Hitting it Off

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 lunchtime at Xanadu and the caverns are bustling with activity. Even K'ael's table is full today, even if he's a smelly bronzer. Though it's mostly his wingriders who are crowded around him. They seem to be done eating, and after a few moments the bronzer apparently shoos them away so he can finish the rest of his meal in relative peace and quiet. Plus they needed to get back to work, of course. And so K'ael remains, with his bubbly and his juice by himself. Well, except for Pommel, who is sitting on the table in front of him and looking up at the bronzer expectantly.

Busy busy busy. Makes it very hard to find a seat, and competion means one has to be quick when a vacancy is spotted. Or several vacancies. Ashkeia doesn't bother with a 'by your leave' when there's a sudden exodus, quick steps bringing the tall apprentice over to the bronzerider's table and her plate and mug promptly set down. Her seat now! That is when she says, "Hope you don't mind. It's practically elbow to elbow in here." Or she just doesn't like crowds.

K'ael the bronzer smiles to Ashkeia as she takes a seat at his table. "Hm, well, I only mind if you're one of my wingriders. And are here to ask me lots of questions about hypothetical disasters here and what we would have to do about them. That usually seems to be their favorite topic of conversation." He chuckles. "I'm K'ael, by the way. And you are a glasscrafter, though I don't think I've met you. And yes, the caverns are quite crowded. I think I should have come to eat a little later."

Ashkeia's brows arch upward, a smile caught between uncertain and amused pulling at her lips. "Uh. Definitely not. And I don't think my hypothetical disasters are ones that dragonriders would have to worry about, so you're still safe. Ashkeia." Her own name provided with an unnecessary nod to confirm what her shoulder knot has already announced. "Nice to meet you, K'ael." Settled by now, she picks up her fork and nips down a couple quick bites. "Only trouble with later is, you might have more seats but probably less selection. Especially on the desserts, which might disappoint him from the looks of it." With a dip of her fork to indicate Pommel.

K'ael smiles at her. "Ashkeia. I like that. It's got a little K'ael in it. Maybe I'll steal it if I have any more girls." There's a nod to her. "Same. Ah, that's true. Plus everything is cold then, and doesn't usually taste as good." He pokes at the bronze, who chirrups, then flits over to his shoulder to sit there instead. "He's had enough already. He's learned to catch flying bits of food, so now my wingriders entertain themselves by throwing their lunches at him."

"Hmm, name theft. That could be awkward," Ashkeia notes with a laugh. "How many have you got?" She pulls a face at mention of cold food, her nose wrinkling. "Lunch on the wing. At least that should keep him from getting fat?"

K'ael chuckles. "I'd at least promise not to send to her to the glasscraft? I've got five. Two boys and three girls. Er… that I'm sure about, at least. Mostly. How about you? Got any little ones? You seem a little young for that though." He grins. "Yeah. Though I cut them off before he overeats. He doesn't hunt too much, he's too spoiled and needy."

Ashkeia's smile this time is firmly on the side of amused, appearing once she lowers her mug after having taken a drink. "Less awkward, then. Might also want to avoid Windy Ridge, not that anyone in their right mind wants to go there. But my family would definitely be left scratching their heads." Her brows creep back up towards her hairline again, hiding beneath her thick bangs. "Five, wow. That's a respectable brood. Ah." She blinks, fork suspended halfway to her mouth as she sends a 'are you serious' look across the table at the bronzer. "No. No time for relationships, never mind children. And there's the whole matter of rules, anyway."

K'ael chuckles a bit. "Mm. Yes. Maybe I could change it around a bit and still have it be as pretty. Windy Ridge, hm? Can't say I've ever been." He nods a bit, then shrugs. "Mostly flight babies. Unfortunately I don't see them very much." He blinks at her, then grins. "I thought not. You're an apprentice, so I guess that makes sense. Not married either I take it then. So what's your specialty? Or is it too soon to ask?"

"Herdbeasts. Loooots of herdbeasts." Such is Ashkeia's description of her home, spoken in the slightly scornful tone of someone who is very glad to have escaped. After a moment of thought, she adds with a chipper sort of wickedness, "Bet your dragon would like it. If he were hungry." Brown eyes sparkle innocently for a few moments more before she sobers. "Oh? That's a shame. It's nice when you can be close to your family." She gives a quick shake of her head, the M-word alone enough to make her look a little spooked. "Etching," she says quickly. "Or, it will be. I've only recently been allowed to start studying it. Since I apprenticed I was focusing on painting, both glass and pottery, along the general lessons."

K'ael chuckles. "We have grapes where I come from. Everywhere around. Just lots and lots of them. Makes for good wine though." He laughs to her then. "True, he would. He eats quite a lot, he's very large. And muscular." Sort of like the bronzer himself. He nods to her. "Ah. I know Moria quite well, she's a glasscrafter as well, not sure if you know her. She actually does the blowing and such. Mostly practical sorts of things though."

Ashkeia grins, "I think I'd rather grapes. They don't sneeze in your hair or kick you in the knees. Also, no one thinks it's daft to paint them on plates or etch them onto mirrors." Leaning back a little, the apprentice lifts her foot to rest it on the edge of her seat, her shin pressing against the table. "I haven't the breath for that. I was interested, though more for the fancy things, figurines and such. But trying to sustain my breath like you need to makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. Guess all my talent's in my hands." She spreads them, palms up, as if putting them on show. "How long have you been a 'rider?"

K'ael laughs. "Well, I'd say they smell nicer, but usually the fertilizer isn't very nice smelling. They can be nice to look at though. Until you realize you have to go out and harvest them." The bronzer finally picks up that bubbly that's just been sitting there to take a bite from it. "Ah. Moria I think had to work at it for turns. It's interesting to watch. Though I bet the etching is as well. I've always been fascinated by crafters practicing, but I haven't any of that sort of talent. I can lift things, that's about my only talent." He grins. "You have nice hands." The bronzer puts his big paws up to her hands. "Heh. If I tell you that it will make me seem old… But about ten turns now, if you must know."

