Xanadu Weyr - Garden
An arch woven from the tendrils of a willow tree stretches overhead lightly creeping with ivy as one steps in from the meadow into this sanctuary of green. Cool gray flagstone carefully spaced enables a soft velvety moss to thrive within the cracks, and creates a single wide pathway that fluidly breaks off into two paths of stone once free of the natural arbor. It is a wonder this place, and meticulously tended from the way it seems not a single leaf is out of place.
On either side of the main path expansive grassy patches are trimmed short and edged behind with natural tan colored stone selectively chosen to stack just right. Beyond these are a line of fine puffed shrubberies in vibrant green intermingled with flowering bushes of brilliant pinks varying in hue from the very light to the very dark, which causes the occasional snowy white blossoms of other scattered here and there without worry to simply pop out of the scenery.
Directly in the center of the garden is another wall of intricately stacked stone, this of muted grays, creating what from the air would prove to be a perfect circle. It's been set high for safety, but not so much as one would not be able to lean over it to admire what lies beyond, either standing or sitting at the smattering of benches whose backs are set every four feet along it. Flush to the ground inside it's protective stone outcropping, is an enormous twenty foot wide fish pond. Within one can glean the metallic glint of playful goldfish, the unhurried cruise of fat koi, and even a frog or three among pale yellow and white flowering water lilies and their thick green pads.
The trees surrounding the entire garden were planted to give the impression that they had always been here, not only lending to a rustic look, but also alluding to the beauty that can be found among the wilds if only one might just look for it. Species vary from the ordinary Birch and Pine, but the flaming red capsules of the Indian Shot to the robust orange spokes of the Firewheel tree suggest the spice of the exotic.
While the weather isn't exactly the best within the weyr, there are still some that take advantage of the more quiet areas to ponder whatever they wish to ponder. Having chosen to escape one thing or another, Zhianna roams slowly around the edges of the garden stopping now and again to stare at this bush or that plant before moving on. At one point she veers towards the center of the glade, pausing at the edge of the pond where her eyes stare downward at the glossy water, softly coated with a thin layer of ice even now.
Bad weather or not, some candidates have been assigned to work in the gardens, and Quillan is amongst that lucky handful. He's wheeling about a barrow, empty apart from a spade and a pair of gloves, when he comes across Zhianna, and he pauses to watch her for a few moments before moving in. "Hello." His accent is Igenite, as is his tanned, freckled skin. "Do you often stare at ice? Perhaps you're from the desert, too?"
Zhianna looks up, her expression blank for a moment as she takes in the candidate before offering a smile, "No…I don't…and I'm not." she manages to get out before stepping back from the edge. "I was actually just trying to figure out what happens to all the fish when the water freezes like it has been." she adds before turning to face him. "I'm Zhianna or Zia because I know that full name my parents gave me is a mouthfull."
"I imagine they just hide beneath it, or they freeze into it." Quillan sets the barrow down, and steps to the edge of the icy water to look down into it. "Can you see any swimming? Maybe they're dead." He pokes at the ice with the toe of his boot, then shrugs. "Zhi-an-na is only three syllables; is that a mouthful around here? I'm Quill. I suppose one syllable's easy-peasy-pie, if you think three's too many."
Zhianna says, "I guess I've spent to much time with the littles, where my name comes out in so many ways that I've just started telling my name is Zia so it doesn't get so…twisted about." Looking back to the pond the girl stares downward for a few, chewing on her lower lip as she seems to look for those flashes of color "Perhaps they sleep in the gunk at the bottom of the pool?"
"That's cos littles are dumb." Clearly no love lost over the Weyr's youngest residents. Quillan leans forward, then bends down to rap sharply at the ice with his knuckles. "What do you think fish dream about, if they're down there sleeping in the muck? Maybe silty-stuff makes a good bed - it's kinda soft and squishy, right? Not that I'd trade mine for gunk, but maybe it's fine if you're a fish."
Zhianna laughs softly, "Yes they certainly are, messy and smelly too." As Quill raps on the ice, she crouches down to look at the pool more deeply. "Maybe they dream about bugs? Or people throwing them fish food?" she offers with a shrug. "My bed isn't so bad, it's much better then those cots in the areas for the young ones." she notes as she stands, "Though I swear people snore loud enough you can hear then through doors and pillows."
Quillan nods in agreement with that last bit. "Yeah, it makes me miss being able to sleep in mum's weyr. She doesn't snore, but the dorms are full of it." He rolls his eyes, then turns around to grab the spade out of the barrow. "You want me to crack open the ice, see if we can find fish down there? Maybe you can warm them up or something. Build them a little underwater radiator to make sure they're snug as, uh… fingerlings in rugs?"
