Mixing Miscreants

Xanadu Weyr - Caverns
A massive cavern in its own right, this one has been skillfully adapted for human habitation. The high ceilings have been painted a light, soft ivory, as have walls hung with numerous tapestries that 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. The stone is carefully leveled 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 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. It's plain that on most days, this area wouldn't accommodate anywhere near the full population of the Weyr, instead feeding people in shifts as they come off duty. On occasions when a formal meal is laid out, tables are borrowed from all the other areas.

There's also a big fireplace set into the western wall, 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, the largest an archway to the northeast that leads outside. Near it there's an alcove with hooks for coats and shelves for muddy boots. A tunnel to the east goes to the infirmary, and a set of stairs just a little south of that lead up to the offices and administration area. To the south, a long and sloping tunnel leads down to the hot springs. The kitchen is off to the southwest, while the residents' quarters are reached by tunnels going west, deeper into the cliff.

Leirith's Terrible Ideas: Week 1

You know that awkward getting to know each other phase? YEAH, WE DO TOO. THAT'S WHY WE DON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS. Err, we mean, that's why Leirith had the BEST (read: WORST) IDEA: THROW A DANCE! HERE'S TO OUR INCOMING CANDIDATE CLASS OF 2733 OR WHEN-THE-HECK-EVER BABIES DECIDE TO SHOW FACE. YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED TO SHOW YOUR FACE AND DRESS YOUR BEST (or worst, we're not picky). The caverns have been temporarily converted into a dance hall, where drink and food line the walls and every table and party favors make the room look like a tiny birthday party exploded ALL OVER THE PLACE. There's dim glows and pointed hats and masks with RIDICULOUS RENDERINGS of Leirith and Xemiltoth's faces and chain-link paper monstrocities hung without much rhyme and zero reason (like a bunch of six-turn-olds were tasked with it OR JUST DRAGONS WITH NO THUMBS) to create a space where everybody can mix, mingle, and maybe even have a littttttttlllleeeeee tiny bit to drink. BUT NOT TOO MUCH. ONLY JUST ENOUGH.

WHO CAN SAY if the no-thumbs-dragons-or-six-turn-olds who decorated the TRADE YOUR GET-TO-KNOW-YOU AWKWARDNESS for UPGRADED COORDINATED MOVEMENT ANXIETY event were the ones to ask the Weyr's assorted Harpers to take turns this evening or that to provide some actual dance music beyond the clinking of cups, plates, and the snazzy playing of some wooden spoons. The point is that SOMEONE asked them, or at least, someone must have asked Tej as the harper-turned-candidate doesn't seem the type to volunteer her energy to ensure other people's idiocy fun is maximized. She's here, anyway, with her drum, drumming along with a pair of other players with more melodic instruments, but when the next break is called for the players, she's quick to slide off into the shadows and surrender her drum to a crafter-rider with enough experience to take over for the next handful of sets.

In the meantime, it seems that the nearly thirty turn old has a date with a piece of charcoal and one of those sets of Leirith and Xermiltoth faces that are woefully missing their FANCY MUSTACHES and STATELY MONOCLES. How such an oversight occured is beyond imagining, but NEVER FEAR, our sweet Xanadoans (dragon and human alike), Tej has gotten pointers from one of the scariest best green artists in the Weyr~ And she's had the whole acting casual as though she really had been assigned this very task and is simply carrying out someone else's orders the best a SIMPLE HARPER can since she was too young to know just how much trouble she could find by practicing the skill. BEST OF LUCK, KYRIEL. Hopefully you'll come out of this scene without a mustache and monocle of your own~~

Could that be a bonus, then, of having no Crafter background at parties? No twisting his arm into volunteering! Which means he could be volun-TOLD to help out in other ways and maybe Kyriel was lucky enough to escape that fate (THIS time)~ He hardly bats an eye at the no-thumbs-dragons-or-six-turn-old (his bets are firmly on a little of both) decorated space OR that this party-event came into being; others may be running a gamut of reactions or feelings towards being involved invited, but he tackles it like it’s just another day or just any party. In fact, he’s trying hard not to smirk like an idiot and failing miserably.

Does he want to be here, right now? Not exactly Yes and no. There’s no skill he possesses, nothing to really offer, that’ll lead to escape distraction. The best he can do is actually mingle, which Kyriel doesn’t mind; he’s generally a social type to begin with! And yet?

