Andy, In the Clock Tower, With a Knot (Andalise is Searched!)

Xanadu Weyr - Clock Tower
The walls of the tower are the same dark gray stones that make up the outside of the tower. The central portion of the structure is open, so that one may stand in the center of the structure and see the top. Well…almost the top. A ceiling cuts off the view to whatever it is that's at the very top of the tower. Very little light comes in, just tiny beams of light from the arrow-slits in the walls. The floor is of dark hardwood slats, thin enough to have been worked easily but thick enough to provide protection from insects and wildlife that might be trying to get in.
A wooden staircase is built along wall, one that spirals up and up around the inner wall of the structure. It leads a workshop, where along every wall there are…clocks, of course! Clocks of just about every configuration one could think of, and quite a few that are outlandish enough to escape one's consideration at first. While most of these clocks are working, there are more than a few of them that aren't. The gentle ticking sounds fill the space, the clocks almost always perfectly in sync with each other - and with the ticking from the movement of the big clock above—and the sounds mingling together to form an ordered cacophony of sounds.
Clock parts are strewn across a table in one corner. There are a couple of cabinets with parts in them like the ones downstairs - parts that are significantly smaller than those on the first floor. These are obviously for the smaller clocks that are built here. There are no less than two large grandfather clocks in this workshop, both working.
A thick support threads through a large hole in the center of the floor, extending from below to above. A chain hangs beside it too, anchored high above, and the spiral staircase continues up, past a door on the outside and on to more storage space, dedicated to piles of crates with springs and "little" parts for the clocktower's main movement. Of course, the word "little" may not be the best way to describe it; some of these springs and levers are longer than a man's arm. And some of the gears in these crates a man could actually put his arm through the middle of easily.

Never is one more aware of time passing one by than in the clock tower. Though a marvel itself, filled to the brim with fascinations, it would seem that R'hyn is in the company of the only individuals capable of making it boring. Tucked into the workshop's far corner, the weyrleader's resting on his laurels in a way that very much implies he wishes he weren't, arms crossed, one foot jiggling, eyes straying everywhere but towards the men discussing what looks like a Pernese cuckoo clock. Various interesting-looking wall clocks are eyed; the papers folded beneath one arm are pulled out, adjusted, leg-tapped, and tucked away again. He even strays his gaze up and to the side - towards the ledge, to those familiar with the clocktower and its workings, towards where a harlequinned bronze is dozing, accidentally projecting dreamy, golden thoughts into the minds of those that come too close to the tower's base. R'hyn's weight shifts as though he's about to head up and out towards said dragon, but the hand of a particularly stuffy-looking journeyman crafter extends, asking him to wait just a moment, weyrleader and back R'hyn goes into his fidgety boredom.

A small scuffle and a soft, startled sound resolve into first the head, then the remainder of pink-cheeked Andalise who may have almost tripped on her way up the stairs; the furtive glance she shoots toward the crafters deep in discussion once she emerges into the workshop proper may have nothing to do with her entrance and everything to do with an incident of several turns past involving the untimely jostling of a table that sent some painstakingly selected parts off into corners unknown. If she keeps her chin ducked down and all but sneaks toward the far wall, she might make it across the room without being spotted until she's practically within conversational range of the fidgeting bronzerider. Only then does she straighten and oh-so-carefully pivot so that her back is to the cluster of cuckoo-examiners. By the way, "I'm not here," she stage-whispers in R'hyn's direction, in case her poor attempts at stealth didn't already communicate the obvious.

Alas, poor Andalise - R'hyn is looking for literally any distraction from the tedium of a discussion he didn't expect to be a part of in the first place, so when the baker apprentice all but stumbles into his field of view, his attention is on her, unerring. And amused. Very, very amused. It might not show on his features - he's had just a few turns playing parent to would-be pranksters and stand-up comedians - but blue-grey eyes come alive with mirth, and from afar, the golden nebulousness of Xermiltoth's mind narrows its focus in a way that is notable, if Andalise is paying any sort of attention. A soft themesong beat times itself along with her steps, eliciting a snort from R'hyn, whose hand lifts to cover mouth and nose, gaze flicking from her to the crafters to make sure they didn't notice his choke or the perfectly normal sneaking of a full-grown woman. "The cogs, man, the cogs—" Nope, we're good, but R'hyn's foot-shaking slows to a stop just in case, and he assumes a casual, nothing-to-see-here pose reading his papers again as Andalise performs that perfect pivot (and thusly ends Xermiltoth's song). "Who isn't here?," comes with a sweeping of R'hyn's eyes across the workroom, gaze breezing right through Andy as if she weren't there. "I don't see anyone doing anything out of the ordinary." A twitch of his lips, and a sideways peek of blue-grey eyes in her direction. "Though if I did, I'd consider offering them a very large sum of marks to need to discuss something very urgently with me."

