Trespassing and Other Offenses

Xanadu Weyr - Archives
The the walls and ceiling of this large, windowless room have been fitted with wooden paneling and flooring. Kept polished, the dark finish gleams, covering cold stone, the thick tapestry on the floor muffles footsteps and further insulates from unwanted noise. Set with tall shelves that contain ledgers and tomes, maps and diagrams from the first founding of Xanadu to the present, arranged by topic, one can find records of domestic Weyr management, wing statistics, weyrling management, diplomatic efforts, weather reports, events and vital statistics all dating back over one hundred and fifty turns.
Though kept scrupulously clean and in glass-fronted cabinets, it's impossible for the older tomes not to have gathered some dust and mold over time, so the scent upon entering is of antiquity, musty, earthy and rich. Electricity provides ample lighting with which to see. A large wooden table sits in the center of the room with several seats arranged around it. Placed on the polished top is a stack of paper, a container of writing instruments, a large magnifying glass and basket of emergency glows.
On one shadowy corner, almost invisible behind the panel that forms the door, is a service access, given away by the brass key hole set at waist high in the wood. As it is kept locked, one would need a very good reason for wanting admittance and seek the appropriate person having the key to unlock it - the steward, the headwoman or one of the weyrleaders.

The hour is somewhere between midnight and the wee hours of the morning. Most of the Weyr is asleep, save those who are too angry or too busy. Darsce is… probably both. The administration hallway light is usually on but they've been turned off by… someone. In the darkened archives, at the far corner of the room is the metallic sound of a lock being picked. And soft, but ragged breathing. And the scent of whiskey.

Administrative working hours are, in theory, clearly defined. In practice, they exist in a state of multifactorate dynamic equilibrium. The definition of working hours, as implemented by administrative team upon each others' schedules, is one of the primary factors. The work which requires doing is another. The occasional late-night inspiration regarding a possible historical precedent is, at best, a tertiary factor, but on occasion, it rises to prominence. This is one of those occasions, and while Jethaniel left the hallway at the end of his usual workday, he returns here now. With his thoughts busy on past implementations and the scant light from the caverns, the darkened but familiar hallway neither slows him down nor rises to the level of conscious awareness. It's only when he enters the arches themselves that he notices it's too dark to see. This is, when one has not fully processed the situation, a simple problem simply resolved. Therefore, he turns on the lights. The gesture's already made before he realizes there are sounds here beyond those of the ventilation system.

So intent on her little chore, the sound of the archive door opening goes unheard. Or maybe her senses are dulled just enough that she fails to match the sound to action and think fast enough to duck behind a book case. The lights flood the room at the same moment the lock pops for Darsce. But it's too late to hide. She's in plain view. Maybe if she bolts through it fast enough the person won't notice? She's whiskeystupidthinking here and so goes with that without looking behind her. Only… her reflexes are slow and she's clumsy enough that there's no hope in hell that she's deft enough to dart inside before being spotted. She lunges (Darsce never lunges) inside and starts stumbling up those steps.

Jethaniel's thoughts of precedents and forms of order and research fall like so many papers scattered by a firelizard taking her ease in his inbox. The sounds brought his attention to the right place, even if he wasn't thinking about it, and so his gaze falls on, "Darsce?" She's unmistakable - or, at least, he believes he would not mistake her - and yet that does nothing to explain the situation. If anything, it makes it less comprehensible. Therefore, he investigates, striding with quick steps across the archives and after her.

Xanadu Weyr - Tower/Starstones Access
Cut from solid stone is a narrow tunnel forming a circular stair that leads upwards from the archives. The door at the bottom end is kept locked as is the metal hatch at the top. Upon stepping out you find yourself standing upon the exposed dome of the geologic monolith that houses the caverns, infirmary, crafters and administration complexes. The view here offers a splendid panorama of Xanadu Weyr. To the immediate east is a narrow metallic walkway leading to the column of stone - the natural spire that forms the starstones. Parts of the meadow and ridge can be seen beyond that. Directly in front and below is the clearing, flanked by the forest, hatching arena, tavern, clock tower and garden shop. Beyond the trees, glimmers the waters of Caspian Lake and the Sea of Azov, while almost lost to the distance is the coastline of the opposite shore and Black Rock Hold.
Just a few steps to the west, looms the tower that is responsible for Xanadu Weyr's shortwave radio communications. Reaching for the skies and lit by blinking red warning lights at night, this area is off limits to dragons landing due to the danger of fouling a wing on the guy wires that support it. While this area is mainly accessed by technicians and maintenance crew, it IS possible to accompany one up here as an assistant or as part of the crew assigned to keep the area ice and snow free in wintertime and clear of greenery and detritus in other seasons. One would need to see the steward, the headwoman or one of the weyrleaders to have the door unlocked.

