A Fortian Invasion

Fort Weyr - Living Caverns
This cavern, having been created by bubbles in the volcanic flow of this extinct volcano, has a breathtaking ceiling — a vast dome that arches high above the heads of the weyrfolk that scurry around beneath it. A hollow echo can be heard from loud enough noises, and the chatterings of various firelizards are consequently multiplied into a chaotic babble. All in all, the living cavern is a loud place.
Tables are scattered around the room, apparently in no particular order. Over to one side near the kitchens, two medium sized serving tables are constantly spread with snacks, klah, and other goodies. The tables look worn, yet perfectly fitted to the atmosphere of the caverns. In the 'corners' of the cavern, smaller two and four place tables are set up for more private talks or just a less chaotic atmosphere in which to eat.

…The game is a foot Watson! Two older candidates, Quillan and Zak of teams blue and orange respectively have worked at cajoling Al'cas and Blue Hasephuth for a ride here to….insert dramatic pause here…FORT WEYR! In which there seems to be snow. Brr. Luckily Zak has changed out of shorts and into something a bit more tolerant to the cooler weather. "What was the reason for choosing Fort?" he's heard inquiring over his shoulder as he strides inside to the Living Caverns.

Oh and the time is smack in the middle of lunchtime here at Fort.

"To see how diplomacy works, or something," Quillan replies, huddled up under multiple layers of clothing. "Or maybe to teach us Igen boys how sharding cold the snow is?" Because they would dump the desert-dwellers into the frigid north, wouldn't they? He shudders, steering Zak to the food. "Al'cas is Quasar. Quasar does diplomacy stuff and politics and blah blah blah." Booooring. "And he's ditched us to explore so, eh. Whatever. Let's eat." He's already started helping himself, whether Zak's keen to or not.

There's little chance Zak is going to refuse food as he allows himself to be steers foodwards. "He did ditch us didn't he?" Zak cranes his neck a bit to peer outside before he is too far from the entrance. "Hmmph." is his noncommittal grunt. "Whadda they got to eat?" so far he's paid little attention to any Fortians that may be near them.

What food do they have? "Hot stuff." That, to Quill, is all that matters as he ladles a bowl full of soup, to accompany the plate of steaming stuff he's already piled hight for himself. When he's got two hands full, he steps to the end of the line to wait for Zak. And then they can grab seats together! "I don't think Al'cas has ditched us to go home, but he's somewhere right now. That isn't here. So… cheers." Since he's got no booze or drink yet, he'll cheers Zak with his soup bowl.

… which is an odd sight to see, for one Fortian junior. Thys spots the unusual display, and sidles over to the table with unknown faces to perch on its edge. "Boys. Fort's greetings to you… are those candidate's knots on your shoulders?" She cants her head, looking from Zak, to Quill, then back again. "I wasn't aware we still had candidates around the Weyr, after Rhen's eggs hatched."

Zak can't argue the need for hot food since the Igen born lad is still bundled up in all his new riding leathers. So new they still creak as he walks to this table to sit down along side Quill. "Cheers mate!" he says cheerful enough with a lift of his own soup bowl. Soup looked good today. So did that large sandwich he made which unfortunately he's just taken a large bite out of as soon as Thys perches on the edge of their table. Spotted by the natives! Or at least one. He makes an attempt of diplomacy and mumbles something incorherent as he hastens to try to chew and swallow without choking. "Ih un uber air" are his garbled words.

"I can honestly say I have no clue what you just said," Thys replies to Zak's spoken mouthful, crossing her arms over her chest and trying not to smirk at him - oh no, she's got her serious business face on. "You," she looks to Quillan, brow raised on her forehead, beneath her fringe. "Before you fill your mouth with food, would you care to tell me which clutch you're wearing your knot for? I make an effort to get to know every candidate who's standing for my dragon's clutches, and I can't say I recognise either of you… nor would any of our candidates fail to greet a junior weyrwoman without at the very least a salute." Oh yes, she's got her serious face on.

"Uh… sorry, ma'am?" Quillan puts down his soup bowl, looks over at Zak with a slightly panicked look, then stands up and salutes, sharply. "Uh… Candidate Quillan of Igen, uh, standing for Kairoikyriath's clutch, ma'am, here on a… visit. Shadowing Al'cas, ma'am, 'cept he's gone somewhere."

Zak's eyes widen with the appearance of a serious face on the Fortian. A glance to her shoulder reveals that this isn't just a regular rider but a Junior Weyrwoman. Eep? Gulping down his food so quickly it hurts he grunts in pain. His mouth cleared finally he snaps a quick salute to try to salvage their goofup. It doesn't bode well to start off on the wrong foot. Since he /is/ weyrbred he does know the proper greeting and way to visit another weyr. It was just the food was so tempting and distracting. Yeah, that's it! On the heels of his salute he echoes Quill's greeting. "Candidate Zak." he nudges Quill slightly with an elbow. "Standing for Xanadu Weyr." just in case she thought Quill meant he was standing at Igen. "But we're both from Igen." is added hastily. "Al'cas and Blue Hasephuth. I think maybe they are off delivering a package…or something." he finishes weakly on not knowing exactly where their ride went off too.