Andy doesn't exactly squeak, but something high-pitched starts and dies just as quickly in her throat while she's briefly wide-eyed in the wake of something that maybe filters through to her from that elsewhere shift in draconic focus. "Actually, " says the tall baker out of the corner of her mouth in a way that falls short of being the suave sort of discreet she's probably trying for, "I do have a message for you if they don't kick me out of the workshop first." What follows is some convoluted, cobblestone series of statements that almost sounds like a game of telephone gone horribly wrong involving the names of all three of the weyrleader's assistants, two of the weyr's aunties, and one of the craftriders, not necessarily in that order. " … so I waited by your office, but then it occurred to me that you probably weren't there or they'd have already found you. And then I saw who I thought might be Xermiltoth up there and hoped it meant you were, you know, here." Whatever the actual message once was, the story that gets told probably doesn't sound like it has much to do with it, at this point, and the moment when the teenager realizes this in full crashes over her face right about — now. "Maybe I should have asked, " and she names one of the assistants again, "to write it down." Oops.

R'hyn, unrepentant; Xermiltoth, even more so. The bronzerider fights a smile as his dragon - clearly watching the livestream of this moment through his rider's eyes - sends a wash of gold-touched laughter down from his pose high above. It's quiet, considering the overloud, overfriendly source. The big bronze beast more than intelligent enough to know his usual diamond fireworks will draw more attention than the situation warrants, but it's there until R'hyn mutters, "Knock it off," under his breath. The utterance is more for Andalise's sake than any real need to verbalize it, golden motes of draconic awareness fluttering away like so many fireflies with the whisking of the bronzerider's hand before R'hyn turns his attention back onto Andy, at first politely, then with hope and actual interest, interest that fades into vaguely concerned confusion as the story starts to resemble more of a game of chutes and ladders than a roadmap towards his salvation. "Wait, so they need someone to get the Wingsecond's mustard from the lead pipe in the library?" Okay, maybe it's a game of Clue instead. Insert assistant's name here, "quit last week, though. Maybe it was Maeri? They do look alike, in a 'squint your eyes clear shut and turn off the lights' kind of way, but I thought she was allergic to…" Ah. Andy's expression crumples and R'hyn's lights with dawning realization in its wake, teeth baring in a swift grin as his head shakes. "No need. This is perfect, actually. Sorry, gents, but urgent message from the offices, big problem you see. Craftmaster, I'll send someone to escort you through the rest of your tour, no, no I insist, I know just the woman, Risali loves clocks," famous last words, those, but R'hyn seems to be pulling his words straight from somewhere unmentionable at the moment, not even stopping when the crafter he wasn't talking over locks eyes on Andalise with a bug-eyed, "You!" Oops. The jig is up. He might be pushing forty-three, but the look the bronzerider fixes on Andy is electric, brows jolting up, thumb jerking sideways as he asks, "Is this the part where we run?" Because propriety, who needs it?

"I thought they looked alike, " Andalise sighs, which can most probably be attributed to a case of mistaken identity rather than high myopia given her conspicuous lack of any sort of eyeglasses. As his expression brightens, so too does hers; the mangled delivery is salvageable! Or would be, save for the attention she draws from the apoplectic crafter across the way. "Mission accomplished, time to go, " she agrees with a series of rapid nods and books it for the stairs amid a chorus of asynchronized, "No running in the workshop!"s peppering the air in her wake. It's too bad her progress slows once she's actually on the steps, gingerly dropping one foot in front of the other with a white-knuckled grip on the railing as quickly as she dares without potentially risking another infirmary trip at the end of this adventure.