Darsce knows the sound of that voice calling her name. Aaaaand it registers halfway up the stairs just whose it is. So her headlong flight up comes to a stop coincidentally at the same time she misses a step and flounders, reeling and almost comes tumbling back down the narrow stairway. If there's a light switch in here, she's neglected to turn it on. While she teeters there on the step, she peeks over her shoulder. "Um… yeah. It's me." Duh. Brilliant, Darsce! "Hi." Sniff.

Jethaniel didn't turn the lights on either. He failed to have sufficient foresight before setting foot to the steps, and thereby reduced his future efficiency in stair-climbing and created the potential for a workplace accident. Neither of those things is what concerns him about the darkness, however. The lack of light means he can only vaguely see Darsce, and that concerns Jethaniel. Did she just almost fall? Perhaps he should be worried about workplace accidents. His hand lifts, though he's too many steps behind for it to be an effective gesture. Her state - what he can make out of it - concerns him further. "Ah. Hello." The tone combines concern and confusion. There are many questions he could ask. 'What are you doing here?' or 'Are you drunk?' are options, but Jethaniel settles on a different one as he makes a slow way up the dim steps. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," lies Darsce, but it doesn't sound convincing, even to her own ears. "I just need… just need…" One hand against the stone wall is bracing her, keeping her from falling but she weaves a little on the step regardless. "I need to get up there!" She sounds distraught, almost frantic to get up there, but makes no move to scramble further up those stairs. Yet, anyway. Why? She doesn't say.

Jethaniel does not appear convinced. He frowns slightly, taking another step up the stairs. This is the point where he realizes he should have turned on the lights. That would, however, require him to turn back, and so he instead reaches out to touch the wall to keep his place as he continues to approach. His brow furrows. Up there? "…why…" What's up there? The starstones. The radio aerial. Important things, yes, but not that seem applicable to Darsce. He pauses, a few steps below her, and extends his hand, palm up. "May I come with you?"

Darsce can barely see Jethaniel, but then, she's been in the dark longer than he has while picking that lock so her eyes are likely better adjusted than his are. She places her hand in his. "Yes, sure," Darsce says and it's with none of her flirtatiousness he's probably used to hearing from her. As if he needs her permission! She wobbles up the rest of the stairs, there's a metallic thump, then a muttered, "Ow." She backs down - or tries to anyway, more like flounders into Jethaniel. "Just a sec, I need to pick the lock," she says.

Jethaniel requires no permission to ascend the stairs. He is, in fact, capable of granting such permission. To accompany Darsce, however, he requires a permission which only she is capable of granting. His fingers curl against hers. "Thank you." He smiles with relief, but only for a brief moment. The mystery remains, and yet he makes no further inquiry as he follows her up the stairs. What he lacks in night vision, he at least makes up in sobriety, and so he's conveniently placed to be bumped against. Fortunately, he does not fall down the stairs. "Ah. I… do not believe that will be necessary." He does have a key. He does not comment on the evidence of rule-breaking, freely confessed, but he does let go to reach for his pocket and then extend his hand past Darsce, groping in the dark for the lock.

Somewhere in the dim recesses of sobriety Darsce know this. She knows she shouldn't even be in here. And she knows she should definitely not have mentioned picking the lock! But his hand is warm and strong and she'd rather have his company trespassing than anyone else's. "Oh… yeah, you… would you please-" her other hand makes flappy motions in the vague direction of the shadowed trap door. Please, get them into fresh air so he doesn't succumb to whiskey fumes!

Not saying things is a skill Jethaniel has acquired as Steward. He employs it now as he feels around at the hatch, searching for the keyhole. It would assuredly be more efficient if he had turned on the lights, and yet he finds it difficult to entirely regret a circumstance which leads to more time spent close to Darsce. She's warm and soft, and he can hear the sound of her breathing… and smell the whiskey on her breath, which is a somewhat jarring note. Nevertheless. "…ah. There." The lock. His key. The trapdoor unlocks, and he pushes it on well-oiled hinges to reveal the sky above and a glimpse of the radio tower.