"Al'cas and Hasephuth are currently visiting Weyrlingmaster M'icha, actually. I've just seen them." Thys nods her head to signal the boys to be at ease, and gestures to their seats. "You're welcome in Fort Weyr, naturally, and I'd appreciate if you could pass my regards on to Innes on your return home. Though I can't help but wonder why Al'cas would bring you here for, presumedly, some sort of educational reason, only to leave you to your own devices?" It doesn't make sense to her… and so the boys have the pleasure of Thys's company until she can figure it out, as the goldrider sits down beside them.

"Uh…" Quillan's word of the moment. "Uh… I don't know why, ma'am, he just told us to come on in here and wait, and so we say food, and… thank you for your hospitality?" He blinks over at Zak, unsure of what exactly to say. "We're all assigned shadowing duties. Different days, different wings. We're even in different teams each day, too…" A pointed look is given to Zak. Help!

"We're shadowing him and he's Comet Wing, actually." Zak chimes in on the heels of Q. "Not diplomacy." he takes on in an under breath to Q. "Um, so he's delivery so he said a lot of it is delivering and um, waiting." he wrinkles his nose in thought. Warming up while indoors he finally undoes the fastens on his jacket to open it up, revealing a curled up sleeping small golden fire lizard. She offers a sleepy chirp that turns into a hopeful sound as she spies food on his plate. Uneaten food as he's not daring to take another bite yet. "If we are going to become riders then we should learn what they actually do!" he finally falls silent as his own explanation merely overlaps Q's response.

Quillan squints at Zak. "Are you sure he's Comet? I thought he was Quasar?" There is much confusion going on right now - how can they not even know what wing their shadowee is in? Quill hrumphs, looking from Zak to Thys and shrugging. "I thought he was Quasar and we were here doing diplomacy, or something. Which wouldn't make sense since we've been sorta ditched, so… maybe he's right?" He shrugs. What else can he do?

Thys looks just as confused as Quillan at the lack of understanding between the two. "Dear Faranth… perhaps I ought to suggest that Weyrs do intellectual testing before handing out white knots? Or at least memory tests?" Because something's amiss amongst these two, that's for sure. She leans forward, resting her forearms on the table and knitting her hands together. "Are you certain you're both here with the same rider? Because I'm struggling to believe your situation, boys."

This isn't going well at all. Casting a worried look to Quill as now there is confusion over which wing they are shadowing isn't helping. "Um.." he stammers at Thys' doubts of their intelligence. "Of course we're here with the same rider." he somewhat snaps before reigning in his annoyance. "He rode behind the rider and I was behind him." see? He can give positions on the back of the dragon. "Still though we're here to visit from Xanadu and our escort has gone off to visit the Weyrlingmaster so then we're on our own! So Xanadu's greeting to Fort and her Queens. " he says with a bit of backbone to his tone. "You have good soup!"

It's a short while before Maelle shows up, but then, she didn't actually travel with the other two candidates. She wanders in from the bowl, and arches a brow as she sees her fellow candidates being quizzed. She may notice the annoyed expression on Zak, but it doesn't prevent her from wandering over and standing near the pair. "What are you two doing here?" She adds her own question to the mix, even if they'd already answered it. Though the reason she's here is pretty clear as she's holding a letter, and she looks to Thys, "Xanadu's greetings to Fort and her Queens. Would you happen to be able to direct me to uhh.." She lifts the letter to look at the name again, "Paleir? He's apparently a smith, if that helps?"

"Yeah, we were on the same dragon. Al'cas's Hasephuth. But man, Zak, I swear he's in Quasar. Why else would he come here?" This is something that's really got Quillan confused. Because seriously. How the shards can they be this confused over something so simple?! "We could always just ask him… or maybe, weyrwoman, you could ask him? Through your lifemate?" Who he utterly fails to name because he doesn't even know who the goldrider in front of him is.

Thys just snorts. She's both amused and frustrated with these… antics. "Perhaps I could ask her to bespeak Hasephuth, but I'm more inclined to have her speak to Saburath." To tell on you, boys! And indeed, her gaze unfocuses in that tell-tale dragon conversation look, before she's distracted by Maelle's question. "Ah. Wonderful. Someone who can greet a weyrwoman correctly. Fort's greetings to… I'm guessing Xanadu? Are you here with these boys?" It's a plague of candidates upon Fort's house! "Paleir will be over in the forge, most likely. I'll be headed there after I'm done with these two," that's you, Zak and Quill, "and I'd be happy to take it to him. Can I ask who's delivering it?"