And yet, there is a distinct lack of complete relaxation as he navigates these currents, having yet to find his stride. Kyriel’s toeing a line between comfortable familiarity and awkwardness, while trying to enjoy himself but also figure out where he might ‘fit’ (and not realizing that is not a necessary obligation). He’s now extricating himself from one group he approached; definitely a little proverbial oil and water in action — his too easily read expression gives it all away, as he flees steps away. Somewhere along the way, he ends up with a drink in hand, untouched and absentmindedly carried.

A certain scary green artist would be very proud of Tej’s additions to the masks. Unfortunately for her Tej will soon have a live critic, with Kyriel intruding upon that sideline spot when he drifts close enough to glimpse the creative edits. Ice blue eyes lift from the masks to the ‘artist’, smirk now becoming more of a tentative smile. “Nice,” he remarks, half scoffed but clearly approving of the designs. CLASSIC~ “You could add eyebrows, too?” he suggests, fully assuming it is desired, wanted or necessary; or that it already hasn’t been done. KYRIEL WILL TAKE THAT LUCK, kthnx

He wants eyebrows, does he? Well, he may not get them added in charcoal, but a single red brow arches imperiously as Tej turns her head to look at the youth. For some, this would be the sort of look to prompt a gulp and some pearl clutching maybe, but she's leaving herself room to work up to that, the sort that says, without the need for words, And just who are you to dare? Kihatsuth can be proud twice over~

"Afraid your skills won't measure up to their majesty?" She quips even as she flips the nub of charcoal she was working with in his direction - aimed expertly to land squarely in his drink if he's not quick. At least by the time she's asking her second brow has joined the first to make the challenge clear: CAN YOU DO BETTER THAN A SIX TURN OLD AND/OR A DRAGON WITHOUT THUMBS, KYRIEL?

The way she turns back to the Leirith she's making more badass without waiting for a response speaks of how little she cares whether he proves himself the least badass of all candidates by ducking her dare. Her fingers have to dig into a pocket, shifting a little pouch therein enough to tug out another piece of charcoal. (It must be said here that Tej is not trying to give those original artists a run for their marks; she's settling for simple shape attached to simple shape. But can she really make the decorations worse?)

Who is he to dare? Kyriel wouldn’t have an answer (or he’d have several, none with the confidence to back up the claims), but his reaction to Tejra is to minutely lean back in subtle movement. Maybe he comes close to gulping, but he does not balk. Just a temporary half-stumble, that has him narrowing his eyes just a little and lifting his chin up – eventually. Poor kid. Kihatsuth is definitely proud twice over, maybe thrice

“Not re—“ That charcoal hits its mark! Plunking into the drink he showed no interest in, it still earns a disgruntled sound, abruptly cutting off his reply. He struggles not to flat out roll his eyes, as he fishes the offending piece out — for a dangerous second, the look he slants her speaks of temptation. No… No he wouldn’t dare, would he? It remains held between fingers, indecisive as his focus shifts more to just who Tejra is (and what’s her deal!?).

CAN HE DO BETTER? “Not really.” He repeats, mouth slanting into a half smile that in no way meets his eyes. “I’ve more practice on actual faces, not masks. Learned from some of the best.” Kyriel does not boast, the remark delivered more as a dry fact, as he sets his drink down and uses that hand to grab the nearest mask. Will he poach from Tejra? He might be petty foolish enough. Just as he’s foolish enough to keep that now drink-sodden charcoal still pinched between fingers in a manner that leans towards potential threat.

The kind of smile that briefly occupies Tej's lips is every bit the cat that ate the canary when the nub lands in the younger man's glass. If the look lingers once she's turned back to her art improvement project, at least Kyriel doesn't have to see it. Of course, the redhead is also deprived of the sense of foreboding that the tempted look on that younger SO much younger~ face with the sodden charcoal in hand might inspire, were she witness. But then, she's asked for it, hasn't she? Not that this strange notion of 'fair's fair' would save Kyriel even one headache should he choose to make some poor life choices based on the aforementioned weird idea. BUT LISTEN, we're not here to judge him. Or maybe only a little. The point is—

The older candidate's pale gaze skids over to the hands possibly appropriating her mask, though she doesn't, in the end, growl at him to find his own. Instead, she's fishing in that little pouch within her pocket to proffer a fresh piece to the scapegoat younger candidate. "Sounds like it would be a transferable skill if you try hard enough. After all, you don't have to worry about this mask waking up." She slants a glance toward Kyriel - checking, did she read into that correctly? Likely, Tejra won't be heartbroken if it turns out she's missed the mark. She seems, in fact, to care more about getting the curl on the mustache juuuuust right than the outcome of her verbal fishing expedition.