Ashkeia makes another face, far more disgusted than just cold food warranted. "Ugh, no it isn't. Is it tedious, then?" Harvesting. Nodding in agreement, "It is pretty fascinating. Well, it is for me at least. I'm not sure if it'd be as interesting to someone who wasn't involved in the process." She tips her head then, curious, "What about those hypothetical disasters your wing likes to talk about? Doesn't that have anything to do with what you can do?" She smiles for the hand comparison, her own long-fingered and slender, though not unblemished. Small cuts and burns have left evidence behind in the form of a speckling of pale, tiny scars. "Old is about sixty. Maybe even sixty-five. You're what… twenty-five? -six?"

K'ael nods. "Very. Though I was good at it. But my dad has plenty of other boys, and new ones up and coming. I like dragons, so I left." He smiles. "It would be fascinating to watch you work though." The bronzer blinks, then laughs at her. "You must think I'm the wingleader or something." He winks to her. "I suppose I'm good at giving orders, too. And keeping order. Twenty-eight, actually. How many turns are you?"

"And one liked you back, that's fortunate," Ashkeia notes. "But you probably could have studied dragonhealing if you wanted, right?" She flashes a bright grin, looping her arms around her raised leg and resting her chin on her knee. "Well, you did describe them as 'your' riders. What did you expect me to think? Ohhh, so you're almost halfway to old," she teases. "Eighteen."

K'ael ponders this for a moment. "I suppose I could have." He laughs then. "Can you imagine me as a dragonhealer though? The dragons would all run away from me." He rubs the back of his neck and grins. "Alright, yeah. Wingleader and all of that. I've read all the books, but something unexpected can always crop up." He chuckles to her. "See? I got ten turns on you. It's about time you impressed, hm? Or you not planning to?"

Ashkeia laughs softly, "I've only just met you. I could imagine you as anything but I lack the knowledge to know what would be ridiculous or not. Why do you say they'd run, though? You seem nice enough so far." Lifting a hand, she brushes her bangs to the side. "I didn't think it was the sort of thing you could plan for? It either happens or doesn't, and no one knows why. It's not something I ever considered for myself, though. At least, not since I was like, six or so. Playing dragonrider, it's still a popular game."

K'ael laughs and shrugs. "I dunno. I don't look… gentle or whatever. Like a healer ought to." The bronzer gives her a dimply smile. "Well, I guess not. How long have you been at the weyr? A lot of people get searched, a lot of people impress. Would you stand if you were asked? I guess that's more of what I was trying to get at. Some crafters aren't interested. It can be hard to do both."

Ashkeia asks, "Do dragons care about that? I thought it was only people who were bothered with appearances. You have a kind face… I think that should be more important than how broad your shoulders are." She pauses, drumming her fingers absently on the table, brow furrowed as she thinks. "Um. A month or so? I lose track of time when I get really involved in a project, so I'd have to go check a calendar. I don't know if I would or not. I mean, I could sit here and mouth off about how a candidacy period would interrupt my lessons and if I /did/ Impress I'm looking at what? At least another turn before I'd be allowed to resume my studies? But that's really all hypothetical. I don't think I could give an honest answer until such time as I was genuinely asked. Just because you never considered something doesn't mean it's not a possibility. You know?"

K'ael chuckles. "No… I suppose not. I guess it's more about the way you are on the inside that dragon care about." He smiles and nods. "Ah, I was wondering why I never saw you while I was poking around at the crafter complex. How you liking weyr life so far?" The bronzer taps his chin. "Yeah. At least a turn. Even after you graduate it's hard getting back into the crafter mindset. And there are other complications. Flights and such." He nods to her. "Ooh, I'm keeping you here, aren't I? If you gotta get back don't let me keep you. I can walk you back if you might get into trouble."

Ashkeia grins again, straightening up as she lowers her leg to place her foot back on the floor where it belongs. "You poke around the complex often? Watching processes, or have you got a girl there?" She lifts a shoulder in a shrug. "It's… different. Easier to do draconic studies," she adds with a laugh. "Which probably actually tells you just how little of the life I've actually paid attention to. I guess I'm pretty single minded. Huh?" Blinking, she looks around, before laughing again, this time self consciously. "See, told you I lose track of time. I'm supposed to be working on some paintings this afternoon, low priority, so I don't think anyone will yell at me for being a little late. Thanks though. Maybe we'll be able to chat again sometime soon, hm?"

K'ael chuckles. "Well, Moria and I had a thing. So I used to poke around pretty often. Over now though." He grins to her. "Maybe I'll poke around to see you instead now. Easier to do draconic studies, hm?" The bronzer laughs a bit. "Well, it's good to love your craft, or any job really. And it's good that I've been so good at keeping you occupied." He stands then, stretching out a bit. "Come on, I'll walk you to the complex at least. My weyr is in the meadow. It'll be the one with the big scary bronze outside. If you want to stop by some time we can chat."

Ashkeia's brows go travelling upwards again, an 'ahhh, interesting' expression passing over her features. "Well, if you ever feel the need for a painted plate, I'm your girl," she jokes as she gets to her feet. "Yeah. Much easier to observe them just being themselves instead of posing. As scary as you are, I'll bet." Which is to say, not very, as she turns an amused grin on him. Plenty glad for the company, it might become clear on that walk that outside of her mentor and the people she works with regularly, she hasn't really made any friends yet. Not for lack of being sociable, that's for sure. At least, not once she opens up.

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