, she offers a wave to him, but no further comment, just turning her attention to the plate of food before it gets cold.

Laris is that quick to connect the climate with the area and thus is given a keen look for the comment. "Oh, you've been to High Reaches then." But he's talking about his daughter and, ever the concerned one about people settling in, she nods at the age he gives. Obviously she's making a mental note of the name, her lips moving silently repeating 'Ilarua' even as she's flicking Soriana a ruefully sympathetic grin. Yeah, they're in completely different leagues at this point in their lives and she knows it. "Take care," she calls to the departing Laris, eyes moving past him to the darkened entrance. Much as she'd prefer not to be stuck in an office, she doesn't envy him tonight. Her dinner likewise is given the attention it should and though her plans were to work while eating, she foregoes this to chat easily with Soriana about the weather, the runners and if she's making friends. Harmless topics those, since the girl is not on her list of troublemakers and it's likely she lacks the sort of radar for picking up on anything, especially tonight. And though companionable, she doesn't linger but takes her leave with a grimace and a, "Back to work for me. See you." Afterwhich she and that ledger head back into the office complex.

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