Whatever spine Zak has is slowly wilting under the pressure. "MaybesortacouldabeenfromQuasar." mumbles Zak with uncertainty in his tone now. His gaze goes down to his lap and stays there. Clearly Maelle doesn't help the situation any with her inquiry of what are they doing here. Doesn't anyone in Xanadu communicate?! Those mumbled words are all that emerges from the Igen-Beastcrafter-turned-Xanadu-Candidate.

Maelle looks a little confused at the situation going on between the other candidates and goldrider, but manages to not push for the answer to her question any more. A look is given to both Quillan and Zak and then a shake of her head before she answers Thys, "I.. ah. No, not with them exactly. They're part of my class though." So, that's with them enough? She holds out the letter for Thys to take after she offers, and nods, "Maelle. Though it doesn't really matter who delivers the letters, does it?" She wonders, and bumps Zak with an elbow as he mumbles and she steps back to be more in line with them. "You okay?"

Fort is famous for many things. Being the first Weyr and all, its legend is bright and endless just as….its winter! Luckily the rider who's silhouette appears seems to be well aware of that. The face hidden behind a large white scarf, only his eyes are visible, scanning the caverns. It doesn't take him long to spot the group gathered around the goldrider. Removing his gloves, he goes on reaching them in a rather quick pace. "So here they are…" comes his voice, muffled by the scarf. Once again the rider's piercing eyes wander and fall on every one of them before turning to Thys. Stealthy no more, the bronzerider slowly removes his helmet and scarf, finally displaying his face. "Xanadu's duties to Fort and their Queens, Weyrwoman." Another quick glance at the bunch of candidates. One of these this-is-how-to-properley-greet-a-weyrwoman kind of look. "I guess I arrived too late…"

And this is a total pickle they've found themselves in. Quillan copies Zak's example, and looks down into his lap when Thys mentions calling the Weyrleader. Would she really… oh wait. Looks like she just did, because he knows that look. "Did you… did you really just call Weyrleader E'tan, ma'am?" He looks at Maelle, who seems to be getting this whole greeting people thing down so well. Which, in all fairness, is probably not so hard when you're in company like the boys are offering! And then - "Oh shit, she did," he hisses over at Zak and Maelle, when none other than E'tan appears. Sheepish, much?

"Well, Maelle, welcome to Fort. Please help yourself to food and drink, if you're so inclined?" Thys is quite keen to greet the candidate properly, grinning brightly at her. Then E'tan appears, and she stands up to greet him, offering a smile and a salute. "Weyrleader, welcome! Fort's greetings to yourself, Saburath and Xanadu Weyr." This is super formal, candidates. Take note! It's probably done for your benefit. "I'm so glad you were able to come. It seems some of your candidates…" She looks over at Quillan and Zak, "are… lacking, a little. They're not sure how to greet goldriders, and - I can't quite believe this myself - they don't seem to know what wing their escort rides with. Would you please clarify for us? They're here with Al'cas, and blue Hasephuth, who may be in Quasar, or he may be in… Comet, was it, boys?" Brown eyes flicker in amusement over the two candidates in question. "Oh, but Maelle here? Perfectly mannered. She's most welcome in Fort." And she gets a wink, too.

Zak's eyes widen as he spares a look up to see The Weyrleader indeed come striding in. "Oh sweet Faranath itty bits." a low moan escapes the candidate. They are in for it now! As Thys offers food and drink to Maelle he casts a slightly guilty look to the food he and Quill have already been partaking in, sitting before them on the table. Clearing his throat he stands with one arm tugging up Quill to also stand. He snaps off a salute to E'tan but can't offer any words for he's gone speechless and humble once more as Thys speaks up. "Um. Comet. Ma'am." he murmurs quietly in answer. Maelle gets a slight shake of his head as she asks if he's okay.

Saburath senses that Rhenesath curls heat and smoke around thoughts, the crackle of flames prominent. « Mine enjoys teasing your candidates. » Said words are accompanied by a mile-a-minute flash of images of what's been happening, thick and fast in the bronze's mind.

Maelle returns the bright grin Thys gives her with one of her own, and glances over towards the food and drink that's offered before catching the fact that E'tan has managed to stealthily follow them. She offers a pretty sloppy looking salute, where greetings she has pinned - salutes, well, those need work. She blinks a couple times as Thys explains the confusing mess that Zak and Quillan have managed to try and explain themselves out of, she gives the pair a skeptical expression and a smirk. Good time to scoot away for a drink? She thinks so, though offers, "Anyone else want a drink?" If allowed, she'll wander off and give Zak a light pat on the back. Things'll get better, probably.