"Like I said, if you squint and…" Smash your fingers in front of your eyeballs. "Close enough, really." It's a jovial attempt at reassurance, R'hyn's whole attitude turned on its axis now that freedom is in his grasp. The weyrleader's laughter chases after Andy's fleeing form, the bronzer hop-skipping backwards just enough paces to offer the now-sputtering pair a quick salute before he catches up with the baker on the stairs, "Sorry, sorry, sorry," meeting every one of those chastisements as he goes. Or you know, doesn't, given the sudden skrrt of his boots on the wood of the stairs as he halts fast to keep from bowling right into Andy. Displeased commotion sounds far too closely behind them for comfort, the poor white-knuckled young woman earning a, "I'm sorry," of her own as R'hyn, who was clearly raised by wolves, drops one shoulder and hooks it up under Andy's armpit. Upsy-daisy. "Normally," puffed because she might be slender, but she's still an entire human that he's suddenly carrying against one hip at a pace to clear those last few stairs, "I'd spare you the indignity, but." Heave, ho, and away they go, R'hyn only dropping her to the ground once he's safely shoved through the door into the outer world, if she hasn't freed herself before then. THOOM. « That was a terrible idea, » accompanies Xermiltoth's hard landing from above, wings having only barely snapped wide before all four paws make shuddering contact quite near them. « Naturally, I approve. » Though hardly the dragon's usual trumpet blast, Andalise will be lucky if she misses his dazzling applause for an escape effectively executed. « And who is your brave heroine? » This as the dragon lowers his chin almost to the ground, moving slowly towards the crafter, giving her time to adjust to his increasing proximity.

Andalise really does try to move faster as R'hyn gains on her, ending up all but yelling in surprise once she's hoisted up and side-along carried the rest of the way down the stairs. Somewhere during their daring escape, her usual braid has started to unravel, leaving the ends a wavy mess to go with the pieces falling about her face. "No, it's fine, I need to try to go a full sevenday without seeing the healers, " she gasps once she's free again, tilting a wide-eyed look up and up at the bronze whose name probably featured in certain childhood classes. It's hardly her first time interacting with a dragon, but she still has to clear her throat before she can greet him with a mustered-cheery, "Hi there." The weyrbred baker stands her ground while Xermiltoth fills more and more of her visual field, even if there's a small side-eye for his rider. "I'm Andy. Well, it's Andalise, but everyone calls me Andy." Sotto voce to R'hyn, "He's really pretty up close, isn't he?" (And enormous.)

Okay, so that apology isn't the last R'hyn offers along the way - there are at least three or four more peppered in between one step and the next - but they're definitely more for the manner of hustling poor Andalise along than actually being sorry. It shows in the way his attention is focused more on the door he's flattened himself next to than the girl Xermiltoth is all but nosebooping, fingers levering into the crack he's held open so he can peek in sideways to make sure they weren't followed. "Nice," wooshes out on the breath he takes a moment to catch now that their escape is confirmed, blue-grey eyes finally catching on Andy as he pushes the clocktower shut. "Full sevenday?" He remembered that comment despite his haste, brows lofting high as his eyes peruse her from crown to toe, as if seeking past injuries, or perhaps putting two and two together on that slow descent. « Ah, Andalise. » Oh boy. There's an awful lot of recognition in his tone. « It's a pleasure to meet you. » There's a 'finally' tucked in there somewhere, unspoken but perhaps implied in absentia of further words. The blackened bronze's head halts a body's length away, pausing there for a very long moment before slowly, slooowly, whirling eyes and parting maw turn in R'hyn's direction. « Did you hear that, mine? She thinks I'm pretty. » "Ugh," is the bronzerider's only contribution to the subject, both hands lifting to push Xermiltoth's smug visage out of their way. "Any-ways," he drawls, drawing the single word into two before rummaging in his pockets, movements overexaggerated to show he is purposefully changing the subject before his dragon's head swells beyond recognition. "I did promise you marks for getting me out of there, didn't I? Should we make it ten for the escape? Plus two for shipping and handling." Eyes lift from his performative pocket spelunking, wincing for the disarray of her increasingly unbraided hair. "Maybe make that three…"