Is there ever an age limit on making poor choices? Kyriel has likely not experienced any too serious to note, given his so young age. He considers himself decently mature, or at the very least, old (HA) enough to be making Big Decisions — which apparently include considering the less-than-mature, more childish, one of retaliation. Not today, though! Today, he’ll (unknowingly) spare himself a headache and the drenched charcoal is set aside in favor of the fresh replacement offered by Tejra. No peace offering, perhaps more truce, however temporary it might last. He meets her gaze briefly during the equally brief exchange, with less wariness and more neutrality. Sliding the mask closer, he’ll begin his far-less skilled but passable doodling upon the mask; unsurprisingly, he begins with his suggestion of eyebrows. He huffs in amusement, “I dunno. It’s one of her parties, isn’t it? I wouldn’t be surprised if one did.” ‘Her’ referencing Leirith, of course and Tejra has, in fact, guessed correctly! Because Kyriel goes on to add, without shame: “This definitely doesn’t have the same risky vibe to it.” Yet here he is, continuing on and lingering whether Tejra is desiring the continued company as it were.

"Well, if any white-knotted fool would know," one such white knotted fool begins with the wry tone of a woman too well aware of her circumstances and just what it says about her, "you would." Implicit in the words are, of course, the knowledge that even if Tejra is an unknown quantity here, Kyriel is not. Well, not fully, anyway. It's not really something a barracks and/or Weyr celebrity shouldn't expect by even this very young yet walk of life, is it? The result is, however, that the redhead takes his opinion as valid and doesn't question the concerning reality wherein these particular masks might come to life. Obviously, Xanadu is where she belongs~ "I can help with that." These words are the sort that ought to strike FEAAAARRRRR into the hearts of anyone not young and naive - see the pointy edges to the smile flashed Kyriel's way. Leaning toward him in a way that suggests conspiracy, the Harper (the dancer) murmurs the threat bound to up the ante to get some of that real risk adrenaline going. "If we're caught, we're simply going to have to dance together to throw suspicion off." Not that anyone actually cares (so far) about their egregious degradation of the masks made by dragons with no thumbs and/or six turn olds (and that's saying a lot), but the way Tej narrows her eyes at Kyriel ever so slightly at least implies he wouldn't want it to come to that, if he could avoid it and had any sense, any at all.

“And how’s that?” How would he know, Tejra? Kyriel is curious again but in the uncertain kind of way. She is an unknown to him; having seen her prior does not quite count, even for him! As for his own potentially quasi-celebrity status? If folks know, they know. If they don’t, Kyriel doesn’t exactly inform them unless it just so happens to come about (and even then…) — and it’ll start circulating, regardless if he wants that or not. He’ll miss the pointed edges to the smile, too caught up in the seemingly benign offer to help that turns rapidly conspiratorial. “Oh, you have an idea?” Flashing a questioning sidelong look her way, Kyriel mulls it over — or rather does a poor attempt at pretending he didn’t just wholly agree already. Consequences? What consequences? He’ll narrow his gaze right back at her, but the effect only enhances his bewilderment in the moment; this kid has yet to learn NOT to be an open book. “… that doesn’t sound so bad.” Says he, with not-so solid confidence while trying (and failing) to act cool and collected.

The number of non-nosy Harpers in the world could probably be counted on just one's fingers and toes, if not just one of those sets of digits. The rules of probability dictate that the one standing here quietly accusing Kyriel of being in the know (at least when it comes to life experiences with Leirith and the potential for masks to leap off the wall to dance along with them~~) falls into the majority; is it any wonder that she's listened? "If you can't sort that out yourself, Vanilla, I'm not about to taint your flavor." Tej's quip is an idle return, the smile sneaking onto her lips a beat or two after the delivery is complete. It's gone in a blink though because that ignorance bravado comment from Kyriel about it not seeming so bad to end up dancing with Tejra r e q u i r e s the older woman to turn and face him, leaning against the far edge of the mask, pinning it in place to free him up for his all-important eye-brow shaping work. "'That doesn't sound so bad'? How old are you? Fifteen? Trust me, child, there are few worse fates." The beat of silence is accompanied by a singular slooOOOoow blink and an expression that she might have borrowed from Ila'den for all its impassivity before she adds the all-important. "For me." Gauntlet. Thrown.