E'tan slowly crosses his arms over his chest, not bothering removing his flight jacket. The matter is way too important for he's still in a kind of rush attitude. Xanadu's reputation is on the line here and keeping those candidates on the edge isn't that bad. Even enjoying, in a way. "I dropped everything to come, Weyrwoman. And you have all my gratitude for the…" And he turns to look at Zak and Quillan, raising his voice for the last word. "…warning" A deep sigh escape his lips as he looks back at Thys. "Al'cas flies in Comet, yes. Our transport and delivery Wing. Even if blue, Hasephuth is very efficient in that domain. And now I'm pondering having him bring them back to the Weyr but not on his….back." Now it's a bit more obvious that the bronzerider has more and more difficulties to hide a growing smile. Of course that threat didn't include Maelle. He dips his head once at her instead, politely yet silently declining her offer.

Rhenesath senses that Saburath welcomes the gold's flame with a respectful blast of his inner wind, the heat raising and contrasting against the darkness of his cosmic background. « Mine does as well. » Acknowledging the faster than light images, a draconic chuckle echoes. « There seems to be potential in them…if awkward. »

Eeeurgh, so he was wrong. Quillan slaps a hand to his forehead as his cheeks colour beetroot-dark with embarrassment. "Sorry, sir," he admints to the Weyrleader, looking up at him through his fingers. "I thought Al'cas was Quasar and that we were here for a diplomatic… thing." And now he's so, so, so wishing the ground would open up to swallow him. He does, though, manage to make a little drinking gesture to Maelle, along with a sheepish thumbs up. Drink for him, please.

And one for Thys too, Maelle! "I'll have a juice, please, Maelle, if you'd be so kind." She's grinning when she looks at E'tan, giving Zak and Quillan a sideways look. "Now, Weyrleader, I absolutely appreciate you treating this matter as a priority. We've potentially got a diplomatic incident on our hands, what with the lack of decency they've shown." Did she just stifle a laugh, or was that a little sneeze? "Perhaps strapping them to Hasephuth's undercarriage would be a suitable punishment for the journey home. I'm quite sure we can provide you with the right sort of strapping, if you require it? Faranth forbid I step on your toes when it comes to disciplining your candidates…"

Saburath senses that Rhenesath has a maternal edge to her fiery warmth, a motherly affection that's soft and fuzzy as a hen's down. « I have yet to meet them, but I will trust your Weyr's judgement. » A ripple of laughter rolls through her thoughts, like a feather fluttering on the breeze. « Mine asks yours to play along. To pretend they're in trouble. She is not offended, but warns they may require training. »

Wait..what? Zak's head snaps up and he gives a 'are you serious right now' look towards E'tan. No drink for him either. He'll just stand here and hope that the hole that swallows up Quill drags him along too. All he can do is offer a meek "Sorry ma'am." to Thys and "Sorry sir' to E'tan. One hand runs through his red curls worriedly as he looks between Xanadu Weyrleader and Fort Weyrwoman.

Definitely good timing to wander off and get drinks, as discussion about punishments is starting up. She nods at the two who requested drinks, and goes to get juice for the Weyrwoman and some for Quillan as well, though gets some klah for herself. She has a little difficulty carrying all three mugs back, but manages well enough so she can set them down and offer Thys hers first, before handing the next to Quillan and the last she leaves on the table for herself. "Can.. Can I make a suggestion? They'd probably enjoy the experience of being strapped to the undercarriage of a dragon, but they wouldn't learn anything from it. Maybe there's something else?" She doesn't /really/ know if they'd like it or not, but boys being boys they'd probably think it's thrilling after the fact. She also doesn't offer alternatives.

E'tan keeps taping on his chin thoughtfully. That matter needs some good thinking for sure. Quillan and Zak's apologies get Tani to raise a brow, some kind of acknowledgment. Satisfied or not? It's very hard to tell, the way the bronzerider narrows his eyes again. "Oh you're not at all encroaching here…" he begins, his attention on the Fort weyrwoman again. "…but I wouldn't want to steal Fort's resources for them." A thumb sign is thrown at the boys. "Correct me if I'm wrong but, I do believe that a certain percentage of loss is allowed during candidacy right? Hasephuth is not known to drop things but…yes, maybe having them secured in his claws would work." The nearby Maelle can clearly witness the mirth in the Weyrleader's eyes. "Yes…I think it could work. And Maelle here is Saburath's favorite. He'd be happy to bring her back."