Zhianna actually seems to ponder his offer but she shakes her head, "No, let them sleep. I don't have anything to carry them in and I don't think the cook and such would think kindly of me taking off their buckets or pitchers to warm up and keep the fish in." Though her expression really says that she'd love to do just what she said.
Quillan gives the barrow a tap with the spade's blade. "You've got this here? I mean, it's not going to hold every fish, but if should be ok to put a couple in, right? Until you find something better. Like a tank, or something. Have you ever seen one of those hufe fishtanks, with all the pretty Paradise reef fish in them?"
Zhianna crouches again at the side of the pond, "Lemme find something better first and then we could?" she offers, really taking this idea in fully. "You know they have these vase things in the stores for when they have big celebrations…" she trails off as she stares at the water "We could put a few stones in the bottom of each and cover the tops somehow to keep hungry flizzen out of them."
"I don't know about any vases, but I'll take your word for it. You want to run and get them now?" Quillan digs the tip of the spade into the ground, so he can lean on its handle. "I'll wait, if you want. Or I'll smash the ice while you go. But how're you going to catch them? If they're in the muck, then won't a net just bring up a whole buncha crap and maybe-fish?"
Zhianna shakes her head, "I'll go sneak them out first then I'll find out and we can get them out." she offers. "Maybe later in the evening that way we can put them in the Living Caverns on tables and stuff…for decorations." Her face blooms with excitement. "We need some brightness at meals besides flizzen on shoulders or perches."
Quillan's nose wrinkles. "Are you sure they're going to be pretty fish? Most pond fish I've known are just boring and brown." He crouches down, running a hand over the ice to try and clear it enough to see through. While he's wiping his cold hand on his trousers to warm it up, he says, "Maybe you'd be better just putting flowers or something in vases, if you want to make things pretty. Honestly though, I don't mind firelizards to look at. At least they're entertaining? Fish don't do much…"
Zhianna chuckles softly "These ones in here are goldish orange, some are even reddish." she points out. "Not your regular fish you eat or anything." is added as she stands and stretches. "I don't mind looking at the flizzen either, you see all types of colors on them but having something else to stare at would be nice too."
"Yeah, but everyone likes flowers. My mum loves them. And they don't need feeding, either." Quillan shrugs, resting his chin on his hand on the handle of the spade. "And they tend not to live in pond-gunk, nor do they need catching in nets. Which we don't have, by the way. Or maybe you were going to try with your hands? I've heard you can tickle fish out of the water, if you do it just right…"
Zhianna stops and ponders this for a bit, brown furrowing "What about using plants as a way to keep the firelizards from eating the fish?" she offers, "I mean that way that way we are bringing some greenery into the Caverns too?"
Quillan looks clueless as he shrugs. "I have no idea. I work in demolition, not decoration." He scratches at his jaw, where there's a hint of stubble darkening his skin. "Aren't you a nanny, or something? Why would a nanny want to decorate the living caverns? I thought that was the Headwoman's job, or the weyrwomen's job or something."
Zhianna giggles and shakes her head wildly, "I'm not a nanny, they call me a bit of trouble…I'm a weyrbrat that tends to do whatever they tell me to do." a gloves hand shoves her hair back off her face, those wayward locks that have escapes her hat that is, "I could be in the kitchens today and helping with little tomorrow."
Quillan squints at Zhianna. "You're a bit old not to have a job, aren't you? I was apprenticed when I was your age." Because he's totally guessing how old she is, and he's naturally assuming that he's older, and therefore wiser. "I've been an apprentice for a good few turns now. I have a career, even if it's momentarily on hold. Or… wait. Are you one of the weyrbrats who're waiting to Impress, so you've not picked a job yet because you won't be doing it long? I know kids like that back home."
Zhianna wrinkles her nose, "No, I'm not one of those, trust me." She turns her gaze back to the pond, "I just haven't really found where I'm the best." she finally says after several moments of quiet. "I'm old enough that if a dragon thought I was good enough to stand that I would have been out on the sands before and since I haven't been searched I'm not waiting to impress." she nods as if to emphasize her words. "I don't have the skills needed to become an apprentice of anything." she add with a sigh.
With a little snort, Quillan lets it be known that he doesn't exactly believe in what Zhianna says. "Uh-huh. Sure. Whatever you say." He stops leaning on the spade so he can set it back into the barrow. "I've seen weyrbrats in their 20s Impress. You've got turns yet for it to happen. And, I've got chores to get back to… it was nice meeting you, Zia with the little name." With a wink, he picks up the handles of the barrow to wheel it away, in the direction of the gardener who's no doubt supervising the candidates' work.