And it’s likely that Kyriel’s encounters thus far with unknown Harper’s can still be counted on one hand! He’s sheltered young and has been focusing his social time among other circles (and the Harper for lessons doesn’t count). Out of this entire exchange, thus far, his biggest take away in the moment is the nickname she saddles him with. “Vanilla!” he scoffs, narrowing his eyes at her again with a slanted smirk that is trying to brush off as amused but it’s obvious he’s not thrilled. “What’s with the nickname?” Thanks, he doesn’t want it! But is scraping some manners together not to say that part out loud. Now that he’s freed from his all-important work with the masks, Kyriel stands his ground when Tejra faces him. He might even lift his chin up, whether foolish or false bravado, or just a knee-jerk reaction. Gauntlet thrown! “Seventeen,” he corrects before he can stop himself, scoffing in an attempt to veer from the blunder and near interjection. Is he way out of his element here? Yes, very. He glares at being called a child, color rising but he brushes that aside in favor of: “You’re the one who suggested dancing as a getaway! If I’m that insufferable, why even suggest it?” It’s meant to be rhetorical, but Kyriel’s tone slips and suggests otherwise, whether or not he’s ready to hear it; truly, he’s probably missed the mark here.

The puzzled look that a more experienced recipient might recognize as cultivated to near perfection that is leveled in response to Kyriel's question of nickname seems unlikely to help him become thrilled over his newest moniker. One hand goes to Tej's hip as it cocks out slightly, even as her head tips the other way. "Why are you asking me? You're the one who announced it to the barracks." The way Tej holds that look on him shifts just enough to silently query, 'Shouldn't a very grown up person remember such things?' (Okayokayokay, it's unlikely she imagines that an exact translation will get through, but perhaps just a 'Remember?' will manage to make it to him.) At least she's not reaching out to pat his head or anything~ Tej keeps her hands to herself as she turns her back to the wall, spiriting her piece of charcoal away as she looks out at the partygoers in the midst of the dance and ice-breaking chit-chat this robust event was meant to inspire… and is notably not exactly what she's doing with poor Kyriel. There is ice (or fire, but who's counting - this is Xanadu; fire belongs here!) just the kind that seems to be building rather than breaking. "I never said you were insufferable." It's so mild a response that it might be designed to cut the wind right out of his sails before he can get too far into that sea of burgeoning vexation. "Just that dancing with you would be. Unless you're telling me one of your transferable skill sets includes keeping your feet where they ought to be?" Presumably, this is somewhere that does not include on Tej's toes. Perhaps the younger candidate will catch on, given that the finger touching her chin and slight purse of lips as if the thought were occuring to her even as she speaks those words~ The air of innocence is a little overdone, to give him a fighting chance~

“Funny,” Kyriel doesn’t exactly chuckle, but there’s a curl of his lip at one corner. “I don’t remember announcing it.” If she had pat his head, things would have gone south fast(er) and perhaps seen a cleaner end (if not terribly mature storming off on his side). He could very well not remember or is not making the connection; again, he is drowning treading depths beyond him but is too stubborn to admit it. He dislikes feeling like he should (could?) be two steps ahead but is mired four and countless more behind. Clever and witty, he is not! Her mild response does have the effect of lessening the proverbial raised hackles in Kyriel — it also confuses him, as shown in the way he glares fixes her with a long stare and a slight tilt of his head. The party goers around them are largely ignored, as he shifts to face her at an angle. His arms, once at his sides, now cross loosely over his chest. “Would it be hard to believe that I can dance? I just don’t care to brag about it,” he remarks, with only a hint of something beneath his feigned-calmed tone. Her air of innocence may be a little overdone, but Kyriel isn’t playing up his lack of catching-on. It’s there, hovering on the edges of his thoughts that he’s missing a point; it’ll either continue to elude him or it’ll be striking later, and at a time that’ll likely NOT help him. Again, he could throw in the towel now at this point, admit defeat and wander off. She could easily see the moment he considers it, in the way his gaze shifts away, the change in his expression — but he doesn’t. Kyriel chooses to be a fool bold (or his idea of it), straightening but not to walk away; his arms lower, with one lifting in a mild-sweep of gesture towards those already dancing. Lead on~ what could possibly go wrong in all this?