Rhenesath senses that Saburath sounds more and more amused, the situation breaking through his usual stern and formal attitude. « Often, the best elements are the longest to train. But…» And he adds here the visualization of the short haired girl. «…This one is promising! »

Enter another of Fort's weyrwomen — this time it's Inri, looking a bit like she hasn't slept in a month but impressively put together for it with her hair up in a bun and wrapped in a floor-length knit coat she probably made herself. "Undercarriage of dragons?" she interjects, having overheard just that much, and adds, "I have no experience with that, just with carrying people in claws. Not that I did it. Kouzevelth and I were there, but Dremkoth was the guilty party." And Rayathess has … probably forgiven Inri and D'ani for that by now. It's natural of Inri to decide she's part of a conversation even if she wasn't invited, so if anyone expected her to move on after that one interjection, they haven't met her.

At least Quillan has juice to look down at now. He thanks Maelle quietly, giving Zak a look… not much happening over there in terms of moral support. The candidate then decides that the best course of action is to follow suit, and so it's time to offer apologies. "Sorry ma'am, sorry sir." Is there an echo in here? He offers each a smile, and then perks up, briefly, when Maelle has her suggestion. Will they go for it?

"Steal? Oh, no, Weyrleader, I know you'd return them at the earliest convenience, naturally." Thys grins at E'tan, and accepts her juice from Maelle with a smile and thanks. "A certain percentage? Why, yes, it's practically guaranteed… Inri! We're discussing suitable ways to punish these candidates," she looks at the boys, "but not this one," that's Maelle, who gets a fond smile, "for their inability to greet goldriders, and their lack of knowledge with regards to their escorting rider's wing." She rolls her eyes - and hopefully her fellow Fortian will click onto her expression's true meaning. "We were considering strapping them to the undercarriage of their escort's dragon, though Maelle here seems to have a better suggestion?" Floor's all yours, lady!

Saburath senses that Rhenesath echoes the image of the girl, swirling it in flame and feather. « She is like mine. Mine appreciates that she has manners. » Unlike the boys, the unspoken thought is clear as day without the need to be put into words. « Kairoikyriath has many other candidates, yes? Mine says we have extra amongst our caverns that Xanadu is welcome to. »

Greeting Inri's arrival properly with a salute and the usual duties phrase, E'tan politely excuse himself the moment he spots Al'cas. "If you please excuse me for a second, I shall not be long." As he walks away a little, a light chuckle echoes…

Maelle peers at the new person joins the fray, and her eyes blink a couple times as she realizes that the new person has seen people carried in dragon claws. "Xanadu's greetings to Fort and her queens.." She offers politely to Inri, setting her klah cup down and looking between the two boys in her company. There's thin ice when it comes to suggesting punishments - either she'll be lauded as a hero saving them from certain doom, or going to make herself some enemies by her suggestions. "Oh, me? Well.. I would probably just make them memorize everyone's name in the Comet wing and have them get more practcie on how to properly greet people. Fear is a tactic better used for things that there's nothing needed to be learned other than 'don't do that'." She says, and then adds quickly, "But, it's not for me to decide anyone's punishment. Maybe they've already learned their lesson?" She wonders, looking at Zak and Quillan. You have, right? Right?

"Weyrleader," Inri allows a quick, polite and totally unnecessary salute — let's confuse the candidates about rank structure more! — to the parting E'tan before taking a seat as close to Thys as circumstances might allow. "Nice to meet you, Maelle, lone polite candidate. What are these ones called?" Quillan and Zak get treated to a slowly arched eyebrow, and Inri manages to come off a bit more formidably than is normal. Totally, completely playing along. "Now — hm. I wouldn't be inclined to believe someone who said they had learned their lesson, they would at least have to begin by proving it, so — you," she picks on Quillan, first, "can start by addressing me properly, and we can now see if you've learned to address a goldrider. From there — we'll see. Not that my opinion really matters, but I've certainly managed many a group of candidates." Rhenesath rises more often, so Thys is definitely gaining on Inri's experience, but she does temporarily hold the lead.

Quillan looks like he can't decide whether E'tan leaving is a good thing, or a bad thing, because now they've been left at the mercy of the Fortians in charge. Maelle, though, at least she's on his side, right? Even if she's expecting him to do some pretty ridiculous-sounding things. "Faranth, M - memorise everyone?" He would groan if he didn't think it would get him into more trouble. So he just looks at Zak, then looks at the weyrwomen, then back at his juice. "Yeeees," he replies to Maelle's question mopily. He's learnt his lesson, alright, and when he's called upon by Inri, he stands up, gives her a sharp salute, then sinks back into his chair. Defeated! "Sorry for being impolite, ma'am."

Thys gives E'tan a nod as he leaves, before helping Inri out with names. "Polite Maelle, and these are Quillan and Zak, of Igen and currently Xanadu. They're standing for Kairoikyriath's clutch… or, well, they were. I honestly think we ought to offer E'tan some of those who didn't Impress at Rhen's last clutch as a replacement. There's quite a few knocking around in the caverns still, and guaranteed they have manners." She turns to look at the candidates, "We ensure proper training here, you know. Dancing, etiquette, the works."