Alas! That's a skill that Darsce lacks totally. There's a sigh of relief from her as they emerge into the velvet black of the spring night. In the red glow when the lights blink on, Jethaniel will see a very different Darsce than he's used to. Her clothes fit her slim form the same way they always do, a loose-fitting sleeveless sundress that swishes gracefully about her knees, but her face is devoid of makeup as if she'd decided to retire for the evening, washed it until she's pink-cheeked and fresh-faced. Her hair, usually combed in a sleek curtain is left to tumble where it will. Her eyelids and the tip of her nose are pink and her cheeks are damp. She wobbles up the last few stairs and pauses to kick off her high heels. Once there the usually self-assured Irenian seems at a loss as to what to do with herself. She wanders aimlessly towards the edge where the blunt curve of the rock begins its drop off to the clearing far below.

Jethaniel returns the key to its place in his pocket as he ascends the last few steps. His feet are still feeling their way along the stairs, despite the increase in light, because his gaze is occupied with Darsce. A pleasant pastime, usually. This time, it brings a concerned frown to his face instead of a smile. His feet carry him after her, tracing the best-fit curve for her erratic steps. He's only hovering a little. Perhaps some of his silence is less skill and more uncertainty… or perhaps there are limits to his skills. He is not an expert at conversation. "What are you looking for?" Since, he presumes, something has brought her up past two locks. Given the whiskey, that something may or may not be rational, but he will give her the benefit of the doubt on that.

The question takes Darsce by surprise. When she turns to look at Jethaniel over her shoulder, she wobbles, then sinks in a sudden, but oddly graceful sit-down right at the edge, swinging her bare feet idly over the void. Still looking at Jethaniel, heedless of her precarious position, her slim brows knit in concentration. Then she remembers! "I wanted to go where no one would see me cry." And she hiccups.

"Ah." Jethaniel pauses in his pursuit. This would, indeed, have been a place suited to solitude. It is empty save for occasional maintenance, and such things are, barring disasters, not scheduled at night. Darsce's plan was a sensical one, but it appears to have encountered a difficulty. Specifically, it has encountered Jethaniel, and as a result, Darsce is no longer alone. "I'm sorry." He hesitates, but not for long. She did permit his presence, back on the stairs. So, Jethaniel continues toward Darsce, and lowers himself to a seat beside her on the edge with rather more caution than grace.

It is not lost upon Darsce that her statement was perhaps a little too bluntly-phrased. But right now she lacks the wherewithal to use the same tact she used just a few hours ago when imparting unpleasant things to her friends. "Don't be," she says as he settles beside her, "I'm glad you found me." Her iceblue eyes lift to him and she looks a little lost. In her hands is a bottle of whiskey, enough gone to have caused her present state. This is offered over to him. "My papa didn't need it; he's out cold."

So his presence is welcome here. That confirmation makes Jethaniel smile, just a little, and he inclines his head to Darsce in a nod. "I… am always glad to find you." His eyes lower, then settle on the whiskey as she extends it. He accepts the bottle from her, but makes no move to lift it or take a drink for himself. He does, however, lift his gaze, grey eyes regarding Darsce once more. There are questions he could ask; questions he wants, if not to ask, at least have answered. What happened? Why… oh, there are many whys that could be asked, but… he hesitates, overanalyzing the situation. His hand takes advantage of his distraction to reach for hers, and Jethaniel finally comes up with a question he's willing to ask. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Jethaniel's presence is indeed welcome. Somewhere in Darsce's muddled thought, the original motive for aiming herself at the administration hall was the need to find him. She might have tried his office doorknob, or she might have misjudged and tried the headwoman's. In either case, the rattle would have been barely-heard, tentative. A faint smile works its way across her mouth at Jethaniel's words. It's not the flip, smooth one she might give to just anyone. It's real, however pale, her lower lip relaxed enough that though a small one, it is neither cold nor tight. Her fingers intertwine with his when his hand finds hers. Does she want to talk about it? She can't look him in the eye, but instead ducks her head to tuck it on his shoulder. "I… oh Jethaniel they're going to make me leave Xanadu," she blurts starting at the very end, the way a drunk will do instead of starting at the beginning.

Whether the correct doorknob was located or not, it's unlikely Jethaniel was actually inside. There have been talks about office hours and off-work hours and maintaining both. Sternly worded ones, full of subtle threats. Evenings are for time away from work, and so Jethaniel's very presence in the archives tonight was, in some sense, a violation of the rules… albeit one that is a mere technicality in comparison to breaking and entering, trespassing, and… whatever else. Jethaniel's fingers curve with Darsce's elegant ones, and he turns his head toward her, his smile growing… then becoming confused. A lack of pertinent details will do that. "I haven't heard of…" He trails off, and gives his head a small shake, then leans in to touch his lips softly to Darsce's tumbled hair. "I don't think so."