Don't worry, Kyriel, Tej will make it easy on you~ "Oh, sure," is actually agreement with her earlier statement that the younger man announced his nickname to the barracks at large, not his own assertion. "Nothing special, you said." Does he get it yet? Tej's tone has just a hint of challenge in it, as though quoting him to himself should prompt him to examine whether or not he really meant to brand himself the most generic of flavors. "Just regular weyrfolk," she further parrots, all bland 'don't kill the messenger' now. "As such, you can't blame a person for doubting the presence of skill. After all, if the brows are anything to go by…" This, at least, comes with an exaggerated expression of teasing criticism. He couldn't be blamed for seeing this downright comradely play making utterly perplexing all the other criticisms (veiled or otherwise). But then, flummoxed is how Tej prefers her vic- er, conversation partners more often than not~ "But, you know, they say that actions speak louder than words." And a picture's worth a thousand words~~ (Just what is that IMPROVED mask saying now~?) "Come on, then. There's still time to change your narrative before you end up believing what you say of yourself, Vanilla." She latches onto the wrist of the sweeping arm to tug him toward the dance. None would blame him for pulling out even at this late moment~ (None except Tej, of course. She probably would say the dance to come is part of a binding verbal agreement to be broken only at the other party's peril~ But she is a strange one.)

Ah, and there it is! Dawning clarity, as Tejra spells it out makes it easier for him to thread the missing pieces. Kyriel’s reaction is, perhaps, predictable in the end; he’ll blush under the parroting as it all becomes so clear and from the way his jaw tenses, he wants to just deny it all, to heatedly explain (without getting to the actual POINT). Snap back with some sharp quip … but he doesn’t have that in him (yet). So he settles for a twisted grimace and a disgruntled scoff. OKAY, FINE! He walked straight into that and continued sinking and is now just going to sulk about it a little. Now it just remains to be seen how he learns, if at all. “Alright, okay! You made your point,” he grumbles, only half-hearted; if he was truly upset then he wouldn’t follow her when she latches on to his wrist and tugs him towards the dance. It’s enough of a distraction to keep him from reactively commenting on her last remark on changing narratives and what be believes of himself; she struck close to a nerve that even he’s not quite fully understanding beyond the barest levels. Instead, he turns his focus on what is important in that moment; if fate has any mercy, the music will keep a decent tempo. Kyriel wasn’t bluffing, he can dance! Vanilla here too, at times, and perhaps from lack of greater experience or exposure. His grasp of the more structured ones are shaky, but Tejra’s feet will be spared. He does better if the opportunity arises for whatever passes as ‘freestyle’.

Tejra truly has few saving graces. Even fewer that she's able to extend to others. Fortunately for them both, dancing leads the list. One doesn't specialize in dance without a little talent and a wealth of hard-won skill. For all her many, many, many, many faults, here the harper uses her significant skill to bolster her partner (after trying to shake his confidence in oh-so-many-ways, too~~), to make Kyriel look like he was born to dance~~ in as much as she as his partner has any say over the matter. She does prove, at least a little, that she can follow someone else's lead… at least until he leads somewhere/someway she doesn't wish to go, but even then, that she's nudging him a different way is something through practiced skills of subtlety no one else in the world need know. If she pushes him to step outside that Vanilla box he's placed around himself, then she does it judiciously, just enough and at the right moments to give him the 'wins' he needs to inspire a willingness to risk a little more, even with so untrustworthy a partner as she was right up until the language of their exchange became dance. Doubtless, Tej could talk, instead, she immerses in movement, infects with her delight in it, and if nothing else, by the end of the song, Kyriel will know what a real smile looks like on the oldest candidate. Maybe once he works out whether he wants to present her with a more challenging target, he can use that much understanding to his advantage. For now, there's just the dance, the grin cast over her shoulder as she accepts the arm of a new partner for the next dance, someone as far older than she as she was older than Kyriel, and the slotting of a new mask in place as she turns her attention to the next wayward soul crossing her path.

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