"In the wing.. I already know many of the names, but I'm horrible with faces." Maelle adds, in case Quillan missed it - not everyone in the weyr, that'd be crazy talk. She smiles lightly as Thys answers Inri's question for her, and takes a drink of her klah as Quillan apologizes. As to the suggestion about replacing candidates with other candidates left over from another clutch she muses, "We're still new candidates, it takes a little time to get used to everything. I just had a bit of a head start because healers are often meeting new people, and we try to be polite." She admits, sinking down into a chair. "Dancing? Why is that important for candidates?" She scrunches her nose, definitely not liking the sound of that training.

"Dancing," Inri begins to explain, eyes brighter than they've been since she first arrived, "is important for dragonriders. Therefore, it is important that candidates have at least the most rudimentary of ideas behind how steps and different forms of dance operate. Leaves a framework for learning more in weyrlinghood. Those tapped to Phoenix get more training in that regard, and we do bring in Harpers to help with the more advanced levels — I'm usually the one who teaches some of the candidates and as many of the weyrlings as I can get one-on-one moments with." Candidates she teaches in groups, weyrlings in solo, that's why. "It may seem silly, but it's actually crucial to diplomatic relations with Halls and Holds that our riders look as …" She's striving for the word, hesitating, comes up with, "Couth as is humanly possible. You learn to put on the facade if you aren't really. I trained Thys, see, now look how nice she turned out." Inri is at least grinning at her friend. "And so skilled in coming up with ways to punish candidates."
(Not that Inri wasn't well aware of Thys' capability of doing things like running jewelry auctions by herself before she Impressed.)

And this is all just going from bad to worse for poor Quillan, because now they're talking about dancing. He looks up at Zak, gives the guy a look, and hopes he can figure out what he means. "Uh… excuse me, weyrwomen, Maelle, but, uh… that's our ride, over at the door. Looking for us." Indeed there is a rider over there, lingering in the doorway, brushing off the cold. Quillan stands up sharply, giving both Inri and Thys a salute, and bobbing his head politely to Maelle. "Thank you for your company, ma'ams, Maelle… see you back in the barracks?" He wants to get out of there before the punishment has the chance to get worse, and so before anyone can protest too loudly, he makes a break for it. Hopefully Zak's right there with him!

Given the circumstances, Thys, who isn't all that heartless (or at all, really), lets the boys escape. "Our pleasure, candidates! You be sure to come back now!" … which makes her laugh, as she turns her attention back to Inri and Maelle. "Couldn't have got them out faster if we'd gone after their butts with red hot pokers," she snorts, brushing a hand through her short-cropped hair. "Dancing. Oh, yes, Inri is a wonderful teacher, and it is so important. Canoodling with Holders on the dancefloor is an excellent way of being, ah, diplomatic. Building relations, and so on."

Maelle gives an expression that means 'you have got to be kidding' - that furrowed brow, impetulent look that all but says it. "What if the candidate can't dance? Two left feet, uncoordinated, ungainly looking?" She wonders and then adds after another moment of contemplation. "Do you make them /dress up/? Will they make US dress up?" She looks all sorts of worried about that, glancing off towards where E'tan wandered off to, the only hope of being told that they don't have to dress up for anything. And with Quillan and Zak leaving with the rider that's appeared, she isn't finding any answers out from them either. The klah mug is looking all that much more interesting now, so her gaze just falls to it.

Inri is not kidding! Inri is clearly not kidding; she looks very serious about the kidding she is not doing, if in a good-natured way. "That is why we teach you, because many candidates come not being able to dance. Normally there's no dressing up; we have a large dinner dance during weyrlinghood that does require that, though. I haven't spent much time at Xanadu; I can't tell you for sure what Innes and V'dim may wish of you." Presumably she knows the names of Xanadu's junior goldriders as well, but doesn't seem overly concerned with identifying everyone whose decision it might be.

Everything has been part of his plan. The talk, the gazes and even the escaping part with that loud enough chuckle. E'tan played along way too well. Rubbing his hands together, he nods at the other Xanadu bronzerider on his way back from that secret talk with Al'cas. The departing Quillan and Zak are eyed for sure. Fraught only knows what is awaiting them outside. In a kind of sliding movement, Tani reaches the group back, jumping onto the current subject. "Dancing now? My…you're being even more cruel now." Well, yeah, he isn't that good at playing bad cop here. But then, there is only Maelle left with the Fortian's butch…err…friendly hosts.