Darsce's not even thinking about picking the lock to the service access door, in fact, she's probably forgotten all about that little attempt of hers. "They don't know yet. But they will because I made all of the Weyrlings angry. Well, not all of them. I'm pretty sure Idrissa, Soriana and my brother weren't mad, but Ka'el was pissed. I'm not sure about Marel." The shoulder leaning against him moves in a shrug that dismisses the bronzeriding weyrling's ire as pale in the light of the bigger outcome - her banishment. She lifts her head to peek at him, her eyes are leaking again, when she confesses, "I borrowed (yes, let's call it that) an AWLM knot from Thea's office and got them to meet me in the tavern for dinner and drinks. And then I gave them their mating flights lesson. Only… it didn't work and I made it worse for them. Not better."

Here come details, and Jethaniel tries to keep up with them. His expression is thoughtful and intent, the same one when he's studying a particularly complex circuit diagram or checking the figures in a ledger. This time, the figures are Weyrlings, but they're in red ink nevertheless. Jethaniel nods to that, but the ire of the Weyrlings is not, of itself, a significant problem. There must be something more. When her eyes lift, his fingers squeeze against hers, his throat shifting with words swallowed back. More details are coming. He listens, drawing out the diagram in his head. Not circuits, this time. A heist diagram, perhaps. "…without, I presume, permission." His voice is soft; talking to himself, as he does when encountering a challenging problem. "Nevertheless. I do not think impersonating a weyrlingmaster is a banishable offense."

"Really?" Jethaniel has thrown Darsce into confusion with that assessment and her face contorts comically while she tries to suss the ramifications of that out. If there were less whiskey in her bloodstream, she might succeed, but right now what falls into the missing puzzle-piece void of reasoning is: that Weyrwoman's knot might come in mighty handy someday. She dips her head to study their hands and since she's not using her other hand to lift the bottle she's given to him and probably forgotten all about, she plays with their laced fingers instead. He hasn't asked her why. But she'll tell him with the candor alcohol encourages, "I didn't have permission, no. But," her chin lifts proudly, "I know about what happens because of flights." Her lashes lift so her eyes can meet his, her iceblue eyes unveiled in which pain, anger and resignation mingle, "and it sucks!" She sniffs and swipes at her left eye with the heel of her hand, her right eye still meeting his. "And it sucks to have someone teach the details while watching how you react so they can dissect your feelings with mindhealers." Her hand drops to her lap. "It wasn't a joke," she says lowly.

Technically speaking, any offense is banishable if those with the power to banish choose to define it as such. There is a great deal of autocratic power in the management of a Weyr; it is a system highly susceptible to favoritism. Perhaps what Jethaniel actually means is that he thinks he is capable of arguing Thea down from any attempt to banish Darsce. Then again, the Weyrwoman could always fire him. He smiles, and nods to Darsce. "Really." His gaze remains on her, watching the expressions on her un-made-up face as his fingers flex to her touches and curl in closer afterward. A form of rebound effect, perhaps; one that makes him smile. A distraction from her words, but the distraction doesn't last, and as his gaze meets hers, neither does the smile. It's concern, in his gaze, and a curiosity that wants even the answers to the questions he hasn't asked. He gets an answer, and it makes him frown. "No," he says after a moment. "You wouldn't cry for a joke." The frown lingers, and then he turns his head away, looking out over the Weyr. "I am… glad I do not have to know." His voice is quiet. "I suspect any form of learning about it would…" His lips quirk. "…suck."

"Flights wrecked everything for my momma and papa," declares Darsce with feeling. "But they didn't have to. I wanted to tell them that… I wanted to tell them…" Her speech is a little more slurred and her lean against him more pronounced, her head finds his shoulder once more but this time it's with a little thud of neck muscles no longer able to remain taut enough to keep her head erect. "…. it's for the dragons'n not…put it in a place outside your heart'n don't let it come between…" Her voice trails off, her body weight slumps against him, though not excessive it is complete. She's passed out. Awkward? At least she didn't pitch over the side and fall. But then, she's fallen long ago.

Jethaniel can't keep his eyes away for long, and he returns them to Darsce. He listens, with careful attention. Does he understand? Perhaps not, but he listens. He keeps listening, as words trail into silence, and for a few moments, he listens to the silence. It's not entirely silent, of course. There's the sound of breathing, and more distant, the sounds of the Weyr at night. Jethaniel untangles his fingers from Darsce's, but it's only to put her arm around her and so prevent her falling (over the edge). Practical would be to move her back, to send her to bed and go get some sleep. Tomorrow may be an interesting day in the administrative wing. Jethaniel should be well-rested for it… but he stays where he is, watching sleepy Weyr and sleepy Darsce in turn. He'll be yawning tomorrow. He'll have a sore butt, too.

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