"Nice to meet you, too, " replies Andy to the huge, bronze nose before her while tucking her hands behind her back just ignore the one that has a mostly healed cut, grinning unabashedly as enough of the dragon's reaction reaches her to keep up with the conversation (even if it's possible that all of the words do not). Her mouth opens with an expression that broadcasts imminent protest as R'hyn really does start mentioning a not inconsiderate number of marks, whether in earnest or not. "I don't — that's really not necessary, " she proceeds to object, unable to resist turning enough to look wistfully up at Xermiltoth again. "The marks, I mean, " she's quick to clarify, once brown eyes return to meet his blue. There's a little fidget where her weight shifts from one foot to the other, teeth sinking nervously into her lower lip before she blurts with a flush, "But I'd really like to be allowed to stand this time since no one's ever asked me before and that worked out just fine because it's not like I would have been brave enough to say yes but I've been thinking about it and I would like to try and that's worth way more than thirteen marks." It tumbles out in practically one breath, ending in a puffy exhale. The hands clasped behind her back might be trembling a little, even as she mutters audibly, "That sure sounded better in my head."

R'hyn is briefly taken aback. His head lifts where he stands, hand in pocket, shoulders hunched, just looking at Andalise as though she's grown a second head or declared herself Queen of the Weyr… And then he laughs. It isn't rude or derisive - it's far too short, just a few breathy clips as his head shakes and his posture straightens, one hand going to his hip while the other pushes back through his hair. "You know… I've been at this a while." Dragonriding? Playing clutchfather? He doesn't clarify. "And not once has someone had the guts to actually ask us to stand - for any clutch, nevertheless one of our own." It's not a no, but it's not a yes, either. The bronzerider's smile fades into something more contemplative, lips pressing together as his gaze swings towards his bronze, who picks up on their former conversation as if that blurt never happened at all. « Is it nice to meet me? » Xermiltoth's head withdraws just enough that its tilt is notable beyond just his snout, the whirling spin of his eyes slowing in consideration before kicking up again. « That is not often the case, though I seldom meet others whose reputation precedes them like mine does. » As if in demonstration, there comes the hammering thrum of a symphony's first notes, a gold so bold and bright it might as well be sunlight, given the heat it throws off, vying for dominance with summer's hot billow. One might term it a warning, a subtle implication of just what she could be getting herself into, if there wasn't so much curiosity and glee tucked in the wings of his obvious self-confidence. His mind wanes before guttering out completely, introductory threads of violin singing itself back to sleep as gold-crackled claws flex into the dirt surrounding the clocktower base. Whatever that hot-hot spotlight was seeking, it must have been found, because the next words out of R'hyn's mouth are, "We accept." And, unless one suspected this was going somewhere even remotely serious, « No take-backsies. »

Andalise looks so earnestly hopeful while her knees metaphorically knock, knock, her high-pitched, "Yes?" likely a questioning answer to both dragon and rider simultaneously. Doe-bright eyes swing from one to the other, not quite following everything but clearly grasping that there's some conferring assessment between the two regarding her unusual request. For a moment, she blinks from too-bright and almost rocks onto her heels and forward again in time with those beats of beginning. "You accept, " the baker repeats wonderingly before a beam dawns beautifully over her face, eagerness personified. "Thank you thank you thank you!" She might be a split second away from giving a little hop of joy. "I'll do my best, I promise." She can be happily solemn enough for all three of them for a moment.

Xermiltoth is pleased. It might not radiate from the dragon's mind this time, but every bit of the big bronze beast relaxes, wings swooping out onto the ground, sweeping inwards hard enough to jostle his rider in closer, closer as he flops on his side, tail curling in to complete the circle around bronzerider and former baker. R'hyn doesn't protest, for once, too busy eyeing Andalise with clear appreciation for her toleration of Xermiltoth's exuberance. "No need," he assures her for thanks and that promise both. "It's very much our pleasure." And he means it, lower lids scrunching with a smile as Xermiltoth rumbles his agreement aloud. Alas, the moment is brief, as with another fluff of his hair he says, "You'll have to forgive me, though - it's been turns since we've had a candidate, so I don't carry knots anymore. I have a few in the offices, though, if you don't mind tagging along." Not to break up the party but, "I won't keep you long after that. I should probably solve the mustard mystery sooner than later." You know, just in case there were convicts instead of condiments!

"I don't mind, " assures Xermiltoth's new candidate brightly, and as Andy has already helped enough with the creation of the mustard mystery, she withholds any further effusive emoting either on their walk over or their arrival at his office other than a more demure murmur of thanks once that knot changes hands. It's only when she's quite out of sight of people with knots fancier than her own that she gives a triumphant pump of both fists and takes off for the barracks, flushed with success.

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