"Mmmhrm, I have to agree with Inri about not knowing what Xanadu may specifically require, but you can be guaranteed that if you Impress a gold you'll be obligated to learn how to dance… even if you have two left feet. It'll just mean more lessons, I'm sure." Thys is guessing, but perhaps it's an educated guess, given her position? Ah, and there's the Weyrleader again. "E'tan, you are wonderful, and fantastic, and that was absolutely hilarious. Thank you for being such a sport." Ooops - the cat's out of the bag! "Sssh, Maelle, don't you go saying anything to those boys. They honestly could do with learning a lesson or two."

Relief is obvious as Maelle listens, even if her gaze doesn't lift from the klah cup in her hand. "Oh, good. That means that the chances are small." She is a quick one, and latches right on to the fact that there's a requirement that she may not meet after the hatching. Any hope is good hope, so she'll take it. A little laugh is given as Thys collaborates with E'tan, apparently the show was good enough even she believed it. "Not a word." She assents, and arches a brow at Inri. "Aren't there some that you just /can't/ teach, though? At what point do you just give up?" She wonders, you know, for future knowledge should she need it.

"No." Inri gives the returning E'tan a flash of grin — no, really, that was wonderful and she enjoyed watching the tail end of it! — before returning her focus to Maelle and more seriousness. "There has never been anyone I couldn't teach anything to. There are certainly a few who can't handle more complicated dance steps and aren't fantastic at the finer details of negotiation etiquette, but how do you handle that? By minimizing exposure. The waltz is so easy anyone can do it; we train those riders to decline dances that aren't an easy waltz. A rider who can't handle politic is simply told to keep his or her mouth shut and say as little as possible. Even a goldrider can be trained to do that; simply direct the concern to a different goldrider and create the picture of herself as the strong and silent type — because she knows that if she opens her mouth no good will come of it. Everyone can be trained to do something appropriately, and I have never given up on any of my riders."

E'tan gives both Thys and Inri an exaggerated bow and a chuckle. "I was that good because of my partners. you're both too kind with me." A wink is shared here. "Just like dancing. If you're not that good…" And he turns his gaze at Maelle now, "…you can still count on your partner to help." Truth is he's never been that good but just as Inri said, training do marvels sometimes.

"There's a reason they keep me for the rougher Craft lot and away from the Holds," Thys tells Maelle after Inri's little explanation. "Everyone has their strengths along with their weaknesses, and it's all just a matter of emphasising one, downplaying the other. That's natural balance, and without it we really just can't get along with our lives." She gives her shoulders a shrug, the lifts up her cup of juice as she stands. "Well, girls, boy, speaking of crafts and so on, I have a parcel to deliver to the forge." That one from Maelle, that she accepted earlier. "Pleasure meeting you, Maelle. E'tan - lovely to see you, as always, and please pass my regards on to Innes? I'll hopefully have the chance to come see Kairoikyriath's clutch before it hatches. Inri…" Her buddy gets a click of her tongue and a thumbs up. So that's how it's done when they're not showing themselves up! Then Thys is away, back to work.

"I guess.. But, what if you end up with a partner that's /worse/ than you?" Maelle wonders, glancing off towards where Quillan and Zak left. "And just makes you look even worse than you do on your own?" She really does have a question for everything, and seems to want to control all aspects of things, which is probably why she believes that dancing couldn't be a good hobby for herself. "There are healers that I abhor working with because they just.. don't think. They make you look like you're terrible at your job when really it's just because they're /that/ bad." She finishes, and then lifts a hand to wave at Thys, "Pleasure meeting you too."

"That sort of thing is — you want to know in advance who dances worse than you do," Inri suggests with another tiny grin. "When you're in a situation where it matters, you should already be completely aware of what you're up against. That is the nutshell of politicking. I know it's not easy to learn — I was a barmaid before I Impressed — but you get used to it. And I've heard about that sort of thing from our Weyrhealer; I'm sure it's true in every area, but as a dragonrider, you always have authority to turn to, to make sure someone has your back." Unless it's your Weyrwoman or Weyrleader you've angered, but Inri doesn't go so far as to say that, just to scrinch her nose at departing Thys and then return her focus to Maelle and her questions.

E'tan finally decides to fall on a chair, waving at the leaving goldrider, a wide smile brightening his face. "You can count on me, Thys. And it's always a pleasure to visit." Obviously relaxing more than usual, he now searches for something to nibble on. "The true thing is, with training, you'll be able to adjust to every kind of partner and even bring the best out of them. As bad as they may be." As Inri speaks he, approvingly nods. "That's without saying you have to be cautious, yeah, given the context. And be sure that, even angry, you could /always/ turn to us." That includes Innes of course.

"Shards, that sounds horrible. Politics, that is. /If/ I Impress, I'm hoping for any of the chromatics so that I can join a search and rescue wing. But, failing that, I'm happy to be a healer. It's what I know." Maelle admits, finishing off the mug of klah she'd gotten for herself. Nothing like being comfortable in a position she already sees herself in, rather than trying to conform to one she doesn't fit. "Did you think you'd Impress when you stood as a bartender? I mean.. I still think Saburath's crazy for asking me. I don't have any riders in my family at all so it isn't like I have a proud lineage to come from either."

"Hear that, Weyrleader? Saburath's crazy," Inri is teasing Maelle, but just a little, just as much as she's clearly teasing E'tan. It's probably not something Nyalle would approve of, but since Xanadu's weyrleader seems so casual … Inri is taking the potential shot. "Politics can be pretty horrible. I was good at enough of the whole barmaid schtick that it translated well, oddly enough? And I wasn't really sure. I didn't have strong feelings one way or another. Dtirae had hoped for me to be the next goldrider, though she didn't tell me that to my face until after," came with a laugh. "I wanted to ride in Thunderbird, if I was going to ride at all. And I didn't have riders in my family. One of my brothers has Impressed since, but I was the first. People say it matters, but I'm pretty certain it doesn't."

"Faranth only knows what may come across a dragon mind, and if not totally crazy, Saburath is stubborn. That's a fact." E'tan shrugs his reply, grinning at Inri. Oh yes, casual is his leading word for now. He's way too happy to escape the whole candidate 'shaping'. Munching of what seems to be a roll, he sides with the Fortian goldrider, eyes on Maelle. "I'm also sure it doesn't matter if you have riders in your family or not. Just like Inri, I was the first…and the last. But then since you gave up and accepted you'll have to go through all of this to know. Because Saburath won't ever let you go. Did I mention he was stubborn?"

"What's Thunderbird?" Maelle wonders, and despite the fact she has been within distance of Fort to visit when she was at Healer's, she hasn't gotten that familiar with what wing does what at any weyr. "I just hear a few of the candidates so sure they're going to Impress because so-and-so in their family already has. It just.. feels like it'd be impossible for people like me. My older brothers are past the age they can and hadn't been asked, and my younger brother hasn't either." So, therefore there /must/ be something wrong with Saburath. She can't help but snicker a little at E'tan, and shakes her head. "You make it sound like he'd come hunt me down if I ran off. Don't tempt me to find out." She teases, and rolls her eyes. "It's an experience none the less! I really like that the chore board is empty and we're getting more hands on experience with riders."

"We don't do much in the way of chores here either." Inri says that proudly, because her candidate class was the first that got to go on excursions; the successful experiment that has seen three of them take leadership positions (hers may have been a default, but Abigail's and D'ani's were not!) and continued on into further generations. "Some are necessary for simply building the tolerance for tedium that occurs during weyrlinghood, the beginning of which is grunt work, but I appreciate seeing more and more of the Weyrs opening up into doing other things with candidacy than grunt work. Oh —" Inri missed a question! "Thunderbird is our policing and rescue wing. I always envisioned myself a bit of a mystery solver."

E'tan's face betrays the nostalgia of his own candidacy and weyrlinghood and he can't but agree with Inri here. With a smirk edging his lips, he raises one finger and opens his mouth, theatrically preparing his audience for a astonishing revelation when…. "Please…not /again/…" The rest is nothing but mumbling as the bronzerider drops his head in spite. "Okay, Ladies." Where are his manners now? "I gotta go…./again/ Maelle, if I'm still around don't hesitate and poke me for your trip back. Don't have me Saburath hunt you. Inri…" He now bows with a grin and heads out. "Yes. yes….I'm coming…."

"I guess you can't really teach people what to expect as new weyrlings because it's not like you have fake baby dragons around." Maelle muses, though the idea of being put in charge of any sort of infant anything really doesn't sit well with her at all. But, her mind doesn't linger there for long as the thought of mysteries is brought up. "Mysteries, like.. what? Hidden treasure, or who did it mysteries? Do you still get to indulge in some of that even though you're a Weyrwoman now?" Oh, the questions seem to never cease for her, though since E'tan's leaving she starts to feel maybe she should as well and gives him a quick nod in response. The trip to deliver the letter was successful after all, so she gets up to start gathering cups that were left behind by her fellow candidates. "Shards, I think I'm running late to see my ride, actually. You should come visit sometime, we're supposed to try and show someone around so it'd be helpful if you had time. But, no worries if you don't!"

"I'd love to catch up and answer some of those questions," Inri agrees, pulling herself to standing as well. It isn't as if she hasn't got heaps of work she hasn't gotten to yet, and — actually did never manage to get her own lunch, distracted by conversation. "So as soon as I can get away, I will, and I'll be sure to ask for you. Maelle," she repeats, just to make sure she's got the name right … before giving the candidate and Weyrleader a parting wave and moving to actually find food and get back to math.

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